Remember the last time Iowa wrestled a dual meet at home? You're forgiven if you don't -- it was over a month ago (December 1st) and it was a truly underwhelming and uninspiring performance against Illinois, when Iowa eked out with an 18-17 win thanks to a Sam Stoll pin in the final match. Things were a little bit different on Friday night against Michigan State. It ended the same way -- with another Sam Stoll pin -- but this time that pin was simply the cherry on top of a sundae of dominance, not the vitally needed winning result. To be sure, Illinois is a much stronger team than Michigan State, who boasts all of one ranked wrestler. But where Iowa's performance against the Illini was largely sludgy and subdued, they were full of fire and energy against the Spartans -- and bonus points. So, so many bonus points.
There were bonus points awarded in all ten matches Friday night, including seven pins! The first five matches of the night ended in pins (four for Iowa, one for MSU), which is not something I can recall seeing happen before except maybe in the Iowa City Duals when Iowa is facing a Division III or JUCO team. The pins slowed down after intermission -- Alex Marinelli had to settle for a 23-5 technical fall at 165 and Joey Gunther and Mitch Bowman could "only" muster major decisions at 174 and 184, but Cash Wilcke and Sam Stoll got the pin train rolling again to end the night with falls. In all, Iowa recorded pins in six of their nine wins Friday night. (Nice.)
The spark for Iowa was obvious: hello, Spencer Lee. Granted, starting off your dual with Spencer Lee is a bit like starting your fireworks show with an M80, but hey: sometimes you just want to light it all on fire and dance in the ashes, you know? Lee's fast start fired up the crowd and seemed to put a little more pep in the step of his teammates as well -- in almost every match you saw Iowa guys looking for turns and pinning situations. Sure, Michigan State was a pretty ideal opponent for that sort of pin-hunting -- they're not very good -- and who knows if this more aggressive offensive approach will carry over into matches against stronger opposition. But it certainly can't hurt -- and it was incredibly fun to watch tonight.
|125||Spencer Lee||FALL (0:46)||Rayvon Foley||IOWA 6-0|
|133||Paul Glynn||FALL (6:13)||Matt Santos||IOWA 12-0|
|141||#18 Javier Gasca||FALL (4:04)||Carter Happel||IOWA 12-6|
|149||#2 Brandon Sorensen||FALL (3:45)||Jwan Britton||IOWA 18-6|
|157||#2 Michael Kemerer||FALL (4:21)||Jake Tucker||IOWA 24-6|
|165||#14 Alex Marinelli||TECH FALL (23-5)||Austin Hiles||IOWA 29-6|
|174||Joey Gunther||MAJ DEC (15-5)||Logan Ritchie||IOWA 33-6|
|184||Mitch Bowman||MAJ DEC (9-0)||Shwan Shadaia||IOWA 37-6|
|197||#8 Cash Wilcke||FALL (5:54)||Nick May||IOWA 43-6|
|285||Sam Stoll||FALL (2:03)||Matt Lloyd||IOWA 49-6|
As noted, Lee got Iowa going with a pin in under a minute -- which ended up being the fastest of the evening -- but the offense didn't let up from there. Paul Glynn got the nod at 133 and while he didn't start very well -- he gave up a quick takedown and two nearfall points to go down 4-0 -- he roared back with eight straight points before he was able to horse Santos to his back and get a pin of his own. That was one of the most dramatic pins of the night and it capped off an impressive comeback for Glynn; he started badly, but he kept fighting and it paid off in a big way.
The only down note of the evening for Iowa was at 141, where Carter Happel wrestled a match that was a bit of the opposite of Glynn's at 133. Happel got an early takedown on Gasca, MSU's only ranked wrestler, but Gasca battled back with an escape and takedown of his own, and then caught Happel in a scramble during a reversal sequence in the second and locked up a cradle for the win. Sorensen stopped Sparty's momentum cold at 149, though, opening up a 4-1 lead in the first period after a pair of quality takedowns and then wrenching Britton to his back for a pin early in the second. Kemerer made it five pins in five matches before intermission with another second period fall at 157 lbs. He'd worked a takedown clinic on Tucker in the first period before giving up a takedown to Tucker in the second period; that just seemed to make him mad. He got Tucker on his back following a reversal and it was lights out after that.
The pin train was stopped after intermission, though not for lack of trying from Alex Marinelli at 165 lbs. He kept the offense going all match against Austin Hiles and came a whisker away from doing so at the end of the match, but he had to settle for a lopsided 23-5 technical fall instead. The bonus point streak seemed like it might end at 174, but Joey Gunther and his trucker-ready mustache made sure that didn't happen by exploding for several takedowns in the third period to secure a 15-5 major decision. Mitch Bowman used three takedowns, a mountain of riding time, and a few stalling penalties on his very unenergetic MSU opponent to secure a 9-0 major decision and keep the bonus point streak going. Said streak again seemed to be in jeopardy at 197 lbs -- it was tied just 2-2 heading into the third period. Then Wilcke got a lightning-quick escape to start the period and followed up with a takedown and whipped May to his back to lock up a dramatic third-period pin. Sam Stoll closed things out with a much easier pin, ragdolling his opponent around for a bit, then wrenching him to the mat and methodically wrenching him over to get the pin.
All in all, a fun night of action for Iowa wrestling. Spencer Lee made an entertaining and emphatic -- if short -- debut for Iowa fans and Iowa wrestlers looked energized and aggressive pretty much all night long. Against an overmatched opponent, you want to see your team dominate and that's precisely what Iowa did in this one. Nicely done, Hawkeyes.
NEXT: Iowa returns to action against #3 Oklahoma State on Sunday, January 14, 2018 (3 PM CT, BTN).