IOWA CITY — When Austin DeSanto makes his expected to return to the Iowa wrestling lineup Friday, Paul Glynn will be there for his Hawkeye teammate.
When Glynn stepped into the lineup and recorded a pin during last weekend’s rout of Maryland, DeSanto was among the first to congratulate the junior from Bettendorf when he came off the mat.
“Those two, they have a very rare relationship where you have two guys who really root for each other,’’ Iowa coach Tom Brands said. “DeSanto was really rooting for Paul Glynn at Illinois and (Friday against Maryland). I think Paul Glynn reciprocates that really well.’’
Brands doesn’t always see the respect he sees developing between the Hawkeyes’ top two 133-pound wrestlers.
“I’m not saying they’re best buddies. I’m not saying they’re not fighting for the same real estate,’’ Brands said. “What I’m saying is that there’s a mature response there and it makes our team better.’’
Glynn was Iowa’s 133-pound starter last season, going 8-11. DeSanto, a sophomore, joined the program during the offseason as a transfer after qualifying for the NCAA tourney at the weight class a year ago during a 29-7 season for Drexel.
Competing “for the same turf,’’ as Brands puts it, DeSanto earned the starting opportunity for this year’s Iowa team during preseason wrestle-offs.
He heads into Friday’s 7 p.m. home finale against Indiana ranked third nationally at 133 with a 14-1 record.
Glynn, who replaced DeSanto in the lineup in recent duals against Illinois and Maryland, is currently 9-4 on the season.
“It means a lot to me to have the chances that I’ve received,’’ Glynn said. “A lot of people don’t know this, but at the beginning of the season I was really struggling deciding on what my role exactly was here,’’ Glynn said.
“I kind of went through a phase where I didn’t really know where I belonged. I was almost trying to take a short cut, trying to go up a weight class.’’
Ultimately Glynn decided following a conversation with Brands that moving up to 141, where Iowa also had a competitive lineup situation, was not where he needed to be.
“It wasn’t just wrestling. We talked about what was best for me,’’ Glynn said. “We talked about how I needed to be more dedicated at 133. I’ve had to become more focused with my social life, with wrestling, coming in and getting in more workouts. That’s going to make you a better person even when you’re done wrestling.’’
Brands has seen the results of that conversation pay dividends on and off the mat as he has watched Glynn work in recent weeks.
Inserted into the lineup in a Jan. 20 dual at Illinois, Glynn faced the Fighting Illini’s 17th-ranked Dylan Duncan. Facing an opponent who had defeated him 6-1 and 9-1 last season, Glynn earned a 3-1 decision over Duncan in overtime.
“The pundits might say, ‘Well, he’s gotten so much better,’ but really it’s about the mindset and the things that emotionally control you either negatively or positively,’’ Brands said. “He switched some negative emotions into positive ones where he actually truly got on board with what’s going on with this team.’’
That continued to be on display during Friday’s win over the Terrapins’ Orion Anderson.
Taking the mat ready to compete, Glynn built a 4-1 advantage before recording his first pin of the season during the first period of the match.
“The challenge is just staying focused, always being ready,’’ Glynn said. “Even when I’m weighing in and I’m not wrestling, I’m still always ready. You never know what’s going to happen.’’
But now, Brands knows what he’s going to get from Glynn.
“Much respect for Paul Glynn,’’ Brands said. “He was in a pretty dark place when DeSanto showed up here, but he’s weighed in every week this season, been ready to go. He’s committed to himself, and he’s committed to this program. Paul Glynn, he’s earned our respect.’’