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IOWA CITY – It has been just one week and eight matches.
The work behind the scenes has been enough for University of Iowa Nathan Burak to be ready when he steps to center stage.
After staying out of competition for more than a month to start the season, Burak has returned to the lineup at 197 pounds, improving to 6-2 this season with a win in the third-ranked Hawkeyes 41-0 trouncing of Michigan State in a Big Ten Conference dual last night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The preparation and conditioning in the wrestling room has resulted in a good transition to his matches. He said he is glad to be back as a starter.
"I've been working on my timing a lot before that in the practice room," Burak said after a 3-0 win over Nick McDiarmid. "The matches help."
He was available for a few duals in December, but 184-pound red-shirt freshman Sam Brooks filled the role. Burak, a 2013 NCAA qualifier, readied himself as he rebounded from an undisclosed medical issue and considered the possibility of a red-shirt season.
"You always want to wrestle, but I know my coaches," Burak said. "They know what is best for me and what is best for the team. I knew they would make the best decision."
In a dual where the Hawkeyes hammered the Spartans, tallying a 43-2takedown edge. Burak didn't need a takedown, scoring a second-period reversal and riding McDiarmid for more than half the match (3:36).
Burak said he needed to create more angles and be faster on his feet, but was less tentative on top nearly getting nearfall points in the second.
"It was definitely not the match I wanted it to be," Burak said. "I wanted to score a lot more points. It's just how it worked out."
The rust gets shaken off during daily training and with experience, according to Iowa Coach Tom Brands, admitting it isn't easy either. Brands said the focus is do good things on the mat and score points.
"I think he did for the most part," Brands said. "I think he stayed where he was comfortable to win that match and sometimes you have to do that. We don't like it that close, but sometimes you have to do that."
The performance from Thomas Gilman was indicative of most of the dual. The third-ranked red-shirt freshman fresh off a Midlands title posted nine takedowns in a 20-7 major decision over Brenan Lyon.
He heard the announced crowd of 6,661 cheering for more and he delivered. Gilman liked the energy and high tempo of his match and the dual.
"One more. Alright, one more," Gilman said of hearing the fans' requests. "(Iowa associate head coach) Terry (Brands) is like give them what they want, so I gave them what they wanted."
The Hawkeyes rolled after that, receiving third-period falls from Tony Ramos (133) and Nick Moore (165). Defending NCAA champion Derek St. John (157) and Alex Meyer, wrestling in place of 174-pounder Mike Evans, who was ill, won by technical fall. Josh Dziewa added a major decision at 141 and Brody Grothus (149) followed with a 3-2 win over Nick Trimble, as Iowa wrestlers trailed for only three times in the entire dual.
Ethen Lofthouse (184) and heavyweight Bobby Telford both posted wins over the Spartans' only ranked wrestlers. Lofthouse, ranked third, used two penalty points for stalling and riding time advantage for a 4-2 win over No. 20 John Rizqallah. The fourth-ranked Telford beat No. 9 Mike McClure, 2-0.
Iowa was determined to be more offensive than Friday night's win over Purdue.
"It was something we were focused on," Ramos said. "It was good to get out and do it."
Iowa (8-1, 2-0 Big Ten) turns its attention to rival Oklahoma State. The Cowboys come to CHA next Friday and have won the last two meeting after tying in 2010 at Stillwater, Okla.
"We have to be ready to go," Brands said. "They're going to be coming in and they're coming off a strong finish at the Southern Scuffle. I know they feel good about how they finished. We have to be ready.
"They key for this and we key for this. Let it fly."
- See more at: http://thegazette.com/2014/01/04/burak-in-the-saddle-hawkeye-sophomore-returns-to-lineup/#sthash.RxDEZIyS.dpuf