UI's Keddy breaking out of slump
Hawks hit the road for 2 duals
Andy Hamilton ? Iowa City Press-Citizen ? January 22, 2010
The clock inside Iowa's wrestling room was ticking against 10 p.m. Saturday when Phil Keddy dropped to the mat and clutched his left leg.
Nearly an hour earlier, the Iowa senior all but locked up another victory for the top-ranked Hawkeyes with a critical win against Oklahoma State at 184 pounds, but now Keddy's calf was locked up.
He had just been put through the ringer. A seven-minute grind that produced a 3-2 win against Clayton Foster was followed by a series of sprints and then a cycle of 10 one-minute blasts on a stationary bike with a one-minute rest in between each.
"There are some things we have to do that would make a billy goat puke," Iowa coach Tom Brands said on his post-meet radio show Saturday night while his twin brother, Terry, was putting Keddy through the bike workout. "That's what makes Keddy thrive. (But) he's got a long way to go. He's at about 87.5-percent capacity right now."
But Keddy and those associated with the Hawkeyes are confident that number is climbing going into tonight's Big Ten dual opener at Michigan. They're confident he's shaking free from the worst slump he's endured since his first year in the Iowa lineup and getting closer to full throttle.
"I feel like now I'm definitely making progress," said Keddy, who is 14-5 and ranked eighth nationally. "It was kind of hard for me to realize everything wasn't going to be back instantly, and there was a lot of frustration with that and I wasn't really handling that very well."
Keddy entered the season ranked second in the country. He established himself as a national title threat during the previous two seasons, placing sixth as a sophomore and fourth as a junior. Keddy compiled a 62-16 record during those two years. All of his losses came against opponents who placed in the top five at the NCAA Championships and all but one was decided by three points or less.
But an unspecified injury cost Keddy five months of hard training time during the offseason and his conditioning level deteriorated. It was clear during the season's first two months that something was unplugged with the two-time All-American. He wasn't blowing away opponents with the power and explosiveness he showed in the past. He was no longer a virtual automatic against wrestlers ranked below him. He wasn't even a shoo-in to be in the match until the clock ran out.
Keddy's loss to Iowa State's Jerome Ward in December marked the first time since his freshman year that he lost to a wrestler who wasn't an All-American. He lost a pair of 7-1 decisions to American's Michael Cannon and Missouri's Max Askren at the Midlands Championships.
"I think that he thought when he started to feel good it was just going to be a flip of the switch or a snap of the finger," Tom Brands said. "But it's a process with progress. That's what I kept telling him. It's a process, it's not, 'OK, I feel good, I'm going to be up to where I was.' And he has made progress."
The arrow has gradually been moving up in January, although the frustration bubbled to the surface earlier this month at the National Duals. During a tiebreaker loss to top-ranked Kirk Smith of Boise State, Keddy committed a cardinal sin in the Brands competition manual by putting his head on the mat with 13 seconds remaining, essentially surrendering a 3-1 defeat. He got called out by his coach.
"There was definitely reason to (Brands to criticize)," Keddy said. "I've watched the film and he was definitely right. There were 13 seconds left on the clock and I stopped wrestling. There's no excuse for that."
Keddy's over-aggressiveness cost him twice the following day in an overtime loss against Ward. But Brands pointed Keddy in the direction of the positive signs he noticed during the match and Saturday night's win against Foster was another step ahead.
"There's nothing but progress from here on out," Brands said. "I like how he's progressing, and I know he's feeling better about himself. But now he's got to go out and perform like he's feeling better about himself."
Keddy said he "has nothing to complain about" physically. He said he's regaining his strength and stamina.
"I feel like I can go out there and wrestle the way I want to wrestle, which is a hard pace the whole time and hustling in all positions," he said. "That's the way I like to wrestle and that's the way I'm good. It's starting to come back and when you feel that way it's a lot easier to wrestle in general."
After the bike workout Saturday night, Keddy told Terry Brands that he needs more training. More workouts. More conditioning.
More than a billy goat can handle.
Reach Andy Hamilton at 339-7368 or email@example.com.