Iowa's Nick Moore given final chance for lasting impression
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- It's a typical mid-July afternoon in Iowa. The sun is beating down. The thermometer reads 95 degrees, but with the high humidity level the heat index has soared to near 105 degrees. It is an oppressive heat, one which has forced many people indoors to the comfort of air conditioning.
As Iowa wrestling coach Tom Brands winds his way up Hawkins Drive, the steep, curved hill leading up to Carver-Hawkeye Arena, something catches his attention out of the corner of his eye. Brands looks over and spots senior Nick Moore jogging up the hill in full sweats and a stocking cap.
While Moore draws more than a few quizzical looks from passers-by, Brands can't help but smile and be proud of one of his senior leaders.
Moore is angry, and he's training like it. After finishing second at 165 pounds in the Big Ten Championships and being ranked in the top 10 nationally all season, Moore -- the former four-time state champion from Iowa City West High School -- came up short at the national tournament.
His national title hopes were dashed with a stunning 15-7 loss to Josh Veltre of Bloomsburg State in the first round. His All-America hopes fizzled with an 8-1 loss to Dylan Palacio of Cornell in the third round of consolations, two wins short of earning a spot on the podium.
The 95-degree heat Moore felt on those July runs pales in comparison to the anguish he felt in the NCAA championships, a feeling he is trying to make sure he never experiences again.
Yeah, Moore is angry and he's training like it. This is his last chance to realize the dream he's had since he was a little kid, the goal of becoming a national champion and an All-American.
This is it for Moore, and he's all in for one last haul.
"[Training with anger] kind of got coined earlier this summer. Tom [Brands] liked it and he kind of said it to me and it just stuck," Moore said. "I didn't mind it either. It's like training alone, training by yourself. Training without the results. All of those things. It's used to motivate me to keep going. I guess that is training angry."
"It's not something necessarily that I adopted this summer," Moore continued. "It's something that I've done all throughout college. You go out -- it's a little bit crazy to do -- you go out in 90 degree heat and put sweats and run three miles. It's good. It's the edge that Tom Brands talks about."
"When you're training angry and you're training alone, that means that you usually feel pretty good. When you see that you don't honk and wave and let him know that you saw him, but you nod quietly to yourself that -- let's get it done," Brands said.
Moore has been a mainstay in the lineup for most of the past three seasons, a crowd favorite since breaking into the lineup as a sophomore. He has gone 53-22 since, including 33-11 in duals. But for Moore, who was 183-1 in high school and was accustomed to standing on the top step of the podium everywhere he went, that all rings hollow now.
As he looks at the west wall in the Dan Gable Wrestling Room, his name is absent from the list of Iowa's Big Ten champions, All-Americans and national champions. When he first arrived on campus in the fall of 2010, those feats were almost a given. One of the best high school wrestlers in state history would be on that wall numerous times before he's done. Surely.
Yet Moore begins his final season in a black and gold singlet with a résumé that to him is incomplete. He's not going to leave Iowa empty-handed and he's doing everything in his power to make sure he's on that podium in March.
"As many good results that I had, I wouldn't want to justify my season on those results because at the end of the year it's based on the results at that tournament," Moore said. "As many results that are admirable throughout the year, it really doesn't matter, it's what you put together at the end of the year.
"I'm not really approaching this year any differently. I did have some good results last year. That's something that you look back on and you build off of. It's not like I'm putting a lot of pressure on myself because it's my last year. It's not what I need to take that next step and get that result you want."
After fizzling out at the national tournament last year, Moore decided to take some much-needed time off to re-evaluate the situation, to recharge his batteries, to rethink his approach. He just needed some time away from wrestling, to let his mind focus on other things, let his body recuperate from a long, grueling season.
"I probably took between a week and a month, somewhere between there. It's your own time. You think about things that you haven't thought about because you've been busy wrestling all year. ... You get a chance to think about wrestling and your mind starts running. You need time to relax and heal after a season like that. You need time for your mind to ease and get ready for the next season," Moore said. "At the end of every year, especially when you have results that aren't what you wanted and what you worked for all year, you have to step back and you have to figure out what needs to be changed and what you need to do differently in order to get the results that you want."
For Moore, it is the next step on the road he hopes will take him to the top of the podium come March 21 at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
Moore is angry and he's training like it. This is his last chance to put his name on the wall with all the greats in Iowa wrestling history.
The time is now.
"He's been reminded of that again, and again, thanks for reminding us on that one, as well," Brands said. "He is a super competitor. He had a splendid high school career and he is frustrated, but the one thing you see with him is that he's training this year angry and alone, and there's a lot to that."
"You have to put a tournament together. All of the coaches say you have to break it down. You have to put the first session together and then you have to put the second session and then you have to come back for the morning session the next day and then the night session and then whatever sessions you're involved with the third day. I think that's the main thing is just putting a whole tournament together like that," Moore said. "It's still a constant cycle of changing things right now. When it comes right down to it of you don't feel good, it doesn't matter."