IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Second chances are rare in athletics, which makes University of Iowa sophomore wrestler Brody Grothus determined to make the most of his at-large berth into the 2014 NCAA Championships.
After going 1-2 in the 149-pound weight class at the Big Ten Tournament and missing out on one of six automatic bids, Grothus was awarded an at-large berth by the NCAA selection committee based on his overall body of work.
"It was a big relief (to be selected)," said Grothus, a Davenport, Iowa native, who has posted a 23-10 record this season with four victories over ranked foes. "In sports, there aren't many opportunities when you get second chances, and I am going to make the most of this opportunity. I am going to go to Oklahoma City to help my team win a national title."
Grothus posted a fall against Indiana's Eric Roach in a pigtail match in his first postseason competition as a collegian. He followed it up with consecutive defeats to Michigan's eighth-ranked Eric Grajales (4-1) and Illinois' Caleb Ervin (3-1) to get bounced from the Big Ten Tournament.
"I felt too comfortable out there," said Grothus of his performance March 8-9 in Madison, Wis. "I told the coaches that I felt like I was in control, but on the scoreboard it was close. That's not in control. Being in control is widening the gap, being up 8-2, on top, driving the guy down, and keeping him flat."
Grothus enters the NCAAs as a No. 13 seed, where he will square off against Mike Morales of West Virginia in the opening round bout. Grothus has six wins against the 149-pound field this season, including victories over fifth-seeded Jason Tsirtsis of Northwestern, eighth-seeded David Habat of Edinboro, ninth-seeded Eric Grajales of Michigan, and 11th-seeded Josh Kindig of Oklahoma State.
"Seeds don't matter at this point," said UI head coach Tom Brands. "The thing that matters is our frame of mind because the matchups are on the brackets. All of our guys are looking forward to this and all of them, regardless of where they are in the bracket, like their chances.
"Our best wrestling needs to come out and all the good potential in these guys has to come out. This is the time it comes out. We've shown that we can have strong performances with these guys, now we have to do it consistently over three days."
Grothus feels good about his wrestling and is mentally prepared for the rigors of his first NCAA Championships.
"My mind is in a great place right now," said Grothus. "I am excited to go and kick some butt. I am not going down there just to get on the stand; I am going down there to win the tournament."
The opening session of the 2014 NCAA Championships begin Thursday at 11 a.m. (CT) inside Chesapeake Energy Arena. The first five sessions will be televised and streamed on ESPNU/ESPN3, while Saturday's finals will air on ESPN at 7 p.m.
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