Once again, Iowa wrestling fell behind early in a dual meet. Once again they fought back to win it late. Rinse and repeat. In front of a record crowd of 6754 for wrestling at the Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC), Iowa stormed back to defeat Rutgers 23-15 and stay undefeated on the season (6-0 overall, 2-0 Big Ten). Iowa won six matches in the dual, while Rutgers won four; Iowa also topped Rutgers in bonus points with five (from a pin and a technical fall) to three (from a technical fall and a major decision). The dual started at 125 and Rutgers won the first three bouts of the evening, with bonus points at 125 and 133, to go up 12-0 on the Hawkeyes. But Iowa won six of the remaining seven matches in the dual, grabbing a technical fall at 157 and a pin at 285 to secure the victory.
#7 IOWA 23, #16 RUTGERS 15
|125||#2 Nick Suriano||TECH FALL (23-5)||Justin Stickley||RUTGERS 5-0|
|133||#13 Scott DelVecchio||MAJ DEC (12-4)||Paul Glynn||RUTGERS 9-0|
|141||Michael Van Brill||DEC (3-2)||Carter Happel||RUTGERS 12-0|
|149||#2 Brandon Sorensen||DEC (4-1)||Eleazar DeLuca||RUTGERS 12-3|
|157||#3 Michael Kemerer||TECH FALL (24-8)||Brett Donner||RUTGERS 12-8|
|165||#13 Alex Marinelli||DEC (6-4)||#9 Richie Lewis||RUTGERS 12-11|
|174||Joey Gunther||DEC (5-4)||Joseph Grello||IOWA 14-12|
|184||#9 Nicholas Gravina||DEC (4-0)||Mitch Bowman||RUTGERS 15-14|
|197||#8 Cash Wilcke||DEC (8-3)||Kevin Mulligan||IOWA 17-15|
|285||#6 Sam Stoll||FALL (2:41)||Razohnn Gross||IOWA 23-15|
As expected, the dual got off to a rough start for Iowa with losses in their first three matches. Justin Stickley more than had his hands full against #2 Nick Suriano at 125 and Suriano, who transferred from Penn State in the offseason, worked a takedown clinic on Stickley before working in some back points on his way to an easy technical fall. Paul Glynn got the start at 133 for Iowa and he didn't fare much better, going down early against Rutgers' DelVecchio and not mounting much of a comeback. DelVecchio got a late takedown to secure the 12-4 major decision. Iowa had another new starter at 141, with Carter Happel starting his first dual for Iowa in place of Vince Turk. Unfortunately, we saw a familiar result at 141: a loss, as Happel fell 3-2 to Michael Van Brill. Happel put forth a pretty solid effort, though, and had some decent attacks; he just wasn't able to finish them. His performance here was good enough to warrant a few more starts to see if he can improve upon it.
Things started turning around for Iowa at 149, where Brandon Sorensen ground out another functional 4-1 decision win. Yet again it took him until the third period to get much going on offense. Sorensen is very good at winning these ugly, low-scoring matches, but if you wrestle them all the time, you're bound to get caught eventually. The hoped-for match of the night at 157 between two Top 10 opponents got scuttled when Rutgers opted to send Richie Lewis (#9 at 157) up to 165 (although apparently he's had some trouble making weight this year so that move may have been less a choice and more of a necessity), leaving poor Brett Donner (2-4 on the season) to face Kemerer. Kemdawg got to his offense early and often, posting a 12-5 first period via six takedowns and cruising to an easy 25-8 technical fall. That cut the Rutgers lead to 12-8 at intermission.
Lewis moving up to 165 made that the de facto match of the night, as you had the much-hyped official debut for Marinelli taking place against a quality opponent in Lewis. So how'd The Bull look in his first match in an Iowa singlet? Not too bad. He fell behind 2-0 early, but fought back with a takedown in the second period to briefly take the lead. A Lewis escape tied the match at 4-4 in the third and it headed to sudden victory, where Marinelli came out on top in a bit of a scramble situation to get the winning takedown. Marinelli maintained a good tempo throughout the match and put a lot of pressure on Lewis; he was very active on his feet and in on several shots, though Lewis did a good job of wriggling free most of the time. He was sporting a pretty giant knee/leg brace, which was alarming, but his mobility didn't seem too compromised. All in all, a solid debut for a guy we've been waiting to see for quite a while.
165 and 174 ended up being the most pivotal matches in the dual, as they were swing bouts that both featured close wins for Iowa. Reverse one of those matches and we're really sweating Stoll's match at heavyweight; reverse both of them and Iowa loses the dual. 174 featured plenty of controversy and stoppages for reviews and discussion. Gunther went down 3-0 after a first period takedown and second period escape from Joseph Grello, but fought back with a takedown in the second, and then an escape and another takedown in the third. Gunther had one takedown called off after video review in the second that it looked like should have counted (it was a flash takedown, but he appeared to be behind Grello with Grello having a hand on the mat), although Gunther would have been dinged for locked hands a few seconds later if it had counted. There was even more controversy on the eventual match-winning takedown, as replay clearly showed that both Grello and Gunther had gone out of bounds a few seconds before Gunther slipped back inside and got the winning takedown; the action should have been restarted in the center of the mat after both guys went out of bounds.There was a ref looking right at Gunther and Grello as they went out of bounds as well; I still can't believe he missed it. Unfortunately for Rutgers, they had used all of their coach's challenges earlier in the dual and couldn't challenge this (obviously wrong) call and so it stood and Gunther ended up winning. EDIT: Not an obviously wrong call after all, as Gunther's butt was apparently still within the proverbial in-bounds cylinder of the wrestling mat; let that be a lesson, folks -- don't forget to exercise your glutes!
That win gave Iowa a 14-12 lead in the dual, but it was short-lived as #9 Nicholas Gravina put together a workmanlike 4-0 win over Mitch Bowman at 184. After a first period takedown and ride-out from Gravina, there wasn't much action at all in the second or third periods. Cash Wilcke put Iowa back on top at 197 with a solid 8-3 win over Kevin Mulligan. Wilcke started fast with two first period takedowns, which was good to see; his offense has sometimes gone AWOL, but he was active and engaged throughout this match. The dual wrapped up with what's becoming a tradition this year: a Sam Stoll pin. Stoll picked up his fifth pin of the season (in six matches) -- and his fourth first period pin, decking Razohnn Gross in 2:42. Stoll used a shuck to get behind Gross, then took him down and flipped him to his back with surprising ease; the pin was academic at that point. Unlike last week's dual, Iowa didn't need a Stoll pin to win this dual, but it was certainly appreciated and a nice cherry on top of an overall pretty good performance from Iowa. After a dreary performance against Illinois from almost everyone on the Iowa side, there was a lot more fire and attacking impetus from most guys this week.
NEXT: Iowa's east coast road trip continues with a visit to Maryland (3-3) on Sunday (12 PM CT, BTN Plus).