IOWA CITY — Preparing to face top-ranked Nathan Tomasello, Iowa senior Cory Clark is looking to take the mat tonight with just the right blend of skill and attitude.
“You want to find that sweet spot, be just right, rock solid and ready to rock, when that first whistle blows,’’ said Clark, whose match at 133 pounds against the Ohio State junior is one of seven which will feature competitors ranked in the top five in the country in the 7 p.m. dual at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Clark finds developing that edge to be an annual process, something he has worked to regain since a 7-6 loss to fifth-rated Kaid Brock of Oklahoma State knocked him out of the top spot in the national rankings earlier this month.
He rebounded last Friday with a technical fall over Penn State’s George Carpenter and will take a 10-1 record into his match against TomaSello, who is 10-0 on the season.
“I feel good with where things are at now. I made a couple of adjustments and I feel like things are headed in the right direction,’’ Clark said.
Coach Tom Brands is hoping for the same from his entire third-ranked team as it prepares to host the fourth-rated Buckeyes.
Iowa (7-2, 3-1 Big Ten) enters the dual following consecutive double-digit losses to top-ranked Oklahoma State and second-rated Penn State, just the second time in Brands’ 11 seasons the Hawkeyes have lost back-to-back duals.
“I grew up with (Dan) Gable’s philosophy that it is easy to move forward with success, but you can still move forward and not have success when you approach things with the right mindset,’’ Brands said.
Brands saw that mindset from 149-pounder Brandon Sorensen shortly after the third-ranked junior dropped a 9-8 decision to top-rated Zain Retherford of Penn State in a match that took two tiebreaker sessions to decide.
Sorensen faces another stiff test tonight in Micah Jordan, a fifth-ranked sophomore who is 21-0 on the season for the Buckeyes (8-0, 4-0).
“I saw him up in the room and his mind is right, it’s where it should be right now and that’s a good thing,’’ Brands said.
Steven Holloway will again start at 285 for Iowa following the ACL tear which has ended the season for eighth-ranked Sam Stoll.
“You saw Steven Holloway at the beginning of the year and now you’re going to see him at the end of the season. Steven Holloway is our heavyweight,’’ coach Tom Brands said, putting an end to any discussion of a potential lineup shake up.
“He’s got a tough task, but he should love it and embrace it. It’s an opportunity he might not have otherwise had.’’