It was overshadowed by a certain other Iowa sporting event on Saturday (I think there was a football game or something?), but Iowa wrestling wrapped up their first wrestle-off in several years on Saturday morning and the results give us at least a little insight into several weights.
|Friday||Justin Stickley||MAJ DEC (13-3)||Perez Perez|
|Saturday||Justin Stickley||TECH FALL (15-0)||Perez Perez|
The schedule for wrestle-offs had the Stickley-Perez winner on Friday facing "TBA" on Saturday, with "TBA" widely assumed. Alas, Lee did not wrestle after all (I didn't hear why), so we got a Stickley-Perez rematch instead. And after getting an easy 13-3 major decision on Friday night, Stickley crushed him even more impressively on Saturday morning, earning a 15-0 tech fall with some back points. Stickley is technically a true freshman, but he's kind of a gray area true freshman, like Nathan Burak was for Iowa. Stickley is two years removed from high school, but spent last year living (and working) in Iowa to earn in-state residency status and lower his tuition at Iowa. Assuming Lee does indeed redshirt this year, I think Stickley should get the nod at 125. Lee is likely to dominate that spot for the next four years, so this may be Stickley's best chance to start (unless he can bulk up and go at 133) and he seems to be a much better option than Perez.
|Saturday||Paul Glynn||DEC (4-3)||Phillip Laux|
Laux and Glynn are battling for the daunting honor of replacing Cory Clark, last year's NCAA champion at 133 lbs and a three-time NCAA finalist at that weight. Good luck, fellas. Glynn edged Laux on Saturday and I think that will give him the edge to start the first few dual meets of the season, but if he struggles, I think Laux will get a chance to stake his case for the starting job here.
|Thursday||Max Murin||DEC (10-4)||Aaron Meyer|
|Friday||Vince Turk||DEC (5-4)||Max Murin|
|Carter Happel||DEC (8-3)||Dan Murphy|
|Satrurday||Vince Turk||DEC (6-2)||Carter Happel|
This weight featured some of Iowas' low-key buzziest guys. They don't command headlines or attention like Lee, Jacob Warner, Michael Kemerer, or Alex Marinelli, but there's some definite quality here. Murin was overshadowed by Lee and Warner, two Top 10 overall talents, but he was a Top 40 overall talent himself and could easily develop into a very good wrestler for Iowa. Happel was a Top 20 overall recruit (per d1collegewrestling) and has plenty of potential. Turk was the lowest-rated recruit of the three (Top 70, per d1cw), but he's generated a fair amount of buzz among some Iowa insiders for his performances in the practice room the last few years before having his seasons cut short by injury. He dispatched Murin and Happel here, which ought to get him the nod as the 141 starter.
The meaningfulness of wrestle-offs can vary, but prior to this year's edition Brands indicated that he wanted to give these results some weight and that the winner in most cases would be the guy who gets the nod as the starter once the season starts. He also noted that he wanted to avoid the heavy rotation we've seen at some other contested weights in recent years and give guys a more consistent run; given that, I expect Turk to be the main guy here, at least for a while.
|Friday||Brandon Sorensen||TECH FALL (22-7)||Stephen Alvarez|
|Pat Lugo||DEC (3-2)||Jeren Glosser|
|Saturday||Brandon Sorensen||DEC (3-2)||Pat Lugo|
One of the problems with taking too much away from wrestle-offs is that they're between guys who face each other every single day in practice; guys tend to be very familiar with each other and what they like to do. So I'm not surprised or disappointed by Sorensen's very narrow win over Lugo in the wrestle-off final; it's also an improvement on their last match, a Lugo win in sudden victory at the Iowa-Edinboro dual last year. Lugo's own very narrow win over Jeren Glosser (who, unlike Brandon Sorensen, is not a three-time All American) is a little more eyebrow-raising (and not necessarily in a good way for Lugo, who we're counting on to be a high All America-caliber wrestler when he replaces Sorensen next year), but for now I'll chalk it up to wrestle-off weirdness.
