Iowa 20, Oklahoma State 12: Rustling Up a Victory

By RossWB on January 15, 2018 at 8:00 am

Iowa faced their biggest test of the season on Sunday with a visit from longtime rivals Oklahoma State, ranked #3 in the country. Consider that test passed. In front of a crowd of over 13,000 fans, Iowa won six of ten matches and picked up bonus points from a slightly unexpected source to pad their winning margin and record a 20-12 win over the Cowboys. 

The dual began with a hotly-anticipated 125 lb match, where Spencer Lee jumped out to a big lead on #6 ranked Nick Piccininni and then hung on for a win to get Iowa on the board first. As expected, Oklahoma State took the next two matches -- two of their best wrestlers are at those weights, while Iowa continues to have question marks -- although Iowa only gave up bonus points at 133 lbs. Iowa took control in the middle of the meet, with an emphatic tech fall win by Brandon Sorensen at 149, followed by a decision win by Michael Kemerer at 157 to give Iowa an 11-6 lead heading into intermission. 

After intermission, Iowa got a pivotal win from Alex Marinelli at 165 in one of the key swing bouts in the dual, knocking off Chandler Rogers via decision. Iowa and Oklahoma State split the next two matches, with Oklahoma State grabbing a decision at 174 after a takedown in the final seconds and Iowa grabbing a decision win at 184 thanks to an inspired performance from Mitch Bowman, particularly in the third period, where he got the decisive takedown and rode out Keegan Moore. That match gave Iowa a comfortable 17-9 lead in the dual and made it very difficult for Oklahoma State to win without getting serious bonus points in the final two matches. Cash Wilcke suffered his first loss of the season against Preston Weigel, but Sam Stoll ended the dual on a winning note by grinding out a 6-4 decision win in the second sudden victory period in a match that took over 15 minutes to compete thanks to multiple coach's challenges, video reviews, and overtime sessions. But in the end Iowa prevailed and came away with a solid win over a dangerous opponent and a bitter rival. We'll take a result like that any day of the week and twice on Sundays. 

125 #9 Spencer Lee DEC (10-5) #6 Nick Piccininni IOWA 3-0
133 #4 Kaid Brock MAJ DEC (15-5) Phillip Laux OK ST 4-3
141 #5 Dean Heil DEC (4-0) Vince Turk OK ST 7-3
149 #2 Brandon Sorensen TECH FALL (23-8) #14 Boo Lewallan IOWA 8-7
157 #2 Michael Kemerer DEC (9-2) Jonce Blaylock IOWA 11-6*
165 #11 Alex Marinelli DEC (5-2) #8 Chandler Rogers IOWA 14-6
174 #14 Jacobe Smith DEC (3-1) Joey Gunther IOWA 14-9
184 Mitch Bowman DEC (10-6) #19 Keegan Moore IOWA 17-9
197 #3 Preston Weigel DEC (6-0) #5 Cash Wilcke IOWA 17-12
285 #3 Sam Stoll DEC (6-4 SV2) #10 Derek White IOWA 20-12

Oklahoma State was penalized a team point for "failure to control the mat area."

A few more thoughts: 

