November 2014

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81 "We have to remember that we wrestled him as a true freshman," Brands said. "Guys can get ready, but we like to have them in our room a year. We put him into the lineup aer being in our room for four months. e biggest thing that he has learned is he can be comfortable around the coach -- me. In the last 18 months he has become more comfortable and that's a good thing." Burak's father, Steve, was a wrestler; his brother, Gabe, competed at Northern Colorado and another brother, Micah, competed at Penn. Despite that history, Nathan wanted to be a gymnast…until his physique stretched to 6-foot-1, 197 pounds. "I figured I would get bigger and I might be a little too big for gymnastics," Burak said. "I started liking wrestling more and it worked out well from there. You start winning and you start liking it more." Micah, a three-time NCAA qualifier who placed seventh in 2012, was 94-28 for his career; Gabe, an NCAA qualifier in 2011, was 86-33. "Having two brothers who were good at it helped a lot," Burak said. "ey are older than me so they're going to make me better by drilling and helping with my technique." Both Brands and Burak seek a leap in production during his third year with the Hawkeye program. "We're looking for a little bit higher up on that podium," Brands said. "Like seven spots." Burak knows what he has to do to get past Missouri's J'den Cox, Kyven Gadson of Iowa State, and Conner Hartmann of Duke, as well as conference foes Scott Schiller (Minnesota), Morgan McIntosh (Penn State), and Kyle Snyder (Ohio State). "e big thing is keeping constant pressure on my opponents by attacking more," Burak said. "I need to attack and not wait to see what they will do. I N athan Burak's wrestling career at the University of Iowa can be summed up by his performance at the 2014 NCAA Championships: successful with a dose of what if. ere were two straight wins to open the national tournament, including a heart-stopping, last- second 4-3 decision against No. 6 Richard Perry of Bloomsburg. en there was a loss to Chris Penny of Virginia Tech, a competitor Burak defeated three months earlier at Midlands. Aer downing Mario Gonzalez of Illinois to secure All-America status, Burak dropped his final two bouts for eighth place. "He is going to have to be consistent. ere has to be seven minutes of hard wrestling where it's not a situation where he can relax or it can be close and he is going to come out in the end," UI head coach Tom Brands said. "It doesn't have to be close with him." Burak took a nontraditional route to mats inside the Dan Gable Wrestling Complex. He trained for a year at the U.S. Olympic Complex in Colorado Springs, Colorado, aer a successful career at nearby Coronado High School. While at the training center, Burak met Terry Brands, who would later become associate head coach for the Hawkeyes. "I liked (Terry) a lot and I assumed his twin brother was like him," Burak said. Not so, according to Tom Brands, who says, "Terry and Tom are different." Personalities of the coaching staff aside, the Hawkeyes had an immediate opening for a 197-pounder, and Burak was the man. He went 20- 17 as a freshman in 2012-13, placing fourth in the Big Ten Conference and qualifying for the NCAA Championships. Last season Burak was 19-8 with a fih-place showing at Big Tens before earning his first All-America award.

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