Gophers, Hawkeyes set for marquee matchup

The schools enter the weekend’s meet as the top teams in the country.

Senior Logan Storley wrestles against Illinois at the Sports Pavilion on Jan. 18.

Daily File Photo, Liam James Doyle

Senior Logan Storley wrestles against Illinois at the Sports Pavilion on Jan. 18.

Danny Chen

When a sporting event needs to relocate to a larger venue because its original facility won’t fit enough fans, the quality of competition is likely top-notch.

That’ll be the case on Friday, when No. 1 Minnesota faces No. 2 Iowa in a marquee matchup at Williams Arena instead of the usual Sports Pavilion.

The Sports Pavilion can seat only 5,840 fans, compared with 14,625 at Williams Arena.

Head assistant coach Brandon Eggum said with each program’s history, fans know that it’s worth the drive to come watch.

“Anytime there is a meet between Minnesota and Iowa, fans know that both programs produce [wrestlers] that wrestle hard and [come] out wanting to compete,” Eggum said. “That kind of intensity really makes for a great dual.”

Redshirt senior Scott Schiller said the two programs actually wrestle in a very similar style, making it a competitive meet each time.

The similarity between the teams is another reason fans are drawn to this particular meet.

“Both Minnesota and Iowa, we wrestle [using] very hard, aggressive styles that attack a lot,” Schiller said. “This usually creates exciting matches between the two [teams].”

In the past four years, the teams have split the series 2-2.

In last year’s matchup, the Gophers won 19-15.

The point difference could have favored Minnesota by three more points had redshirt senior Logan Storley won his match.

In his match at 174 pounds, No. 5 Storley went head to head with No. 6 Mike Evans.

The close match eventually went into a tiebreaker, and Storley wound up losing the dual 2-1.

Storley said he expects this season’s matchup to go the same way — it’ll be a tough battle.

“Every time we wrestle, it’s a close matchup,” Storley said. “We don’t like each other very much, and it’s going to be a high-intensity match. I’m sure there will be a little extra shove and push.”

Eggum said the location of the two teams is what sets the Minnesota-Iowa matchup apart from meets against Penn State or Oklahoma State.

“The proximity of the two states [allows] the fans to follow closely not just our athletes but theirs as well,” Eggum said. “We [recruit] guys from Iowa, and they get guys from Minnesota. As far as just knowledge, it creates a bigger interest for the meet because of that.”

With the type of hype this matchup is garnering, Eggum said he just hopes his team can stay focused.

“Our biggest challenge between now and Friday is to make sure that our guys can remain focused on just having a good week on controlling their weight and controlling their technique,” Eggum said. “With the hype of the dual, I hope our guys can focus on the things that they can do and not on just the match itself.”