MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- After two straight national championships, the Minnesota wrestling team knows what they're up against.
"When you're on top, everybody's against you," said senior Jared Lawrence, one of two individual national champions returning to the Gophers this season.
After two straight national championships, Lawrence and the rest of the Gophers also have the confidence that they can get the job done.
"The whole country's against us this year and we'll take 'em all down," he said.
Lawrence has good reason to be optimistic.
The Gophers have six All Americans and two national champions -- Lawrence at 149 pounds and Luke Becker at 157 -- returning in pursuit of the team's three-peat.
The last thing coach J Robinson wants to talk about, however, is repeating.
"We have to worry about this year," Robinson said. "As soon as you go and you start worrying about defending, then you end up getting beat."
This year, the Gophers have holes to fill at 125, 141, 174 and 197, and newcomers like Bobbe Lowe (125), Tommy Owen (141), Matt Nagel (165) and Nate Baker (165) have high expectations to meet.
"Those guys have to come in and be All Americans this year," Robinson said. "It's no longer just something that you make the team."
The Gophers won't have to wait long to find out if they have what it takes. The top-ranked Gophers have a dual meet against powerhouse Iowa, ranked No. 3, Friday at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Robinson, always working to lift wrestling's profile in Minnesota, dubbed it the "Showdown." The meet was scheduled in conjunction with the Gophers-Hawkeyes football game on Saturday, and Robinson hopes the momentum and publicity it generates will carry through the rest of the season.
"It doesn't do any good to have it the last dual meet of the season and the season's over. Fans will be talking about it for a week," Robinson said. "This way, they'll be talking about it, win or lose, all year. That's what you want."
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