Clark Adjusts to life as a Hawk
Andy Hamilton ? Iowa City Press-Citizen ? December 3, 2009
Tyler Clark took on more than a new set of coaches, teammates and wardrobe colors when he left Iowa State this summer and transferred to Iowa.
He took on a new collection of roles, going from a big talking little guy with the Cyclones at this time last year to a training partner, redshirt and possible informant for the Hawkeyes this week as they gear up for Sunday's showdown in Ames.
"I'm happy with my decision," Clark said. "I haven't looked back since, and I think that's going to pay off. I'm buying into the team, the program, the tradition here, and I'm really liking it a lot."
Clark was a two-time NCAA qualifier at 125 pounds and winner of 43 matches during two seasons at Iowa State. He was front and center during the buildup to last year's dual against the Hawkeyes after some of his brash comments in the Iowa State Daily made their way back to the Iowa wrestling room.
"I'm going to be in a stadium full of boos, but it's going to be fun because I'm going to go out in front of their home crowd and tear someone's head off," Clark said then.
"It's going to be good to show everybody we're the best dual team, we are the best tournament team in the country."
Clark dropped a 4-2 decision to Iowa's Charlie Falck and the Hawkeyes won the dual meet last December on their way to an undefeated run to their second straight NCAA title.
"No one has really said a lot about (those quotes)," Clark said. "They said it's a good attitude to have, it's the attitude you need to have. It came out the wrong way. It is the attitude I had, but it came out the wrong way, and the guys I talked to know that."
Clark crossed the state wrestling battle lines to join the Hawkeyes weeks after Iowa State coach Cael Sanderson departed for Penn State in April
"It's a change for him, I know that," Iowa coach Tom Brands said. "It's different for him. I think he understood very quickly coming in here that he's going to be held accountable and not necessarily from the coaching staff. He's going to be held accountable with the philosophy from his teammates."
Clark didn't transfer to Iowa penalty-free. He was granted a conditional release from the Cyclones, forcing him to burn his redshirt this year. He said during the summer that he thought the year away from full-time competition "might be a blessing in disguise" and "could be a big improvement year."
"It's been going good so far," said Clark, who finished second at 133 pounds last month at the Kaufman-Brand Open in Omaha, his first tournament with the Hawkeyes. "I love the coaching staff -- (Tom and Terry) Brands, (Mike) Zadick, (Doug) Schwab, they're all sort of lightweights, so having them to work out with is pretty nice. I never really got to workout a lot with the coaches at Iowa State, they were all bigger guys.
"I'm learning a lot, I like all the guys on the team, it's a great bunch of guys, really tight-knit."
Clark has a unique perspective on one of the most intriguing matchups in Sunday's dual after training with Iowa State's Andrew Long and Iowa's Matt McDonough, a pair of three-time Iowa state high school champions who will tangle for the first time in college at 125.
"I think it's going to be a good battle on their feet," Clark said. "I think that's what Andrew is better at out of the three areas. Matt doesn't really have a weak point, he's solid everywhere. I think Andrew probably wants to keep it on his feet if he can, but I don't think Matt McDonough really cares what happens. He's just going to go out and score points."
McDonough defeated Clark 5-1 in Iowa's wrestle-offs. The freshman said Tuesday that he hadn't yet gone to Clark for any inside information on Long.
"(McDonough) knows him pretty well," Clark said. "We all grew up wrestling each other. We know (Long's) tendencies, his characteristics, and you want to be aware of what they're going to do. Coach Brands talked about it, you want to be aware, but you also want to be aware of your attacks. I'm pretty sure Matt's focused on what he wants to do. He knows what Andrew is going to do, but he's more focused on going out and scoring points and getting takedowns."
Reach Andy Hamilton at 339-7368 or firstname.lastname@example.org.