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Iowa teams return home to face stiff tests

Iowa’s three NCAA Division I wrestling teams will host home meets for the first time in the new year – and the visitors bring plenty of pedigree.

It has been at least six weeks since top-ranked Iowa, No. 3 Iowa State and No. 23 Northern Iowa have been the home team, although the Panthers hosted the National Duals on Jan. 10-11.

Iowa State ends the longest wait of the three – two months – tonight when it faces No. 10 Oklahoma.

Oklahoma is 14-0 – the best start in program history – and holds a victory this season over No. 14 Oklahoma State. Iowa State has won six in a row against the Sooners.

“The last time we were at home – I don’t remember,” Iowa State coach Cael Sanderson said.

Iowa, which owns a 29-meet winning streak, hosts its first meet in six weeks at 7 tonight against No. 13 Wisconsin.

Northern Iowa wrestles Oklahoma State at 7 Sunday night. It will be the second meet of the day for the Cowboys, who wrestle at Iowa State at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Iowa – which is coming off a 20-13 victory last weekend at Oklahoma State – also faces No. 15 Illinois at 5 p.m. Sunday.

“I think we have to build our leads and wrestle like we’re capable,” Iowa coach Tom Brands said. “We have the firepower. That firepower has to come to the surface.”

Tonight’s meet has a highlight bout at 141 pounds. Iowa’s Alex Tsirtsis is scheduled to meet Wisconsin’s Zach Tanelli. In a meeting last month, Tanelli handed Tsirtsis his only loss of the year.

Northern Iowa’s lineup has changed since its last home meet Dec. 11. As many as six different faces could be in the Panthers’ lineup Sunday.

“We need to get healthy right now,” Northern Iowa coach Brad Penrith said. “We’re not 100 percent.”

On other mats, the Iowa Conference meets start at 9 a.m. today in Storm Lake and 10:30 in Dubuque. Defending national champion Wartburg takes a 127-meet winning streak against Iowa Conference teams into the Dubuque meet.

By DAN McCOOL  (Original Here)

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