That’s all it takes for Tom Brands to summarize his expectations for the Iowa wrestling team during the 2012-13 season.
“National championship,” the seventh-year Hawkeyes coach said Monday during an appearance at the Davenport Grid Club luncheon.
Brands expanded on his pointed expectation, saying it mirrors the philosophy that allowed Dan Gable to lead Iowa to 15 NCAA titles over 21 seasons.
“We fully intend to win the national championship. Now, that doesn’t mean we will win it, but it does mean we intend to win it. That’s what makes us unique,” Brands said. “We try to win it every single year. There’s no pointing toward next year or the year after that. We try to win it every year.”
Iowa won its most recent NCAA title in 2010, and Brands understands what it will take for the Hawkeyes to return to the top of the podium as a team when the 2013 national champion is crowned in Des Moines next March.
He points to improvements in three weight classes — 141, 149 and 197 — as critical components to giving Iowa a chance to achieve its objective.
“We’re not just talking about a few points, we’re talking about scoring bonus points and scoring some more,” Brands said. “We need to duplicate what Matt McDonough does for us times 30, what Tony Ramos does for us the same way and what (Derek) St. John does for us. If we can duplicate that, we’ll have a pretty good team.”
One of the seven Quad-City area wrestlers on the roster figures heavily into those plans.
Brody Grothus, a redshirt freshman from Davenport Assumption, is expected to compete for a lineup spot at 149. Grothus collected nine pins and three major decisions while compiling a 19-6 record last season while wrestling unattached, including a championship effort at the Lindenwood Open.
“He can scramble and do things a lot of guys can’t do, and he’s starting to get smarter when he scrambles,” Brands said. “I don’t know of anybody in the country who can keep him down, and I think he’s going to give us some help at 149. He’s certified at 141, but I think he’ll go at 149.”
The season opens Nov. 16 at the Chattanooga Duals. That comes one week after wrestle-offs determine the Hawkeyes’ season-opening lineup at the onset of a season which includes a home dual against Penn State, which has won the past two NCAA titles and is one of several obstacles the Hawkeyes will face.
“We know what the challenges are. We know how many points Penn State has coming back, how good Oklahoma State is going to be and how competitive Minnesota is going to be. For us to win, it would be one for the ages, but we will go into it intending to win,” Brands said.
“I would say that even if the coaches for those teams were standing in this room. That is the only way we know how to go about our business.”