IOWA CITY — The reality of it all is sinking in for Iowa wrestler Brandon Sorensen.
The Hawkeyes’ highest-seeded entry for the NCAA Championships, which begin at 11 a.m. today in Cleveland, is preparing for his final meet at the collegiate level, seeded second to longtime nemesis Zain Retherford of Penn State in the 149-pound weight class.
"There’s nothing to lose," Sorensen said. "I’ve tried not to reflect too much on the past and look at the big picture. I’ll reflect later. Now, it’s the time to go out and take care of business."
Business has been good from the start for Sorensen, who has hopes of becoming the 20th Hawkeye to become a four-time all-American.
His resume includes a fourth-place finish as a freshman followed by runner-up and third-place efforts the past two seasons.
Sorensen ranks 18th on Iowa’s career wins list with 121, and with his next victory will climb into a tie for 15th with Chris Campbell, Mike DeAnna and Matt McDonough.
This week he works toward his ultimate objective — becoming a national champion.
"We’ve talked about Brandon Sorensen’s legacy and how it is much more than his winning ways. It goes way deeper than that," Iowa coach Tom Brands said. "He wants his legacy to be, from his perspective, more meaningful than numbers behind his name. I put him on par with the best."
And to achieve that objective?
"He knows he probably needs to stand on that top stand," Brands said. "I know what he’s after."
Retherford stands between Sorensen and meeting the objective of the Cedar Falls native who was a four-time Iowa state high school champion at Denver.
The two-time defending NCAA champion has won his last 89 matches, a string that includes six wins over Sorensen dating to a 4-0 decision at the 2016 Big Ten Championships at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Along the way, Retherford has beaten Sorensen by pin, by major decision and fought his way to wild 9-8 decision decided in a second tiebreaker period during a 2017 dual between the teams.
In their most recent meeting in the finals of the Big Ten Championships earlier this month, Retherford used an escape and a point for riding time to claim a 2-0 win.
"No matter who I am competing against, I have to go out and be true to what I’ve trained to do and how I’ve always competed," Sorensen said. "That’s where any success begins."
One of nine Hawkeyes who begin competition this morning, Sorensen has worked to learn from his previous NCAA experiences with a goal of making that work for him this year.
"It’s a three-day tournament, a three-day weigh-in, so it’s good to have experience there," Sorensen said. "Recovery between matches, getting a cool down to relieve any soreness, you’ll feel better the next day. It’s time to be ready to go in and fight. It’s toward the end of the year, go out and make the most of it."
And at the end of the day, Sorensen is anxious to make the most of an opportunity to build on his 21-2 record beginning today with a match against Jared Prince of Navy.
"It’s my final time. It’s time to just go in and not hold anything back," Sorensen said. "It’s time to let it all fly and give it everything I’ve got."