Coach Brands, you defeated Michigan 22-9 on Friday and then had a better performance in defeating Virginia 30-6 on Sunday. Any comments on your performance and where your team is at right now.
Tom Brands: I think Michigan was sloppy a little bit. Frustrating match at 184. Frustrating match at Heavyweight. At Heavyweight, when we get legs in the air we have to finish. That has to be part of our mindset and our mentality more than probably technical. What I mean by that is that we have been working and working and really the first time you step on a wrestling mat you are finishing leg tackles. All the way back to infancy you have been finishing leg attacks. You gotta do it now, and that’s a mentality.
At 125 Thomas Gilman looked good with a 6-1 win over Michigan, and then you wrestled Phillip Laux against Virginia. This weekend at National Duals, Gilman has the number one, two, three, seven, and tenth ranked wrestlers in the country coming into town.
Tom Brands: Yea, good for us. Gilman has been nicked up a little bit, maybe slowed down a little bit but we’re not worried about that and neither is he and that’s the thing he will do whatever you ask him to do. You don’t even have to ask him, he’s a motor that’s ready to go. We’ve got things to do there and hey, the more ranked guys the better. Let’s have a big party.
I thought that was the best Cory Clark that I have seen in college this past weekend when he picked up a pair of Major Decisions. Clark now has thirteenth ranked Nick Soto of Chattanooga.
Tom Brands: We’ll see what happens there. They have ranked wrestlers at 125 and 133. We’ll see what happens there. Clark needs to be ready there. Not to look ahead, not too much, Minnesota and whatever team we face, we gotta be ready. Every weight will be tough because we have the top four teams in American coming into town. Missouri, Ohio State, Minnesota, and us. We definitely gotta be ready.
That was also the best Josh Dziewa that I have ever seen this past weekend. I thought Dziewa looked great in outscoring his opponents 17-1 in his two matches including an 11-1 Major Decision over thirteenth ranked Joe Spisak of Virginia.
Tom Brands: He’s putting it together. The best you’ve ever seen him is true consistently over the last couple of weeks is what we’ve gotta have. I know he feels good, we gotta keep it going there. He’s been sporadic, he’s been good, but becoming more solid, more consistent.
A tough win for second ranked Brandon Sorenson against Michigan and then he really turned it on against Virginia. After a takedown clinic that had a Tech Fall secured, Sorenson got the fall and looked real sharp.
Tom Brands: He’s doing what he needs to do. He needs to keep scoring first period takedowns. There’s a difference when things start opening up when he attacks and I think we can attack that way when things are blown open early when he is a little tight and hesitant sometimes. We gotta get two hands on the leg there and work the angles coming up.
Michael Kelly at 157 dropped a close match to Michigan and then rebounded with a win against Virginia.
Tom Brands: Here’s the thing with Mike Kelly. He’s an optimist. We love him and he works hard and he’s gonna make hay because he’s smart and his opponents begin to fatigue. But we gotta put points on the board. I thought his attacks were a little better on Sunday against Virginia, but I tell ya what, there are some reactions there we just have to get a little more flow to what’s an easy finish and then we’ll be good.
At 165, Nick Moore looked good against Michigan and just ran out of time against fourth ranked Nick Sulzer of Virginia.
Tom Brands: That’s a big match for Moore and you know we’re not about moral victories, but we will take progress and he’s definitely made progress. Now we have to finish and put the icing on the cake in that match and we’re really doing good. Nick’s feeling better about himself and I think there are some good signs there.
At 174, Mike Evans won a hard fought decision against Michigan. Alex Meyer continues to entertain us all with another great match and stole the show by coming from behind to defeat sixth ranked Blaise Butler of Virginia, 9-8.
Tom Brands: Meyers is just tough. The thing about that match is, what was pointed out to me by two or three people, is Evans is a team player. He was rooting for Meyer, he was coaching him. After the match they were in the hallway and Evans was genuinely pleased about Meyer winning, and that is big. It was the right thing to do to rest Evans. We got two guys there that can do some good work for us. The good thing about Meyer is that he will do whatever we ask of him. It’s not because we ask him, but because he is ready to go.
Sammy Brooks at 184 lost a close one against Michigan but responded with an impressive 20-7 Major Decision against Virginia.
Tom Brands: Good match against Virginia. He’s gonna be wide open. He’s the kind of guy that’s a gunslinger and a little bit sloppy at times. You can still put guys away in the end that way. You just cannot let guys hang around too much. It was a frustrating match against Michigan on a lot of levels and it got away from us in the end. Even with a win there it’s a frustrating match. We have to finish leg attacks.
Sixth ranked Nathan Burak had a solid weekend in defeating two ranked wrestlers. He had a great double leg takedown with backpoints to defeat eighth ranked Max Huntley of Michigan, 4-0 OT. Burak then defeated nineteenth ranked Zach Nye of Virginia, 8-2.
Tom Brands: Good against Virginia in widening the gap against a ranked wrestler. Against Huntley it didn’t have to come down to the end, but good job. Actually he wrestled out of some hairy situations. So he’s getting better as we go along. But the key there is that was a big match for post season. He did what he had to do. I liked his comments after the match that he knew he was going to win
At Heavyweight, Bobby Telford dropped a close match to Adam Coon of Michigan, 3-2 . On Sunday you had Kris Klapprodt move up from 197 and he looked real good in defeating Patrick Gillen of Virginia, 7-2.
Tom Brands: For Klapprodt, good for him. That’s big and a fun match for the fans. Also I was interested to see how that match worked out. The Telford match, finish and it’s a whole different match. You don’t have to go to overtime. You have limited opportunities. Morningstar said something that was really tale-tell in that match. That is there were opportunities in the match that were Telford characteristics. In the past he could get to the legs off front headlocks and we weren’t getting them. So something was off a little bit. I know he has a bug in his belly but that doesn’t matter to him. We just get him feeling good and back to where he’s humming and motoring on all cylinders.
Competing against State wrestling, it’s unfortunate for fans but you should still get a good crowd on Saturday and a great crowd on Sunday.
Tom Brands: National Duals. They changed that for television on Saturday. It was a late change, almost October. Sometimes you’re trying to get us on TV and the Big Ten Network did not know what they could do for us. Then we got some heavy hitters involved like Chris Bevilacqua and some people in the business world and they got it done. So we’re going to have a semifinal round on TV live on Big Ten Network and then the finals on Sunday live on TV.