Kevin Dresser’s arrival at Iowa State has turned today’s Iowa-Iowa State wrestling dual into a bit of a turf war.
"We’re after the same real estate," Hawkeyes coach Tom Brands said. "It’s not just the local real estate, it’s the national real estate. So, it’s an important meet. You look at where they want to go and you look at where we want to go, it’s the same place."
It was a year ago this month that Dresser left Virginia Tech to take on the task of rebuilding the Cyclones’ program, a project the ISU coach said remains a work in progress as the teams head into today’s 2 p.m. dual at Hilton Coliseum.
The meet is the final tune-up for both teams as they prepare for upcoming conference tournaments, and the seventh-ranked Hawkeyes bring an 11-3 mark into the dual against the Cyclones, who sit at 8-9 after losing a 31-7 dual at Northern Iowa on Feb. 10.
"It’s a measuring stick for us, more so individually than as a team," Dresser said. "On paper, Iowa is supposed to slam us, slaughter us, all those ‘s’ words. We’ll see what happens."
The Hawkeyes have won the last 13 duals against the Cyclones and earned the Dan Gable Trophy that goes to the winner in each of the seven years the teams have competed for the prize honoring the former Iowa State athlete who coached Iowa to 15 NCAA titles in a 21-year coaching career.
Although there is not one match between rated wrestlers expected today, it remains a meet that hits home.
Eleven products of Iowa high school programs are listed as probable starters for the dual, five for Iowa and six for Iowa State.
That includes three Quad-City area athletes, Bettendorf’s Paul Glynn is 7-9 at 133 pounds and North Scott’s Mitch Bowman is 10-8 at 184 for the Hawkeyes, and Davenport Assumption’s Danny Bush wrestles for ISU at 174, where he has gone 14-14 for the Cyclones.
"This series has gone on a long time, and it’s between two historically good teams," Glynn said. "I’m excited to be a part of it."
The Hawkeyes’ Brandon Sorensen, second rated at 149 pounds, expects the focus to remain internal as much as anything as Iowa looks to move beyond its 28-13 loss last weekend at top-ranked Penn State.
"I like going over there and competing. It’s a fun meet," Sorensen said. "This year, it’s a meet where we need to keep our focus on our matches and doing what we can to get better. It’s our last match before Big Tens. We need to be ready to go."
With both the Big Ten meet at Michigan State and Big 12 finals at a neutral site in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in less than two weeks, that is the mindset both coaches are looking for as well.
Dresser, a former Iowa wrestler whose staff includes former Hawkeyes Mike Zadick, Derek St. John and Brent Metcalf, said the relationships between the programs do add to the Cy-Hawk rivalry in the sport.
"It all adds a little smoke and fire to it. There is certainly a lot of history between our programs and our staffs. While I’ve been away from it for a little while, I know what we’re getting into, and I’m anxious to see how we come out and compete, how we fight," Dresser said. "Now and down the road, it’s something we’ll use to see where we are at."