  • Much like a week ago against Michigan State, Spencer Lee started out strong, getting a nice takedown around 30 seconds into the first period and then putting a hard ride on Piccininni, including picking up four nearfall points off a tilt. With that early 6-0 lead it seemed like he was going to cruise to a bonus point win. And then he just seemed to... run out of gas. He spent the third period (and part of the second) mostly just hanging on and waiting for time to run out. He had banked enough points that he was never in danger of losing, per se, but it was still far from an impressive finish from a wrestler the caliber of Lee. That said, he's also a true freshman making his second-ever start, his first in a heated rivalry environment in front of 13K fans... some nerves or an unexpected adrenaline crash would not exactly be too surprising. Brands and Lee also alluded to some issues getting accustomed to the one-hour weigh-ins and nutrition; hopefully they can get those things sorted out soon. 
  • Laux got the nod at 133, but was taken down at will over and over by Brock in a less-than-inspiring performance. Brock is very, very good and a legit title contender at 133, but there still weren't any positives to take from this outing from Laux. I'd bet we see Paul Glynn here the next time Iowa takes the mat. Unfortunately, I'm not sure it makes that much difference who starts for Iowa at this weight... 
  • There was also a lineup shakeup at 141 as Vince Turk got the start here instead of Topher Carton Carter Happel. The good news is that Turk, unlike Laux at 133, was successful in damage limitation -- he also wrestled a top-five opponent and potential NCAA champion in Dean Heil but only lost 4-0. He did a good job of tying up Heil and stymieing him repeatedly (although it has to be said that Heil is not exactly Mr. Aggressive on offense). The bad news is that he never came particularly close to scoring points of his own on Heil, save for a shot in the waning seconds of the match. 
  • Brandon Sorensen provided exactly the sort of performance that you'd hope to see from a senior leader, dominating his opponent and getting momentum in the dual firmly back on Iowa's side. Sorensen has been a consistent winner throughout his Iowa career -- he's 114-13 over the last four seasons -- but he's often struggled to get bonus points like many of Iowa's best wrestlers over the year. In a tight dual like this one bonus points can be critical and Sorensen came through in a big way, working a relentless pace on Lewallen. He jumped out to a 6-1 lead in the first period behind a pair of takedowns and a quick 2-point nearfall. I didn't think bonus points looked likely when he gave up a takedown in the second to cut his lead to 6-4, but he responded with five points off an escape, takedown, and two penalty points to stretch his lead to 11-4 after two periods. At that point a major decision looked well within his grasp, but to his credit Sorensen wasn't satisfied with that -- he felt Lewallen breaking and responded by cranking up the pressure and tempo even higher, rattling off five takedowns in rapid succession in the third period to help secure a technical fall win. That was a hugely impressive performance by Sorensen and it came at a big moment for Iowa in the dual. Well done to Iowa's senior leader. 
  • Of any Iowa middleweight, Michael Kemerer was the one I had pegged for a dominating bonus point performance, but it didn't quite happen here. Kemerer started strong with two takedowns and a penalty point to take a 5-1 lead in the first period, but he wasn't able to keep that high-scoring pace going, only getting a single takedown in the final two periods. It was mostly just a weird match, though: Kemerer was dominating but couldn't always turn that dominance into points; he was thisclose to recording nearfalls or picking up additional takedowns, but wasn't able to complete them. Add in the fact that Blaylock spent most of the match seeming more interested in trying to rake Kemerer's eyes and you just have an odd match. Kemerer will be fine. 
  • At 165 Marinelli and Rogers wrestled the first scoreless first period of the dual, although the lack of scoring didn't mean a lack of action -- there were some good scraps in that first period... they just didn't result in takedowns. Rogers got a quick escape in the second period and managed to get in deep on a shot, but Marinelli was able to counter it into a takedown for himself and two points. Another Rogers escape tied the match heading into the third. Marinelli got a quick escape to go up 3-2 in the third and while Rogers was overall a bit more aggressive in the third, Marinelli got the decisive (and clinching) takedown in the final seconds. It wasn't a blowaway performance for Marinelli, but against a tough opponent he stayed cool and got the job done -- that's a good result. 
  • I predicted would be a low-scoring match that would come down to a third period takedown; unfortunately, I pegged Gunther as the man to get that takedown. Welp. As predicted, it was a low-scoring match -- the first period was scoreless and the only points through the first 6:45 of the match were matching escapes for Gunther and Smith; then late in the third Smith managed to get to Gunther's legs and finished with little time remaining. Game over. There wasn't much action in this match and Gunther needs to do a better job of attacking from neutral to win matches like this. 
  • Fortunately, things picked up for Iowa at where Mitch Bowman provided the most pleasant surprise of the dual for Iowa. For the second straight match my pre-bout prediction was wrong -- but this time I'm glad to be wrong. Bowman got an early takedown (somewhat controversially) to take a quick lead, then added to that later in the first to take a 4-2 lead. The second period was all Moore -- he had a reversal and a takedown and managed to tie the match up at 6-6 heading into the third. But Bowman finished strong -- the third period was all him, as he got an escape and then scored a takedown and put on a strong ride for the rest of the match. That earned him a riding time point and a final score of 10-6. That match gave Iowa some much-needed breathing room in the dual; kudos to Bowman for delivering for Iowa in a big spot. He's been on the cusp of breaking into the rankings for a little while now and I think this week he'll finally make it there, which is a nice reward for a guy who's just kept grinding and steadily worked his way up the ladder at Iowa. 
  • At Wilcke's match with Preston Weigel had the same result as their match at the Iowa-OSU dual a year ago: a 6-0 Weigel win. He got there a little bit differently this time, though; last year he used a smothering ride and a tilt to get his points; this time he used a pair of takedowns and a smothering ride to get his points. Wilcke was never particularly close to scoring on Weigel, which was disappointing. 
  • Sam Stoll prevailed in a marathon match at heavyweight, picking up the winning takedown seconds into the second sudden victory period. The regulation portion of the match featured more video reviews (3) than takedowns (1). Stoll got both of the takedowns in the match; White's points came from three escapes and a penalty point on Stoll for locked hands. Stoll was the aggressor throughout the match and came closer to scoring more shots; that said, he still struggles to get offense going from neutral against tougher opponents. It would be nice if he had at least one go-to shots that he could rely on to get points. 

Some video highlights for your enjoyment: 

And a few great photos as well:

 NEXT: Iowa returns to action next Sunday at #2 Ohio State (2:30 PM CT, BTN).

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