Iowa's climactic dual meet of the season, a much-hyped showdown with longtime nemesis Oklahoma State, ended in lopsided defeat. Iowa lost seven of ten matches and got routed 27-12 by the Cowboys. Iowa got beat in all positions on Sunday and seemed ill-prepared for a dual that both sides had been talking big about all week. Oklahoma State delivered on their end; Iowa... did not.
The dual meet started poorly -- and shockingly -- with Spencer Lee getting cradled and pinned by Nick Piccinnini late in the second period to give Oklahoma State an early 6-0 lead. Daton Fix won a cagey Top-3 showdown with Austin DeSanto at 133 and Kaid Brock edged out Max Murin at 141 to give the 'Pokes a 12-0 lead after three weights. Murin's takedown late in the third against Brock were Iowa's only offensive points in the first three bouts.
The middle of the dual went better for Iowa (it could have hardly have gone much worse), highlighted by Pat Lugo picking up his biggest win of the season in a 7-4 upset of #6 Kaden Gfeller. Lugo was active from the jump and it paid off for him in Iowa's first win of the day. Kaleb Young made it two in a row with a workmanlike 9-5 decision at 157 lbs, while Alex Marinelli brought the best fireworks of the day for the Iowa side with a dominant first period pin over Jonce Blaylock. That emphatic win tied the team score at 12-12 through six bouts and gave us a glimmer of hope that Iowa could stage a comeback from the disastrous start to the dual.
That hope was quickly snuffed out when Chandler Rogers answered Marinelli's pin at 165 with one of his own at 174, sticking Mitch Bowman in the third period. That win restored Okie State's lead in the dual (18-12), which they would never relinquish the rest of the way. Cash Wilcke got taken down in the second and third periods to lose 6-3 at 184, while Jacob Warner got ridden hard in the first, second, and third periods to lose 6-3 at 197. That victory gave Oklahoma State a 24-12 lead and locked up the dual meet victory, but Derek White added the cherry on top of the Cowboys with a 3-1 win at heavyweight.
After tying the dual at 12-12, Iowa lost the next four straight matches, failing to score an offensive point in any of them. Like I said: thud.
#2 Oklahoma State 27, #3 Iowa 12
|125||#4 Nick Piccinnini||FALL (4:55)||#2 Spencer Lee||OK ST 6-0|
|133||#2 Daton Fix||DEC (2-0)||#3 Austin DeSanto||OK ST 9-0|
|141||#12 Kaid Brock||DEC (8-6)||#16 Max Murin||OK ST 12-0|
|149||#12 Pat Lugo||DEC (7-4)||#6 Kaden Gfeller||OK ST 12-3|
|157||#7 Kaleb Young||DEC (9-5)||Wyatt Sheets||OK ST 12-6|
|165||#2 Alex Marinelli||FALL (2:44)||Jonce Blaylock||TIE 12-12|
|174||Chandler Rogers||FALL (5:30)||Mitch Bowman||OK ST 18-12|
|184||#9 Jacobe Smith||DEC (6-3)||#12 Cash Wilcke||OK ST 21-12|
|197||#6 Preston Weigel||DEC (5-3)||#4 Jacob Warner||OK ST 24-12|
|285||#2 Derek White||DEC (3-1)||#8 Sam Stoll||OK ST 27-12|
A few thoughts:
Is there something wrong with Spencer Lee? Have high-level opponents figured him out? Both? I don't have an answer to those questions, unfortunately. Hopefully Lee and the Iowa coaches do and they can get him sorted out for the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments. Right now he looks like a far cry from the phenom who steamrolled the field at the NCAA Tournament last march. That said, he was in on some shots in the first period against Piccinnini, but just couldn't quite finish. In the second he rode Piccinnini hard for over half of the period, before Piccinnini was able to slip free. On the pin, Lee went to the splits, a defensive move which has served him well in the past, but he put his head near his knee and Piccinnini capitalized. Still, this is another high-end opponent who's given Lee some serious trouble this year; he's going to need to regain his mojo if he wants to add any more trophies to his collection over the next month.
