Jaydin Eierman’s wait to take the mat in an Iowa singlet ends Friday night with a bit of a twist.
The three-time all-American for Missouri is expected to make his debut for the top-ranked Hawkeyes in an 8 p.m. season-opening dual against Nebraska at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The competition will be the first for Eierman in a collegiate meet since transferring to Iowa one year ago, looking to surround himself with the best possible competition both inside and outside the Iowa wrestling room.
“The coaching staff is one of the best in the world and they really work with their athletes,’’ Eierman said. “Our practices are built around us and how we want to feel by the end of competition. We’re trying to peak and not really kill ourselves at the beginning, but the practices have been really great.’’
Eierman, who begins his senior season as the nation’s top-ranked wrestler at 141 pounds, believes he has found what he was looking for in terms of training intensity.
“Every day, you’re going to have a war. There’s not one guy in that room that’s going to bow down to you,’’ Eierman said. “You have guys that are ready to fight for that lineup spot and that just makes everybody better because they’re going to push each other to the top.’’
In his Iowa debut, Eierman is expected to face a ranked opponent in the Cornhuskers’ eighth-ranked Chad Red.
A two-time all-American who finished third at the Big Ten Championships last season, Red won a 4-1 decision over Minnesota’s Marcos Polanco in Nebraska’s season-opening 22-14 win over the Golden Gophers last weekend.
Eierman and Red are among four Big Ten wrestlers ranked in the top eight in the nation at 141 and while that has all of Eierman’s attention, a dual against the Cornhuskers also hits home for the only newcomer expected to be in the Iowa lineup this week.
His father, Mike Eierman, was an all-American for Nebraska in 1993.
“I’m excited about it,’’ Jaydin Eierman said. “I’ve only competed against Nebraska one time in my career and that was at nationals my redshirt freshman year.’’
He expects to hear a little bit about the dual before it happens.
“Right now, I’m just excited. I give (Mike Eierman) a little hit here and there about it, going out against his school, but mostly I’m excited to finally just go out there and compete for the Hawkeyes,’’ Eierman said.
Eierman arrived at Iowa with an 89-14 career record and an aggressive approach that led him to pin 39 opponents during his career at Missouri, twice being selected as the wrestler of the year in the Mid-American Conference during his tenure with the Tigers.
“He’s a guy that when the lights are on, he’s going. Whether it’s in the practice room or on the mat, I know he’s going to be putting on a show,’’ Iowa 165-pound returning all-American Alex Marinelli said.
Marinelli said Eierman “brings a good vibe’’ to the wrestling room, prepared to wrestle hard on a daily basis as he trains.
“He loves to compete and I love to see it,’’ Marinelli said.
He said Eierman’s demeanor is a good fit with the rest of a team which returns nine all-Americans from a year ago and has unanimously been ranked as the top team in the country as the shortened 2020 season begins.
Eierman found the fit to be mutual.
“Whenever you see (other Iowa wrestlers) do interviews and talk about it, it’s never ‘I, I, I,’ it’s always ‘We have set out to do this’ or ‘We’re going to do this together and we have each other’s backs.’ It’s a family thing,’’ Eierman said.
“They’re here together, supporting each other and that’s what I loved. They’re going out there to fight for each other and not just for themselves. I wanted to be part of that.’’
In Iowa’s opener, he is expected to be one of four Hawkeyes who will face challenges from Cornhuskers ranked early this season in the top 10.
That includes at 174, where Iowa’s top-ranked Michael Kemerer could take on Nebraska’s third-ranked Mikey Labriola, who won his opener in the Minnesota by pin.
The other top-10 match possibility come at 197, where Cornhuskers senior Eric Schultz is ranked second and the Hawkeyes’ Jacob Warner begins his junior season ranked third.
Nebraska also has a sixth-ranked senior in Taylor Venz at 184, a weight where Iowa has ongoing competition and lists Nelson Brands as its probable starter. Brands is ranked eighth in one poll at the weight while another poll ranks the Hawkeyes’ Abe Assad at ninth.
Friday’s dual will be preceded by “extra’’ matches at 6 p.m. between the Hawkeyes and Cornhuskers, giving younger wrestlers on rosters a chance to compete in a coronavirus-impacted season that has seen the cancelation of a number of open tournaments.
The results of those matches will not count toward the team score and as will be the case throughout the shortened 2020-21 Big Ten season, the only spectators allowed at the dual will be immediate family members of participants.