tiger hawkThe Iowa wrestling team will be chasing their first NCAA team championship since 2010 in St. Louis this weekend. The Hawkeyes have their entire 10-man lineup in the NCAA Wrestling Tournament, which begins Thursday morning and runs through Saturday.

Iowa Coach Tom Brands believes his wrestlers are physically and mentally prepared. “That’s the going to be the difference in close matches…is, really, how bad do you want it? That’s an old sports cliché,” Brands said. “But, how bad do you want it?” Iowa has eight wrestlers that are seeded 9th or better at their weight classes. But, the Hawkeyes have no competitors seeded first or second.

Brands was asked what he’ll tell his team before they step on the mat. “The things that matter, matter. The things that don’t matter, don’t matter,” Brands said. “It’s like, control what you can control. If there is a hole that you’ve dug yourself in, then get out of that hole as quick as possible, so that clock does not become a factor. That’s what ‘peaking’ is…so, we’ve got a lot of work to do, but we’ve got the guys to do the work too, if they perform to their ability.”

Penn State has won the last four NCAA Wrestling Championships, but this year, the teams that are expected to battle for the title include the top five ranked teams: Missouri, Iowa, Cornell, Minnesota and Ohio State. The 8th-ranked Iowa State Cyclones have seven wrestlers in the tournament, while Northern Iowa has four.