Duals Champs: Tom Brands Q&A

The top-ranked University of Iowa wrestling team won its 17th National Duals title Sunday, beating Cornell 23-13 in Cedar Falls. It's the first time that the Hawkeyes - who won the team title in 2008 - won back-to-back National Duals titles since 1995 and 1996. The Hawkeyes improved to 14-0 on the season, and have won their last 28 matches. Tom Brands talks about the championship and more...

Q: You had two guys in Chad Beatty and Dan Erekson, two experiments at their weights, and they come through for you at the end.

Tom Brands: You know what, that is ok to say that. They are established there. They knew at the beginning of the year they could have certified at other weights. We had a conversation and that was what weight are you going to go? Are you going after 74 or 84 with gusto, and if things don't work out. Chad said no; with his frame, he could move up. He is very unselfish. He said he wanted to be a 97 pounder. Also add to the fact that there is motivation involved due to how he ended at the Big Ten's, that doesn't sit well with him. As for Dan Erekson, he has been a real heavyweight for the last eight or nine months. Chris Doyle at the football program gets a lot of credit; he put some size on him this offseason. It's a team effort no doubt.

Q: Is it neat though when two guys that noone talks about in Beatty and Erekson come through?

Brands: We dug ourselves a hole, and you are right. We needed some help digging out of the hole. It was back and forth, Metcalf gets a bonus point, and they get one. We lose a close one at 65, we win one at 74. 84 we handle it, 97, a good hard fought match, with an exclamation point, and at heavyweight, you get the fall.

Q: Metcalf is a leader on this team, he scored a lot of points, but he is having a hard time getting guys to their backs to pick up those extra points. What is the deal there?

Brands: He needs to work harder, increase the pace to where it's dizzying for the opponent, and that is how you will pin those guys. You have to work harder to create openings. It doesn't mean you can't pin from the top, but he has to get better riding out. People ask about comparisons to him and Gable. If he wants that, he has to be a pinner from the top.

Q: Are you guys to the point where things are on a roll?

Brands: It's not automatic. We fought. We had to fight our tails off, this was a brawl. It was a brawl, energy wise for everybody involved and it's a tribute to how we responded and dug ourselves out of a hole.

Q: How nice was it to see Erekson get that exclamation point win?

Brands: It's big. You wrestle your match and attack. The positive thing is that he wrestled his match.

Q: How much longer will Erekson's athleticism surprise people?

Brands: I don't know. I think has established himself, he is legit and the word is out. 5th place at Midlands didn't sit well with him, but the thing about him is he is excited about the process of getting better, and he is getting better. That is huge. The same with Beatty, this is his first competition since his knee injury. That is outstanding. He dealt with adversity, which is huge for our program.

Q: Does it send a message when you guys can win this event without an All American in Charlie Falck?

Brands: I think it sends a message to our young guys waiting in the wings, this is why we train like we do, and this is why we coach like we coach. If you are not maybe up to snuff. When you are doing what you are supposed to do, good things happen. Krutzinger this morning, that was a big match for us. You never know how it will transpire and move forward. It's a message more to the guys redshirting, why we train, what we are getting ready for, how tough it is but more importantly how you harden yourselves for battle daily.

Q: It looked like Alex Tsirtsis picked up the pace when you guys really needed it.

Brands: Alex Tsirtis, we lose those first two matches and he starts digging us out of the hole, and then Metcalf working hard for the fall. That is two bonus points, and we dug out and we had some bonus point work even though we wanted more with Metcalf. But he (Metcalf) wrestled better than he did this morning and yesterday. Tsirtis, also, but Metcalf wrestled harder, better and smarter than he did this morning. He was on autopilot until this afternoon.

Q: Morningstar has been going through a gauntlet of Top 5 rated wrestlers so far this year. Will it help him out come March?

Brands: It's up to him to respond to this. I don't feel like wrestled. I don't think that was him out there. Not like he did at the midlands. I don't think that was representative of him at all.

Q: How about Jay, he sucked it up there.

Brands: That was a big win coming off a loss. He was in again to finish, and then fell down and battled back. He has to be on the attack, always. His feet have to move. Good things will happen, because he is a tremendous wrestler. I don't think he gives himself enough credit with how he can wrestle.

Q: The last time you were up here against UNI, Erekson didn't have a shining moment. What have you seen out of him since then?

Brands: There has been a lot of hands on and a lot of embracing from his point. We talk about guys buying into the program, because we believe they have. We believe in their response, and there has been a tremendous response. He has had to get out of his comfort zone and he has done well. More hands on than in the past, but he is hungry. He is excited about understanding the sport, getting better. He has a long way to go and he knows that, and he is excited about it.

Q: It seemed like a lot of people considered you guys the underdog in this tournament.

Brands: I don't look at us being the underdog. I knew it would be a scrap. It always will be. Whether you are down or not. Which way are you going to go? You are missing your 25 pounder, so which way are you going to go? You have to respond.


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