By Sam Louwagie
Just under a year after tearing both ACLs, Iowa wrestler Dylan Carew feels “like a million bucks,” he said at the team’s media day on Wednesday.
Head coach Tom Brands said Carew likely won’t compete in Iowa’s wrestle-offs beginning today, but that the 149-pounder looked healthy.
“We’ll see what we do with him,” Brands said. “It’s precautionary. We’re just taking it one step at a time … We’ll see if he gets a match or not this weekend.”
Carew tore an ACL shortly before last season. The then-redshirt freshman planned to wrestle the season anyway, and won a pair of matches at the Iowa City Duals last Nov. 19. But just days later, his attempts to wrestle through injury were derailed when he tore the ACL in his other knee.
Carew sat out the remainder of the season, and Iowa struggled to replace him; 149 was the only weight class in which Iowa didn’t send a wrestler to the NCAA Championships last season.
“The part that stung was not being able to compete,” Carew said. “And we came up short as a team in a few spots where I feel like I could have helped a lot last year. I feel like I could have done really, really well.”
Carew spent a week in a wheelchair following the second tear. But now the Iowa City West High graduate says he is healthy, and credits the team’s coaches and trainers for helping him progress “lightyears ahead of where I was.”
Other options at 149 for the Hawkeyes include Jeret Chiri and brothers Mark and Jake Ballweg.
Heavyweight battle begins
Blake Rasing was the Big Ten champion at heavyweight last season. He’ll have to withstand a stiff challenge just to remain Iowa’s starter there this year.
While Rasing was posting an 18-7 record and winning the conference title, highly-touted freshman Bobby Telford was going 22-4 while competing unattached as a redshirt. Telford won titles at six open tournaments during the season, and won the FILA Junior Nationals heavyweight title in the spring.
“Bob Telford is a motivated heavyweight,” Brands said. “He’s what you would expect young guys to come into the program as: Motivated and hungry and not worrying about what’s in front of them. The other side of the coin is Blake Rasing. He’s not going to lay down. We like both these guys, they’re both very capable.”
Rasing said he didn’t expect to be handed a starting position, and that competition at heavyweight is nothing new.
“Every year I’ve been here, there’s been a battle at the heavyweight class,” he said. “It’s the same thing every year, but maybe a different face.”
Evans drops to 165
Redshirt freshman Mike Evans wrestled at 189 in high school. He was listed at 174 last season as a redshirt. This season, he will compete for Iowa’s starting spot at 165 pounds.
“I’ve always been kind of light in high school, when I wrestled whatever weight I was at,” Evans said. “One day after practice, I came in a little light, left a little light, and I felt pretty good. It was just impulse to go to 165.”
Evans said cutting weight has not been difficult, but Brands praised his determination.
“No discussion about what class he was going,” the sixth-year Iowa coach said. “Didn’t come in and say ‘Coach, can I talk to you?’ He just did it. That’s what we like. That’s ownership.”