Michigan dual postponement serves as cautionary tale for Iowa wrestling
Hawkeyes look to extend its Big Ten dual win streak to 21 against No. 9 Illinois on Sunday
By Tyler Devine
IOWA CITY, Iowa – On the mat, the top-ranked Iowa wrestling team has looked close to unstoppable.
But the one opponent that may concern head coach Tom Brands the most is the highly-contagious COVID-19 virus which caused Iowa’s matchup with No. 2 Michigan on Sunday to be postponed due to a 14-day pause of all activities within the Michigan athletic department amid a wave of positive tests.
Regardless, Iowa will attempt to extend its Big Ten dual win streak to 21 against No. 9 Illinois on Sunday.
“There’s a message,” Brands said. “The COVID message is that no matter how well you do it, no matter how you do it right, you can get bit. It is what it is. It’s literally like the flu. It’s not like you can determine your fate here. The message with Michigan is that there’s a concerted effort out there by the athletes, and rightly so, to advocate for them competing, so stay ready. Most important is we’ve still got a date on the calendar and Illinois is coming to town regardless, so we’ve got to be ready to go.”
The dual meet with Michigan would have featured seven matches between wrestlers ranked in the top 10 in their respective weight classes, including a matchup between Iowa’s top-ranked 174-pounder Michael Kemerer and second-ranked Logan Massa of Michigan.
“We were all looking forward to it,” Senior 197-pounder Jacob Warner said. “Obviously, they’re number two. We were assuming they were going to have their big guns in the lineup getting ready to roll. I think when we found out it was just a little disappointing.”
With Iowa seeking its first national team title since 2010, Brands has been adamant that, no matter what, the season must end with the NCAA Championships.
Iowa looked to be on track to do so last season before the NCAA Tournament was canceled due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States.
Brands reiterated his opinion Tuesday when asked if a change or a shortening of the schedule may be necessary to make sure a champion is crowned.
“Whether we alter course or change the format of getting into the postseason quicker, whatever, hitting a pause during the regular season,” Brands said. “I don’t know if it really matters. I think you’re just going to have to plough through and maybe with a little bit of luck you get to the end. But we’ve got to get to the end.”