Iowa won their Big Ten opening dual meet over Purdue on Saturday afternoon, as expected, and the margin of victory was lopsided, also as expected. But the story of the meet became who wasn't there rather than the Hawkeyes who were there and emerged victorious against the Boilermakers. We knew going into the dual that Michael Kemerer and Sam Stoll would again be out of action; as the dual got underway we discovered that three more starters -- Spencer Lee, Pat Lugo, and Jacob Warner -- were also not going to compete in this dual. The result was a lineup with five back-ups in action -- Perez Perez (125), Carter Happel (149), Myles Wilson (174), Mitch Bowman (197), and Aaron Costello (285). Those backups went 2-3 in competition today, with Happel and Bowman picking up wins, while Perez, Wilson, and Costello suffered Iowa's three losses. And according to Tom Brands' post-meet comments, we might be seeing this lineup for a bit longer, per Hawk Central:
“We’re going to rely on these guys for the near term,” Brands said. “That’s the lineup you’re going to see. We’ve gotta be making hay with that lineup … they’re on the bench and they’re supporting their teammates. Those guys are going to factor into our future.
This lineup was good enough to beat Purdue easily and it might be good enough to win most of the meets on Iowa's dual meet schedule this year, given the lack of top-tier opponents Iowa is slated to face. But it's not good enough to beat Penn State or Ohio State or Michigan or Oklahoma State and it's certainly not good enough to mount a legitimate challenge in the Big Ten or NCAA Tournaments. Brands continues to say that guys like Lee, Lugo, Kemerer, Stoll, etc. are "fine" or just a little "banged up" but it's hard not to be a little concerned to see so many absentees. Obviously the matches in March matter a hell of a lot more than the matches in November and December, so the success or failure of this season is going to be judged by what happens then, not a humdrum dual in November. It's just disappointing to see an Iowa lineup without so many of its top guys. But hopefully they really are fine and we'll see them on the mat in black and gold singlets in due time.
#3 IOWA 26, #14 PURDUE 9
|197||Mitch Bowman (I)||DEC (7-5)||#11 Christian Brunner (P)||IOWA 3-0|
|285||Jacob Aven (P)||DEC (3-1 OT)||Aaron Costello (I)||TIE 3-3|
|125||#15 Devin Shroder (P)||DEC (4-2)||Perez Perez (I)||PURDUE 6-3|
|133||#10 Austin DeSanto (I)||DEC (5-2)||#18 Ben Thornton (P)||TIE 6-6|
|141||#16 Max Murin (I)||DEC (5-0)||#19 Nate Limmex (P)||IOWA 9-6|
|149||Carter Happel (I)||DEC (2-0)||Parker Filius (P)||IOWA 12-6|
|157||#13 Kaleb Young (I)||FALL (3:37)||Griffin Parriott (P)||IOWA 18-6|
|165||#4 Alex Marinelli (I)||MAJ DEC (14-3)||Cole Wysocki (P)||IOWA 22-6|
|174||#13 Dylan Lydy (P)||DEC (7-3)||Myles Wilson (I)||IOWA 22-9|
|184||#11 Cash Wilcke (I)||MAJ DEC (12-4)||Max Lyon (P)||IOWA 26-9|
In the meantime, this dual was a pretty sleepy affair. Iowa won seven of ten weights and took control of the dual in the middleweights after losing two of the first three matches. Iowa won five straight matches after that, adding bonus points at 157 and 165 to blow the dual open. The dual started at 197, where Mitch Bowman was a surprise starter (such a surprise that it was apparently decided after introductions) and recorded an impressive upset win over 11th ranked Christian Brunner. Bowman got two nice takedowns in the first period and added a reversal in the second period; he didn't end the match well (he got ridden for the entire third period), but he did enough damage in the previous two periods to get the win. Not bad for wrestling up a weight against a possible All-America contender.
Iowa lost the next two matches, which was the biggest hiccup of the dual. Aaron Costello lost a dreary match at heavyweight in sudden victory after he exchanged escapes and a whole lot of collar-and-elbow tie-ups with Jacob Aven for seven minutes of regulation. He nearly finished the match-winning takedown in sudden victory, but Aven managed to roll through and get the takedown himself. At 125, Perez Perez got the first takedown of the match, but was unable to get any more offense going and fell 4-2.
Business picked up at 133 as Austin DeSanto finally got going after a very sluggish start (0-0 after the first period) and scored late to earn a 5-2 decision win. Like DeSanto, Murin struggled to get anything going early (his point came on a technical violation from his opponent), but an escape and a late takedown (plus a riding time point) added enough scoring for a 5-0 win. The sluggish starts continued at 149 where Carter Happel was unable to score in the opening period. He got an escape in the second and rode the bigger, stronger Filius for the entire third period to earn a riding time point and a 2-0 win.
Happel's win gave Iowa a 9-6 lead at the halfway point of the dual and they put things out of reach with the next two matches. After yet another scoreless first period (this was an unwelcome recurring theme in this dual), Kaleb Young went on top in the second against Parriott and after a few hard mat returns managed to catch him in a cow catcher and stick him to the mat almost 40 seconds into the second period. Alex Marinelli nearly followed suit with a first period pin at 165 (and I think he might have had one if the ref hadn't been slightly out of position), but had to settle for a 4-point nearfall; he showed off a variety of slick takedowns on his way to a comfortable major decision win. Those wins gave Iowa a 19-6 lead with two matches remaining and locked up the victory.
Myles Wilson gave #13 Dylan Lydy, a very solid opponent at 174, a very game effort and was only down 5-3 late in the third before conceding a final takedown to make it 7-3. He looked much better here than he did a week ago against Princeton, though he still struggled to score on offense. Finally, Cash Wilcke ended the night with a very solid 12-4 win over former Iowa prep Max Lyon at 184. Although this was yet another match with a slow start, Wilcke looked in control throughout the match and once the points started flowing, he kept the pressure on. His attacks looked confident and he did a good job of varying those attacks and finishing them, which were things he definitely struggled with at 197 last year. It was especially good to see him aggressively pursuing a major decision late in the match -- that's the sort of mindset we want to see from him.
A few of Wilcke's scores were also emblematic of another recurring theme from the meet -- Iowa scoring takedowns late in periods. As frustrating as it was to see so many scoreless (or nearly scoreless) first periods), it was heartening to see Iowa finishing periods strong and getting key points in the closing seconds. Scoring at the end of periods is key to winning close matches in duals or tournaments and often key to securing bonus points.
Comments and highlights following Iowa's win in the B1G opener: pic.twitter.com/hxZhUM9McI— Iowa Hawkeye Wrestling (@Hawks_Wrestling) November 24, 2018
All told, this dual was a good display of Iowa's depth, at least in terms of dual meet competition. Iowa was without five regular starters and wrestled a few guys above their normal weights -- and they still won the dual comfortably and got good performances out of several of those backups. That'll do in November, I suppose.
NEXT: Iowa faces Iowa State at home next Saturday, December 1 (2 PM CT).