Lofthouse looks for strong finish to tough senior season

Healthy now, Lofthouse aims for third All-American finish

Published: February 6 2014 | 9:11 pm - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 3:19 am in

IOWA CITY – Ethen Lofthouse’s senior season hasn’t been the smoothest, but he still has one more opportunity to cement his legacy.

An injury forced him to miss some time and a preseason mistake caused him some headaches, but he will try to cap his career with his third All-American finish as a Hawkeye.

Lofthouse will be one of six seniors honored during the home finale Sunday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Third-ranked Iowa (12-2, 5-1 Big Ten) hosts No. 11 Michigan (9-3, 5-1), starting at 2 p.m.

Lofthouse, ranked fourth at 184 pounds, is 17-2 this season. He is expected to face the Wolverines’ No. 20 Domenic Abounader (11-5).

It will be his second match since injuring a knee Jan. 4 at home against Michigan State.

“It’s a little disappointing from the injury point of view,” Lofthouse said during the Hawkeyes’ weekly media session at the Dan Gable Wrestling Complex. “I have a lot to look forward to. It’s pretty crazy how time flies. I’m looking forward to my last time in Carver. I’m excited. Give the fans something to remember me by.”

He leaves a long resume for Iowa fans to memorize. Lofthouse is a two-time All-American, placing fifth last year at 184 and seventh in 2012 at 174. He has finished third at the last two Big Ten Championships, qualifying for the NCAA Championships his first three seasons.

Lofthouse seemed to be his strongest in the postseason.

“Ethen had to battle through a mediocre, I don’t like a .500-record, season and then he would do well at the end of the year,” Iowa Coach Tom Brands said. “That’s important.”

Wrestling in front of Iowa fans at CHA will be a fond memory for many years. There is nothing like it for Lofthouse. He said there were many the last four seasons, but a 3-1 win over Ohio State’s Nick Heflin as a freshman ranks among the best.

“It came down to the end and I ended up squeaking it out,” Lofthouse said. “I remember that one pretty well.”

Lofthouse, from Avon, Utah, has been focused on preparation and hasn’t contemplated what it will be like to compete in front of the Hawkeye faithful, wearing a black-and-gold singlet for the final time in Iowa City. He said it will likely hit him when he sees his family, the coaches and fans.

“It hasn’t really set in,” said Lofthouse, who wants Iowa fans to associate him with toughness and a competitor that gave his best effort. “(Tony) Ramos, (Derek) St. John and I came in as freshmen and it seems like yesterday. Now, we’re all going to be wrestling together for our last (home) match against Michigan.”

This is not the end of the road by any means. More than a month of the season remains and he has accomplishments to obtain.

“My goal is to become a national champ,” Lofthouse said. “This is my last time to get there and I’m excited. I feel good training and I’m ready to make the jump.”

Iowa fans will big farewell to Ramos and St. John as well. They have been two fan favorites, who have made major contributions to the Hawkeye lineup, along with Lofthouse.

Ramos is 108-14 in his career, including an unblemished 33-0 mark at CHA. He has ignited the crowd on numerous occasions, including a win over Oklahoma State’s Jordan Oliver and two memorable pins over rival Penn State. He is also a two-time All-American, finishing second at 133 last year.

Derek St. John is looking to become Iowa’s 18th four-time All-American and 40th to reach 100 career wins. He reached two straight national finals, winning the 157-pound NCAA title last year. St. John is 97-13, going 30-1 at home.

Brands motioned to a practice room wall that displays Big Ten and NCAA champions and All-Americans. He mentioned their hunger to finish their careers on top.

“This is a big event for them,” Brands said. “It shows their diligence of not just being in the lineup one year or after one event. They’re pretty much household names the last three and a half years. Now let’s finish strong.”

They aren’t the only ones who will be recognized Sunday. Seniors Joe DuCharme, Tomas Lira and Nick Trizzino are seniors, who are bringing their Hawkeye career to a close. They have been vital in providing depth and filling spots in the lineup.

Lira (197/285) has the most starts, competing in 12 duals and has a 50-25 overall mark, which includes open tournaments. Tizzino has wrestled in three duals, posting a 17-7 mark throughout his career.

“They’ve been through it,” Brands said. “A lot of water under the dam for them. A lot of good memories from my point of view. I’m kind of smiling right now at all of them. These things aren’t things you get emotional about so much, because you feel good that they are in a good place to go forward for the rest of their life as young motivated men that will aspire.”

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