How Hawkeyes’ wrestlers plan to handle pressure of biggest dual in years

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Top-ranked Iowa versus No. 2 Penn State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday night — one of the biggest wrestling duals in years for the Hawkeyes program. There’s pressure on both sides, up-and-down the lineups, to perform. How the Hawks plan to handle that pressure depends on who you ask.

“I feed off pressure and I love it,” 125-pound junior Spencer Lee said. “I just gotta go out there, wrestle my match. You’ve gotta relax, wrestle hard, smart, takedown, turn. That’s pretty much how I think.”

“Pressure is a good thing,” Iowa head coach Tom Brands said. “Every time out I want to perform my best, that’s pressure. When you look within and the challenges and how do you want to be remembered, how you’re gonna write your career story. You’re doggone right there’s pressure.”

“We can’t get too excited if we haven’t wrestled yet,” 165-pound junior Alex Marinelli said. “If I’ve wrestled and I’ve done my job, I can kind of cheer on my guys. But if I’m not wrestling, I’ve got to stay calm and not get myself worked up where I’m wrestling a match, technically, in my mind and then going out and wrestling another one.”

“I wrestle later in the dual, so it’s cheering my guys on, but I’m just staying relaxed, staying in my own match, not getting super into it like a fan,” 174-pound senior Michael Kemerer said. “Then when it’s my time to go out, just being ready to wrestle and going out, doing what I do.”

Penn State enters Friday with a Big Ten winning streak of 40 dual meets. The last team to beat Penn State was in 2015 — it’s the team they’ll face on Friday, these Iowa Hawkeyes.

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