December 2013

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NCAA Climb Starts at Base Camp By Chris Brewer S o you're a four-time Iowa high school state champion and all you got was this freshman redshirt? Such is the life for Jake Marlin and Brandon Sorensen, and such was the life for Cory Clark and Nick Moore. All four wrestlers rose to the top of their prep championship bracket four times. Moore wrapped the four-peat in 2010. Clark won his fourth title in 2012, and Marlin and Sorensen became the state's 22nd and 23rd four-time winners in 2013. All four took their talents to the Dan Gable Wrestling Complex, where they quickly learned the first step toward winning at the next level comes with a redshirt and a lesson in humility. "They realize the difference (between high school and college) right away," said UI head coach Tom Brands. "In wrestling it's easy to be humbled, you don't have to walk very far. That's what you crave when you're trying to get better at the next level, and the next and the next." To go along with a combined eight state titles, Marlin holds the state record for career pins; Sorensen for career wins. Their prep numbers are historical, but Marlin says today they're history. "I don't think (high school success) means anything, definitely not at this point," said Marlin, who intends to make his Hawkeye debut Dec. 14 at the UNI Open. "When you're in high school, it's different because that's who everyone looks up to. But in here you're just another guy. You have the guys on the (All-America) wall, and those are the really tough guys. It's not you. You're not on the wall yet." Make no mistake, the redshirt is not the equivalent of a one-year vacation. It is work, and it is designed to be a launching pad for that wall. Moore won two tournament titles during his redshirt season, Clark won four, and Sorensen nearly won a tournament in his Hawkeye debut, falling to teammate Derek St. John in the finals. Today, Clark has six pins and zero losses in eight varsity bouts. Moore is 3-0 with two pins and a win over Iowa State's sixth-ranked Michael Moreno. Both wrestlers are ranked among the top-eight at their respective weights. "They're becoming men all the time," Brands said of the freshmen. "They're maturing biologically and learning the philosophy of the program. It's about accountability, owning up and doing the things they do to put themselves in position to be successful. It's not just going through the process. It's going through the process with energy." In some college wrestling rooms there is little time for principles and philosophies — four state titles and 200plus career wins would equate to a spot in the lineup. But the Hawkeye room has depth, which affords first-year wrestlers time to make adjustments. "I would much rather redshirt. I think it benefits you because it gives you an extra year of maturity," said Marlin. "We go hard in here. It's intense and you can get beat on, but it's what you do to make yourself better. The room isn't magical. It starts with you. It starts with work." Moore said he noticed immediately the room is much tougher — starting with the workout partners — and his advice to the redshirts is simple. "Keep fighting. It will get better." 29

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