|Friday||Keegan Shaw||MAJ DEC (16-4)||Tristan McDonald|
|Saturday||Michael Kemerer||TECH FALL (21-5)||Keegan Shaw|
BREAKING: Michael Kemerer is very, very good. I'd go as far as to say that he's Iowa's best wrestler now with Thomas Gilman and Cory Clark having graduated. It's going to be fun to see him maul dudes this year.
|Saturday||Logan McQuillen||DEC (9-8)||Jeremiah Moody|
Alex Marinelli sat out wrestle-offs to rest a banged-up knee; it doesn't sound too serious, and hopefully he's not limited when the season proper gets underway in a few weeks. In his absence, McQuillen and Moody had probably the most exciting match of the day in Saturday's wrestle-off finals. I'm sure the fans in attendance at least appreciated that, even if they didn't get a chance to see "The Bull" do his thing.
|Saturday||Joey Gunther||DEC (4-2 OT2)||Kaleb Young|
Marinelli is the expected starter at 165, which has resulted in last year's starter at 165, Joey Gunther, moving up to 174 to challenge Kaleb Young for a starting spot there. Gunther had a few solid results at 165 last year and is reportedly feeling better and stronger up at 174 and I'd assume this win gets him at least a few starts at 174. On the other hand, this feels like one of the wrestle-off weights where the result is the most tenuous in terms of determining a starter. Gunther beat Young, but the match wasn't much, apparently -- he won off by countering a Young shot in the second sudden victory overtime period and it didn't sound like there was a great deal of offense in the match prior to that. There's precedent for wrestle-off winners losing the starting gig if their opponent has a more attacking mindset and better offense (see: Tyler Clark and Tony Ramos at 133 several years ago). That said, it also didn't sound like Young was burning up the match with his offense, either. Still, it will be very interesting to watch the early results this season for both Young and Gunther (in duals and open tournaments). Gunther may have the early edge at the moment, but his starting spot seems far from locked in.
|Saturday||Mitch Bowman||FALL (6:30)||Myles Wilson|
The most interesting thing about this weight is who wasn't competing here, which was... almost everyone. There were six guys up at 197, but just two at this weight. My interpretation of that is that Pat Downey intends to wrestle at 184 when he becomes eligible to compete in the second semester. If Downey was angling for 197, it would make no sense for so many guys to be fighting up at 197 now and basically ceding 184. So, assuming Downey does indeed make it to Iowa with his eligibility intact, I'd guess we can pencil him into the lineup at 184 come January. In the meantime, it looks like Mitch Bowman will be filling the spot here for the first part of the season.
|Thursday||Cade Brownlee||DEC (6-4)||Sam Cook|
|Jacob Warner||TECH FALL (21-6)||Connor Corbin|
|Friday||Cash Wilcke||TECH FALL (20-5)||Cade Brownlee|
|Jacob Warner||FALL (3:37)||Steven Holloway|
|Saturday||Jacob Warner||DEC (4-3)||Cash Wilcke|
While Iowa fans didn't get to see one mega-recruit at wrestle-offs (Lee), they did get to see another, as Warner made his Iowa debut with a pretty impressive performance, rolling through Connor Corbin and Steven Holloway in his first two matches before edging Cash Wilcke on an escape point. Despite the win over Wilcke, I expect Warner to keep his redshirt for 2017-18 and for Wilcke to be the main guy for Iowa here. He had a nice run at the NCAA Tournament last year (finishing in the Round of 12 and just missing out on All-America honors) and ought to be improved with another year of experience. That said, 184 still seems like his best weight and it would be nice to see what he can do there; perhaps next year he can move back down there and Warner can take over at 197.
|Saturday||Sam Stoll||DEC (2-0)||Aaron Costello|
Good news: Sam Stoll's rehab from a second torn ACL seems to be going well and he appears to be in line to start the season for Iowa. Bad news: this wasn't much of a match; Stoll won 2-0 on an escape and a stalling point on Costello. Hopefully Stoll's lack of finished offense here (i.e., actual takedowns) is more a sign of rust than an indication of limitations he's dealing with due to the multiple injuries he's suffered in his career to date.