DeSanto dropped a 2-0 decision to Fix at 133, giving up an escape to Fix in the second period and getting ridden out in the third. DeSanto was fairly close to getting a reversal near the end of the third period, but clearly there's work to be done on getting out from bottom against Fix and figuring out how to score from neutral. The good news is that he's seen Fix once now, so hopefully he can make some adjustments for their next encounter.
Iowa's losing streak continued at 141 lbs, where Max Murin dropped an 8-6 decision to Kaid Brock. Murin got a takedown late in the third period and made an effort to get nearfall points in the final seconds of the bout, but ultimately this match was one to forget for Murin, who struggled to defend against Brock's slick offense from neutral.
One of the few highlights for Iowa came at 149, where Pat Lugo got a very good win over Kaden Gfeller. Lugo has been coming on of late and he put it together here with a very solid performance against Gfeller. Lugo was active from the opening whistle and got a takedown on Gfeller in each period. He did have an issue giving up reversals -- Gfeller reversed him twice -- but beyond that this was a good performance from Lugo against a good opponent.
Kaleb Young made it two wins in a row for Iowa with a 9-5 win over Wyatt Sheets at 157; Young was in control throughout the match, but any thought of a possible major decision went out the window after he got reversed in the third period. Young's first takedown came easily, but he wasn't able to string together more takedowns early in the match, unfortunately.
Jonce Blaylock has wrestled the entire season until today at 157, going 16-7. He looked overpowered and outmatched by Marinelli, which is exactly what you'd want to see in a matchup like this. Marinelli took him down with ease, whipped around for nearfall points, and finished things off with a pin in the final seconds of the third period. No complaints whatsoever about Marinelli's performance in this one; he did exactly what you'd want him to do.
Unfortunately, that was the end of the good times for Iowa wrestling in this dual. Mitch Bowman was outclassed on his feet by Chandler Rogers, who got multiple takedowns while building a lead through the first few periods. Bowman was getting close to a reversal in the third before Rogers was able to re-position and pin Bowman. Rogers is a solid opponent, but he was undersized for this bout (reportedly weighing in between 165 and 174) and Bowman was unable to use that to his advantage.
After a 0-0 first period (I know you're surprised), Cash Wilcke went down 3-0 early in the second period after giving up an escape and a quick takedown. He gave up another takedown in the third period to ice the victory for Smith; this was yet another match where Wilcke was frustratingly inactive on his feet.
Jacob Warner made it three losses in a row for Iowa's upper weights with a 6-3 decision loss at 197 lbs. Warner gave up a takedown in the first and got ridden for over a minute before finally getting an escape. Unfortunately, he went back down to start the second and was unable to get an escape, getting ridden for the full two minutes, though he did earn a few points via a stall call and a locked hands penalty call against Weigel. That gave him a 3-2 lead entering the third, where Weigel took bottom. Given the massive riding time advantage Weigel had at that point (over three minutes), the match was effectively tied, meaning Warner would need to either ride him out to force overtime or cut him loose and try to get a takedown on his feet. Warner opted for the former strategy, but it failed when Weigel was able to reverse him and then ride him out for the final minute. I think there was some logic to doing what Warner did -- he's good on top and Weigel did seem to be getting worn down as the match progressed -- but it's a risky approach and it clearly backfired here.
- The dual ended with a whimper as Derek White got a takedown in the final seconds of the first period and an escape in the second to open up a 3-0 lead that proved insurmountable. Stoll (somewhat surprisingly) chose bottom in the third, but did manage to get an escape to make it 3-1; he never seemed too close to scoring from his feet, though, meaning the match ended in another frustrating loss.
"Frustrating" is a good way to describe that dual. Losing to Oklahoma State always stings, but getting manhandled by Oklahoma State is really galling. Iowa's offense was DOA in this dual outside of the middleweight matches and that's simply not a winning formula. Oklahoma State has a lot of very good wrestlers and there were a lot of tough match-ups in this dual -- but none of them went Iowa's way except for the Lugo-Gfeller match at 149. There's clearly a lot of improvement needed in this Iowa team heading into the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments. They've got a few weeks to get right or Sunday's disappointment will only be the tip of the iceberg.
NEXT: Iowa heads to Minnesota for the Big Ten Tournament on March 8-9.