At the end of the day, Iowa emerged triumphant over Iowa State for the 15th straight time in dual meet competition -- but the path to that 15th consecutive win was anything but straightforward or easy. It was a dual that featured five upsets, three lead changes, a pin and an injury default (in back to back matches, no less!), several last-second scoring moves that won matches, not one but two thrilling (and somewhat surprising) season debuts, and a heart-stopping finish in the dual's final bout. From a neutral standpoint, Iowa's 19-18 win over Iowa State had about everything you could hope for. From an Iowa standpoint, it was alternately thrilling and frustrating (sometimes both in the same match) and ultimately a cause for relief. Iowa won again, if only by the thinnest of margins -- in fact, this was the first one-point win in the history of the Iowa-ISU series.
Most of Iowa's wins in their current dominant run have been lopsided; they won 35-6 last year in a dual where Iowa State's only points came from a forfeit by Iowa. They've rarely won more than one or two matches in a dual over the last decade. Not on Saturday. Iowa State won five matches and scored 18 points, the most they've managed in this rivalry in a single dual since 2009, when they suffered a narrow 18-16 loss. By comparison, Iowa State won six matches (one of those via forfeit) and scored 21 total points combined in the last three duals against Iowa before this year.
There was uncertainty heading into this dual, largely down to what sort of lineup Iowa would field. Would they trot out the backup-heavy B-team that took the mat versus Purdue last week? Or would they restore more regular starters to the fold? As it turned out, Iowa fielded virtually their strongest possible lineup (174 was the only exception, as Mitch Bowman, cutting down from 184, seems to be the long-term option at that weight this season now that Michael Kemerer has been ruled out for the season). Worryingly, that full-strength lineup didn't look particularly strong in this dual -- Iowa found themselves on the wrong side of four of the five aforementioned upsets in this dual and they rarely finished matches strong. There aren't better options lurking on the bench, but the guys in the lineup need to be much, much sharper.
#3 IOWA 19, IOWA STATE 18
|141||Ian Parker||DEC (5-4)||#16 Max Murin||ISU 3-0|
|149||#12 Jarrett Degen||DEC (7-4 OT)||#11 Pat Lugo||ISU 6-0|
|157||#13 Kaleb Young||DEC (8-3)||Chase Straw||ISU 6-3|
|165||#4 Alex Marinelli||FALL (4:45)||Brady Jennings||IOWA 9-6|
|174||Marcus Coleman||INJ DEF||Myles Wilson||ISU 12-9|
|184||Sam Colbray||DEC (7-6)||#11 Cash Wilcke||ISU 15-9|
|197||#12 Jacob Warner||DEC (5-4)||#5 Willie Miklus||ISU 15-12|
|285||#1 Sam Stoll||DEC (5-1)||Gannon Gremmel||TIE 15-15|
|125||#1 Spencer Lee||MAJ DEC (13-4)||Alex Mackall||IOWA 19-15|
|133||#14 Austin Gomez||DEC (14-9)||#10 Austin DeSanto||IOWA 19-18|
The dual started at 141, with one of the seeming toss-up bouts of the day, between Max Murin and Ian Parker. Murin started strong and had a 4-1 lead into the third period, but an escape and controversial penalty for hands to the face made it 4-3. Murin dove in for a takedown late in the third, but wasn't able to finish it -- while Parker was able to step over Murin and counter into a takedown of his own with seconds remaining. That sequence was more or less repeated in the closing stretches of the matches at 149 and 184, creating some very unpleasant deja vu for Iowa fans. Pat Lugo got off to a fast start with a takedown at 149, but his other attempts to take down the long-limbed Jarrett Degen were stymied, before Degen was able to get a late score in the third to tie the bout and send it to overtime. Lugo seemed to run out of gas in the extra sessions, failing to escape in the first tiebreaker and then giving up an escape and a takedown in the second tiebreaker. The loss dropped Lugo's record to 1-3 this season; he definitely hasn't gotten off to a flying start in his first year as a Hawkeye.
Iowa finally got on the board at 157 lbs, with a workmanlike 8-3 decision for Kaleb Young over Chase Straw. This was a solid, controlling performance from Young, but it would have been nice to see him up the pressure and get a few more takedowns for a major decision; points were precious in this dual and an extra point from Young would have been a relief. Iowa took their first lead of the dual at 165 lbs, where Alex Marinelli showed the dominating form you want to see out of a team leader -- he manhandled Brady Jennings from beginning to end in this bout, racking up a 12-1 lead in the first thanks to a handful of takedowns and some nearfall points. Marinelli finally finished the job with an emphatic pin in the second period, giving Iowa a 9-6 lead.
Unfortunately, Iowa gave that lead right back to Iowa State at 174 lbs, courtesy of an injury default from Myles Wilson. The injury default was doubly unfortunate because Wilson had gotten off to a very strong start, notching two takedowns and looking good in getting out to a 4-3 lead on Marcus Coleman. Wilson appeared to tweak his knee at some point, though, and was unable to continue in the match. Hopefully whatever injury he sustained isn't too serious.
