Perry hot to hit the mat
Ryan Young - The Daily Iowan
Issue date: 2/21/08 Section: Sports
PrintEmail Article Tools Page 1 of 2 next > Top-ranked Iowa wrestler Mark Perry said Wednesday he's been practicing at 100 percent since returning from rehab 10 days ago.

The 165-pound defending national champion still wears a bulky pad over his surgically repaired right knee, but other than minor tweaks and aches, the senior said he has regained full range of motion.

He jogged without gingerness during the Hawkeyes' Wednesday evening practice, stepping evenly with both his left and right leg around the perimeter of the Dan Gable Wrestling Complex.

Switching between his warm-ups, he did a flawless cartwheel without hesitation.

Yet despite the Big Ten championships just one week away, Iowa wrestling coach Tom Brands is saying Perry will miss Saturday's meet against No. 11 Illinois. But the wrestler is meet-ready if needed.

"I talked to Perry a little bit, talked to trainers a little bit, and he could go if he had to," Brands said, noting that the Hawkeyes are still four days from the conference dual. "We're still taking it day-to-day.

"He's been on the mat all last week and all this week."

During Wednesday's relaxed practice, Perry sparred against redshirt freshman Aaron Janssen - the tender-footed 165-pound grappler who originally filled in for the Hawkeye star.

Perry showed no apparent signs of lingering pain, dropping to his knees explosively each time he attempted a low leg attack on Janssen. In between maneuvers, he bobbed on his toes as he waited to execute the next drill.

Wrestling from the ground was no different. Efficiently taking his warm-up partner down to the mat, Perry ardently jockeyed Janssen in several positions - evidence of significant progress since having arthroscopic surgery a month ago.

"When the surgery initially happened, I was a little concerned about what I'd be limited to," said Perry, who said he had never had surgery before. "But my conditioning feels, by far, the best it has all year, and that's something I'm really excited about."

This season's recurring absences from competition have been a plague for Perry.

Before getting injured in the semifinals of the NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals, he was forced to sit out during the Iowa/Iowa State dual in early December because of a flagrant misconduct ruling by the NCAA.

But Perry pointed out that the Hawkeyes have gone a perfect 13-0 without him in the lineup. Meanwhile, his substitutes at 165 pounds - Janssen and Jake Kerr - have gone 0-10.

Missing his final home meets last weekend when Iowa hosted Indiana and Michigan, Perry noted his substantially long layoff has raised his passion for wrestling.

"This is probably the most excited I've been since coming in my freshman year," he said. "It's not what I wanted, but I think I've taken it as good as I can. I've done things right with my rehab, my training, and I'm more energized and excited about wrestling than I've been in a while."

Its an excitement his teammates have felt in the practice room.

"Knowing Mark Perry, I know he'll be ready to go mentally and physically," 197-pound sophomore Chad Beatty said. "He just has that will to win."

E-mail DI reporter Ryan Young at:

? 2008 Daily Iowan

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