IOWA CITY — Mitch Bowman helped the Iowa wrestling team any way he could last season.
He wrestled at three weights for the Hawkeyes as needed, taking the mat at 184, 197 and 285 while compiling a 4-3 record, including a pair of losses to opponents ranked in the top 10.
The junior from North Scott remains willing to compete wherever coach Tom Brands needs him, but both Bowman and Brands feel he’s finally found a home in the Hawkeye lineup at 184.
Bowman is off to a 4-0 start in a spot held down last season by all-American Sammy Brooks.
He is preparing to face Illinois’ Emery Parker, a 5-1 junior ranked ninth nationally, as Iowa works toward today’s 7 p.m. Big Ten dual opener against the Fighting Illini at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
"This is where I feel most comfortable at," Bowman said. "I’ve prepared all summer to move in at this spot, and I’m working to make it my own."
Brands sees Bowman as a natural fit at 184.
"He’s been willing to go where we need him, and I’m sure he’d continue to do the same — he’s that type of a kid — but right now I think we’ve finally got him at the weight where he needs to be," Brands said.
The Iowa coach likes the attitude and approach he sees on a regular basis from Bowman.
"He gets what we want to do, how we expect Iowa wrestlers to wrestle," Brands said. "He’s been around a couple of years. I like the way he works, the way he’s always looking to score and add to a lead."
Bowman is trying to put what he’s learned over the past three years in the Iowa wrestling room to work for him.
"It’s about being ready every time I step on the mat," Bowman said. "I got a good taste of competition last season, and I need to build off of that. I’m looking at this as my position. I want to be the guy at 184 for Iowa in March."
He understands what it will take to make that happen.
"It’s about competing, about winning and about getting after it the way that Iowa wrestlers do," Bowman said. "I’m excited to be in the position that I’m in. I’ve worked to get to this point, and I feel like I’m ready to make the most of it."
Bowman has collected bonus points in two of his first four matches this season, including one win by pin.
He worked to earn his spot during Iowa’s wrestle-offs in early November, pinning freshman Myles Wilson in the finals.
Bowman concentrated on improving his technique along with gaining the strength and stamina that it will take for him to be successful over seven-minute matches this season.
"I’ve worked to become better on my offensive moves, and the mindset is to make them work for me this season," Bowman said.
"I’ve tried to learn a lot from my matches last season, both from the good that happened and from areas where I need to get better. I’ve been looking for things that I can do to make me a better wrestler from start to finish in matches. I feel I’m making some progress there."
That, he believes, has him positioned for the success over the long haul.
"I don’t see this as just the start of the season. I see this as the start of something that I can build on beyond this year," Bowman said.
"It’s time to step up and be the guy to make things happen at 184, to do the things that (Brooks) did and take it to the next level. That’s the goal, to be that guy."