After intermission, Iowa State managed to extend their lead to 15-9 with an upset by Sam Colbray over Cash Wilcke at 184 lbs. Wilcke looked fairly good here, at least on offense, as he was able to record a few takedowns on Colbray. Unfortunately, he had a bit of trouble with Colbray's quickness and conceded a few takedowns as well. Clinging to a 6-5 lead, Wilcke dove in for a takedown or stalemate to run out the clock, only to fall victim to a takedown out of a scramble that was almost identical to the one that cost Murin at 141 lbs.
Just as things looked grim for the winning streak, though, Iowa roared back to take control of the dual with wins in their next three bouts. 197 featured an upset that actually favored Iowa, as Jacob Warner took out #5 Willie Miklus. A critical win sealed in the final seconds against a top-5 ranked wrestler from Iowa State? Yeah, that's not a bad way for Warner to make his official Iowa debut. Warner started well with a takedown of Miklus and over a minute of riding time in the first period, although he appeared to tweak his ankle at some point. After a mostly uneventful second period, Warner took a 3-1 lead into the third period. But Miklus got an escape and a takedown with just over a minute to go to go up 4-3. With time running out, Warner got a reversal to go up 5-4 -- and then had to narrowly avoid getting reversed himself at the whistle. It was close (very very close), but after a video review, Warner prevailed 5-4 in a must-win match for Iowa.
Warner's late win got the crowd at Carver-Hawkeye Arena energized, but the appearance of Sam Stoll at heavyweight made them erupt. Iowa's lone senior made his season debut in dramatic fashion and the story behind that debut was frankly better than the match itself.
MUST WATCH: Tom Brands explains what happened right before Sam Stoll took the mat against Iowa State. pic.twitter.com/bsfLnyltpt— Beau (@bowman_beau) December 1, 2018
Stoll got an early takedown and rode Gannon Gremmel hard, but wasn't able to turn him. The second and third periods didn't feature much action and Stoll was able to cruise to a 5-1 win, which tied the dual at 15-15.
There was some doubt about whether Spencer Lee would wrestle or not in this dual, but he did take the mat after Stoll to try and give Iowa the lead (and the win) in the dual. I said in my preview that Lee's presence in the dual might be the lynch pin to the dual, but I never imagined it like this. Lee started fast with a takedown almost a minute in and then went to work on the mat, with a pair of 4-point nearfalls off his patented tilts and a penalty point for stalling from Mackall. But Lee wasn't able to finish the bout in the first and that nearly proved costly. Lee gave up an escape to Mackall in the second, then gave up a takedown (his first of the season) and got dinged for stalling himself in the third. He looked visibly gassed, especially in the third. Rumor has it that he missed the Purdue dual last week due to illness and if he's been dealing with the flu or some other ailment, that might explain his diminished stamina. Hopefully he's back up to peak form soon. Still, he was able to hang on for a major decision, which gave Iowa a 4-point lead... and that extra point was vital in the dual.
It all came down to 133 and the match of the dual between Austin DeSanto and Austin Gomez. With a 4-point lead in the team score, Iowa just needed DeSanto to avoid giving up bonus points in a loss in order to win the dual. What ensued was one of the wildest matches of the day, with both guys going back and forth and trading scores in a high-tempo duel. It was tied 3-3 after the first, 5-5 after the second, and 8-8 early in the third. Then Gomez went for broke with a big move and took DeSanto down -- and nearly to his back. A pin was the one thing DeSanto couldn't afford to concede and his battle to stay off his back was incredibly impressive. He managed that, but the takedown + 4-point nearfall gave Gomez a 14-8 lead with time running out. DeSanto got an escape, but ran out of time to do anything more than that. But the result was a regular decision loss and a slender one-point win for Iowa. Whew.
Credit to Iowa State -- they're definitely making big strides under Dresser & Co. and they're a much improved squad from the group that Iowa has rolled over for the past few seasons. That said, there aren't worldbeaters on this Cyclone team either -- there's not a single guy that suited up for ISU today who projects as a sure thing (or even likely) All American, outside of Miklus at 197. Our hopes for Iowa this season have been predicated on guys like DeSanto, Murin, Lugo, and Wilcke making the podium and exceeding preseason expectations. After the way they looked against Iowa State on Saturday, that doesn't look likely.
The good news is that there's still a lot of time for them to improve over the course of the season -- let's hope that they do. Iowa as a whole needs to wrestle much smarter, much harder, and much hungrier than they did on Saturday, especially at the ends of periods and ends of matches. But as ugly as it was, a win is still a win and 15 straight over Iowa State is still pretty damn satisfying.
Have another look at Saturday's wrestling action inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena! Hope to see you again this Saturday, December 8, as Lehigh visits the Hawkeyes at 7:30 p.m. pic.twitter.com/h5TmPqPHVj— Iowa Hawkeye Wrestling (@Hawks_Wrestling) December 2, 2018
NEXT: Iowa welcomes Lehigh next Saturday night (7:30 PM, BTN Plus/Flowrestling).