WHAT: 2018 Midlands Championships
WHEN: Sunday, December 30, 2018
START TIME: Session III -- 12 PM CT; Session IV (Finals) -- 7 PM CT
WHERE: Sears Centre (Hoffman Estates, IL)
ONLINE: BTN Plus | Flowrestling
RADIO: Hawkeye All-Access; AM 800 near Iowa City or iHeart Radio (online)
TWITTER: @IowaWRLive, @IAWrestle, @MidlandsChamps, @CodyGoodwin, @Trackwrestling, @Flowrestling
Iowa wrestling returned to action after a three-week hiatus at the 2018 Midland Championships in Hoffman Estates, IL on Saturday and the results were generally good. After one day of action, Iowa has 8 semifinalists alive in 7 weights in the championship bracket (they have two wrestlers still going in the 133 lb bracket, Austin DeSanto and Paul Glynn) and overall 13 of the 21 wrestlers Iowa brought to Midlands are still wrestling today. Iowa also picked up tons of bonus points in their wins yesterday, which helped propel them to a commanding lead in the team title race here:
1. 114.5 -- Iowa
2. 76 -- UNI
3. 69 -- Wisconsin
4. 68.5 -- Northwestern
5. 62 -- Princeton
That's the good news. The bad news is that Iowa's upper weights have shown some troubling signs, especially in the quarterfinals last night. Mitch Bowman won his first two matches down at his new weight of 174 lbs, but lost his next two matches to find himself eliminated from the tournament. Cash Wilcke is in the semifinals (which is obviously good), but he hasn't shown much in the way of offensive firepower, which is concerning, given the lack of top-tier competition that he's faced. Sam Stoll won his first two matches, one via pin and one via 3-1 decision, but he recorded no takedowns in that 3-1 win (his three points came via an escape, a riding time point, and a penalty point) and he's since medically forfeited out of the tournament. Brands said the medical forfeit was just "precautionary," and maybe that's so, but it does leave us a bit nervous about Stoll's status for the rest of the year. Iowa's other talented heavyweight, true freshman Anthony Cassioppi, stumbled in his first big test of the season as well, going down 11-3 in the quarterfinals to Campbell's Jere Heino, who's redshirting this season. That result doesn't impact Iowa at Midlands (Cassioppi isn't one of Iowa's point-scorers here) and it doesn't change Iowa's outlook this season (he was always going to redshirt this year), but it does suggest that he's still got work to do to develop into a top-tier heavyweight.
And none of that even hits upon the biggest red flag among Iowa's upper weights, 197er Jacob Warner. He lost in the quarterfinals to South Dakota State's Tanner Sloan, but honestly, just saying that he "lost in the quarterfinals" rather undersells it. Sloan absolutely demolished Warner in that match, beating him 18-3. Warner had a 3-2 lead after the first period, but Sloan reversed him in the second and then tilted Warner into a series of nearfalls that saw a close match turn into a rout. This was a stunning performance -- by Sloan and Warner. When last we saw Warner, he was gutting out a last-second win on a bad ankle over Iowa State's Willie Miklus, a former All-American; now he's getting shellshocked by a true freshman. That loss came on the heels of two less-than-explosive wins as well; Warner did not really look the part of a Top 10, potential All-American threat at 197 lbs at all yesterday. Hopefully Warner can rebound in the consolation rounds today because we need to see much, much more from him in order for Iowa to reach its potential as a team.
But Iowa's lower weights really did take care of business on Day 1 at the Midlands. Spencer Lee did a lot of Spencer Lee things: after winning his first match with a first period pin, he won his next two matches via technical fall (17-0 and 18-0). Paul Glynn was able to grind his way to four straight wins at 133 lbs (1-0, 2-0, 3-1, 4-0) and become a surprise semifinalist, though he was aided by an injury default from Nathan Tomasello in his portion of the bracket. Austin DeSanto has torn through his competition, recording three bonus point wins (a 13-3 major decision, a 22-4 technical fall, and a first period pin) so far.
Iowa placed two in the quarterfinals at 141, but only Max Murin was able to make it to the semifinals with a 6-1 win over Northwestern's Alexander McKenna. He recorded a pin and a 6-4 decision win in his other two bouts. Vince Turk suffered a narrow 5-4 loss to Northwestern's Yahya Thomas in the quarterfinals, but had two major decision wins before that. He needs to keep up that strong showing today with a good effort in the consolation rounds.
Outside of Lee and DeSanto, Iowa's two most impressive wrestlers on Saturday were probably Pat Lugo at 149 and Kaleb Young at 157. Lugo won four matches, all via bonus points, to make the semifinals and earn a rematch with #1-ranked Matthew Kolodzik from Princeton. Lugo's last two wins came via injury default, but he was leading comfortably in both matches. Before that he recorded wins via pin and 15-0 technical fall. Lugo's had a stuttering start to the season, but he's looked much better at Midlands so far, displaying confidence and consistent aggression and overwhelming his opponents. Young bonused his way into the semifinals with three technical falls (17-0, 16-0, and 15-0) as well as a pin early in the second period. Young hasn't faced the stiffest competition thus far, but he's looked utterly dominant against those weaker foes, which is precisely what you want to see. Young looks like a guy who's getting more and more comfortable at 157 lbs -- and looking better all the time, too.
Alex Marinelli is Iowa's other semifinalist, grinding his way to the semis with three wins. Two of his wins included bonus points -- a pin and 12-2 major decision -- and his other win was one of the most exciting of the tournament, as he battled a very feisty Jonathan Viruet from Brown for 7+ minutes before finally recording an 8-6 win in sudden victory. Viruet was a leech on top and rode Marinelli hard throughout the match. He was also dangerous on the mat with reversals, so even though he posed little threat from neutral, he still made things very difficult for Marinelli. Still, The Bull got the win in the end and remains on pace for a potential showdown with Wisconsin's Evan Wick in the finals (if he can get by Arizona State's Jake Shields in the semis).
Speaking of, here are the semifinal match-ups involving Iowa (#s are seeds here, not national rankings):
125: #1 Spencer Lee vs #4 Pat Glory (Princeton)
133: Paul Glynn vs #4 Noah Gonser (Campbell)
133: #2 Austin DeSanto vs #3 Dylan Duncan (Illinois)
141: #2 Max Murin vs UN Michael Blockhus (UNI - unattached)
149: #5 Pat Lugo vs #1 Matthew Kolodzik (Princeton)
157: #2 Kaleb Young vs UN Zach Hartman (Bucknell)
165: #2 Alex Marinelli vs #3 Jake Shields (Arizona State)
184: #2 Cash Wilcke vs #6 Mason Reinhardt (Wisconsin)
And here are the consolation round match-ups involving Iowa wrestlers:
141: #4 Vince Turk vs #3 Tristan Moran (Wisconsin)
157: #12 Jeren Glosser vs #7 Luke Weiland (Army)
197: #2 Jacob Warner vs Beau Breske (Wisconsin - unattached)
285: Aaron Costello vs #6 Matt Stencel (Central Michigan)
285: #10 Tony Cassioppi vs Andrew Gunning (North Carolina)
I'll post results and updates in the comments, but feel free to join in.
The usual rules apply.