Earlier this year, the Boise State wrestling team had a home date set against defending national champion Oklahoma State. The match was canceled when OSU could not get to Boise do to weather and attempts to reschedule the match at a later date were unsuccessful. However, the Broncos do get to meet a highly decorated wrestling team prior to the PAC-10 Championships which are set for February 26-27 in Palo Alto, California.
This Friday, Coach Greg Randall's squad meets one of wrestling's all-time powerhouses as the Broncos take on 11th-ranked University of Iowa. The match is set for 7:00 p.m. (CT) at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City.
The Broncos struggled with injuries and inconsistency during a recent three-match losing streak but did shut out Portland State 46-0 last Friday to run their dual record to 8-4 and 4-3 in the PAC-10. Iowa is 10-7 overall and 4-4 in the Big Ten Conference.
The dual will feature no less than ten nationally ranked wrestlers. The Hawkeyes are led by Ty Eustice, the #2 wrestler in the nation at 149 pounds, Mark Perry, who is #3 at 174 pounds, #6 Joe Johnston at 157, 9th-ranked Paul Bradley at 184, heavyweight Ryan Fuller (#12), 13th-rated Alex Tsirtsis at 141 pounds and Eric Luedke, the #17 wrestler in the nation at 165 pounds.
Boise State's Ben Cherrington, who missed the first part of the season with an injury, has rebounded and will take an 11-0 record and #11 ranking into his match with Johnston at 157. Johnston is 21-5 this season and has won his last three bouts by major decision.
Other nationally ranked Broncos are Scott Jorgensen, who himself has missed the past month due to injury, and Casey Phelps. Jorgensen is 12th in the country with a 19-6 record; he'll face Iowa's Daniel Dennis at 133 pounds. Phelps has compiled a 23-7 season mark, good for 11th in the nation at 197 pounds. Phelps is slated to face Dan Erekson, a freshman from Eagle High School who thus far is 13-13 in his college career.
While Boise State's wrestlers are not nationally ranked in the 149, 184 and heavyweight division, the Broncos will need a win in one of those classifications to have any chance at an upset Friday. Although outranked by the Hawkeyes, Coach Randall's team possesses talent at those weights with individuals capable of producing a shocker. Tyler Sherfey (149 pounds) has the team's best record at 25-7. Eustice has been on the shelf for Iowa with an injury; if he's unable to wrestle, junior Alex Grunder will get the nod for Iowa. K.C. Walsh, who leads the Broncos with four falls this season, will take an 18-10 record into the match for Coach Randall at 184 pounds. Heavyweight Andy Patrick is 19-12 and was ranked earlier in the year.
The remainder of the matches are as follows: Boise State freshman Cory Fish (17-11) vs. Lucas Magnani at 125 pounds, senior Jordan Brock (5-15) going for the Broncos against Tsirtsis at 141, junior Lex Case (5-9) vs. Iowa's Luedke at 165 and senior Ben Gilliland (9-11) vs.Ben Stedman at 174 pounds. Magnani lost to two PAC-10 wrestlers already this season--#7 Jeremy Mendoza of Arizona State and #19 Tanner Gardner of Stanford. He's also been defeated by #1 Joseph Dubuque of Indiana, #2 Sam Hazewinkel of Oklahoma, #9 Paul Donahoe of Nebraska and #15 Patrick Castillo of Northern Illinois and pinned by unranked Tim Haas of Penn State. Stedman is filling in for another wounded Hawkeye--Mark Perry.
This Friday's dual will also be a homecoming for Boise State head coach Greg Randall. Randall was a three-time NCAA All-American (1984-86) in the 134-pound weight class for legendary Hawkeye head coach Dan Gable. Randall, in his fourth season at the helm of the Bronco grapplers, was national runner-up in 1984 and 1986 for Iowa, helping the team to four consecutive NCAA national championships.
Iowa's head man is Jim Zalesky, in his seventh season (100-19) for the Hawkeyes. Zalesky was National Coach of the Year in 1998 and 1999 and Big Ten Coach of the Year in 2000. Under his guidance, Iowa has won three NCAA National Championships and two Big Ten titles. Zalesky has coached nine NCAA Champions, 19 Big Ten Champions and 32 All-Americans at Iowa. A three-time national champion and one of the school's 15 four-time All-Americans, Zalesky was undefeated in his junior and senior seasons. He ended his career with 89 straight wins. Zalesky was an assistant and head recruiter for Gable for seven seasons prior to being promoted to head coach. He was named Assistant Coach of the Year in 1992 and 1997.
The 1981-82 Iowa squad that Zalesky was a member of deserves particular mention. That team went 16-0-1, with the lone blemish being a 19-19 tie at Oklahoma. The Hawkeyes captured their fifth consecutive NCAA National Championship, setting a record team total of 131 3/4 points. Three Hawkeyes won individual national titles--Barry Davis at 118 pounds, Zalesky at 158 and Pete Bush at 190. Iowa wrestlers also picked up two seconds, a third, a sixth and a seventh place finish at the NCAA's that year.
Iowa's overall dual meet record is 768-194-30 (.789) in 92 seasons. The Hawkeyes have won 20 national titles, including nine of the last 13, and 30 Big Ten titles. Iowa's 46 NCAA Champions have won a total of 71 NCAA individual titles, crowning six three-time and 13 two-time champions. The Hawkeyes' 98 Big Ten Champions have won a total of 179 conference individual titles. There have been seven four-time, 18 three-time and 24 two-time Iowa winners. Iowa's 124 all-Americans have earned all-America status 250 times, including 16 four-time, 26 three-time and 30 two-time honorees.
The match will be broadcast live by KXIC-AM in Iowa and can be listened to online by buying an All-Access one-month subscription for $6.95. You can also follow the game live by clicking on the "Livestats" link Friday night on the Iowa website.