Feb. 22, 2013
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The collegiate postseason is a new experience for University of Iowa wrestler Nathan Burak. The true freshman holds down the 197-pound weight class for the Hawkeyes as they battle Cornell on Friday in a quarterfinal of the NWCA National Duals in Minneapolis.
"I'm excited about the postseason because that means nationals are coming, and that's what you are training for the whole year," Burak said. "Competition-wise, it's a high level, but that isn't a lot different from some of the other meets we have had so far."
Burak takes a 14-10 record into the dual against Big Red sophomore Jace Bennett, who is 24-13 with 11 falls.
"I have to make sure I do what I know," Burak said. "I have to stay on offense, keep attacking, and doing the things I do in the wrestling room."
Burak is on a two-match winning streak, with a 3-1 decision against Caleb Kolb of Nebraska, followed by a 17-5 major decision against Warren Bosch of Edinboro. Against ranked opponents this season, Burak is 2-6, a deceiving mark that includes 3-2 losses to No. 5 Blake Rosholt of Oklahoma State and No. 9 Andrew Campolattano of Ohio State, and 3-1 losses to No. 12 Scott Schiller of Minnesota and No. 15 Mario Gonzalez of Illinois.
If the Hawkeyes keep winning in Minneapolis, he could have an opportunity to avenge the setbacks to Schiller and Rosholt."It has been a little frustrating (losing close matches to ranked opponents), but it helps me understand what I need to work on in the wrestling room," Burak said. "If I work on those things a lot, then I'll be ready for the postseason."
"I have to make sure I do what I know. I have to stay on offense, keep attacking, and doing the things I do in the wrestling room."
A three-time state qualifier for Coronado High School in Colorado Springs, Colo., Burak won the state championship as a senior in 2011. He spent the following year preparing at the Olympic Training Center before enrolling at the UI.
After placing third in his first collegiate tournament -- the Lindenwood Open -- Burak had his first opportunity to compete in front of the home crowd inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
"I have adapted and improved a lot to wrestling in front of big crowds," Burak said.
His first match at home was a 9-8 loss to Alex Coolidge of Cornell College; his most recent match in Iowa City -- a 12-point win -- was witnessed by 7,080. Burak has been the Hawkeye starter for 16 consecutive duals.
"Wrestling in front of a lot of people is something I wanted to do, but during your first time it's a different experience," he said. "Being in front of a lot of fans and a huge crowd was different, but that is the heritage at Iowa."
The NWCA National Duals are held in Williams Arena on the University of Minnesota campus. Semifinals will take place Saturday, Feb. 23, at 1 p.m. (CT). The third-place and finals matches are scheduled for 7 p.m.
"I'm ready," Burak said. "The goal now is to qualify for nationals and become an All-American or a national champ."