IOWA CITY — Winning Big Ten tournament titles is a big deal for the Iowa wrestling team.
Actually, it is serious business for the Hawkeyes.
In all, Iowa has won 35 team titles in history, but the Hawkeyes have not won an outright Big Ten tournament title since 2010, while sharing the crown with Ohio State in 2015.
While the focal point since Iowa last competed on Feb. 18 in the NWCA National Duals against Edinboro is sharpening the skills for 10 individuals who will compete Saturday and Sunday inside Indiana University’s Assembly Hall at the Big Ten Championships, winning the team title has been discussed.
Some of that talk has been serious and some of it has brought moments of levity.
“We do discuss things,” 149-pound junior and two-time all-American Brandon Sorensen of Cedar Falls said. “Actually just yesterday (Monday) we had the 10 guys step up in front of the group and kind of say what your goals are and how are you going to get there. You had an opportunity to ask questions if anybody had any questions.
“We discussed it as a team and that it is our goal to get that title and what we want to do to get that title.”
Did Sorensen get any questions?
“I did receive a few questions,” Sorensen said. “Some of them were technical like what are you going to do in this position and what are you going to do to capitalize in this position or if the leg comes in how are you going to defend.”
Then, Sorensen admitted, there were some silly questions.
“One of them was if you are getting ready to wrestle and Dwight Sorensen (Brandon’s dad) is rubbing your shoulders what would he say to you,” smiled Sorensen. “I think I said, ‘just stay relaxed go out there and do what you have been doing your whole life and wrestle.’
“I’m sure it would be something around that.”
Sorensen, seeded second at 149, one of five Hawkeyes seeded third or better, is a two-time Big Ten runner-up. Seeded ahead of him is Penn State’s Zain Retherford, whom Sorensen is 0-3 against all-time, including a last year’s national final, 10-1.
This year the two have met just once with Retherford pulling out a 9-8 TB2 victory in Iowa City.
“Here is the thing. I have guys before that I have to take care of,” when asked if he feels his in the underdog role. “Underdog or not that last match we had was a good one. Watching film there are a few things that I did good and things that I did bad.
“There were a couple of times I wasn’t moving my feet and he darted in and got a shot ... little things you look at and shake your head and think are silly and shouldn’t have happened. I have to learn from that and get ready for this weekend.”
Iowa coach Tom Brands says Sorensen knows he needs to open up and be offensive from the get-go. At 22-3, and ranked fourth nationally, all three of Sorensen’s losses this year have come in either sudden victory or tiebreakers.
“His best wrestling is ahead of him. I believe that and I know what his capabilities are,” Brands said. “Our conversations with him have been the same as they have always been. It doesn’t have to be close you have tremendous scoring potential and tremendous scoring ability.”
As far as the team race, Brands says that is a pretty straight forward answer as well.
“The individuals will take care of the team race,” Brands said. “The team race is certainly important. We want a good team results and that starts with individual results.
“We have made progress and now our best wrestling has to show up. That is most important ingredient. Our best wrestling has to show up in every individual weight class.”