Iowa went out east to New Jersey to face a good Princeton team in front of an energized crowd at the Jadwin Gymnasium; it's not often that the #1-ranked team in the country and one of the most storied programs in the history of the sport makes a visit there. In fact, this was Iowa's first-ever trip to Princeton to face the Tigers. In the end, Iowa's top-to-bottom quality was too much for the Tigers and the Hawkeyes were able to cruise to a 30-9 win, with wins in seven of the ten matches and bonus points in five of those seven wins. Iowa's best wrestlers showed up in a big way at this dual, with Austin DeSanto and Michael Kemerer notching lopsided technical falls and Alex Marinelli ending his bonus point drought with a pin. Jacob Warner didn't get bonus points, but he picked up one of the biggest wins of his career with a thrilling 5-4 decision victory over #2 Patrick Brucki.
Princeton got on the board first, with #4 Patrick Glory, one of the Tigers' best wrestlers, posting a 10-4 decision win at 125 lbs. Spencer Lee did not make the trip out to New Jersey with the Iowa team as he prepared for the U.S. Senior Nationals freestyle event in a few weeks, so Aaron Cashman wrestled in his place. Glory's victory gave Princeton a 3-0 lead, which was the first time Iowa had trailed in a dual meet all season. Princeton's lead was short-lived, though, because Austin DeSanto was a whirlwind of action at 133 lbs and blitzed his way to a 25-10 technical fall. Max Murin followed that with a very controlling 12-2 major decision win to give Iowa a 9-3 lead after three weights.
Iowa split the next two matches, with Pat Lugo eking out a 3-2 decision win in overtime at 149 lbs and Kaleb Young losing a 3-2 decision at 157 lbs. Overall there were four matches in this dual decided by one point each; all went down to the wire, with Iowa and Princeton each winning two fo them. After intermission, Iowa regained firm control of the dual meet with another pair of blowout bonus point wins. Alex Marinelli racked up a bevy of takedowns at 165 lbs before finally getting the pin he had been seeking and ending the match. Michael Kemerer nearly matched him with a pin in the first period at 174 lbs, but couldn't quite get both shoulders on the mat; he was dominant throughout the match, though, and finished off a 19-4 technical fall in the third period.
Princeton got their third and final win of the afternoon at 184 lbs, where Nelson Brands dropped a 7-6 decision to lose his first match of the season (and, in fact, his first match since coming to Iowa). 197 was arguably the most-anticipated match of the dual as it pitted the #2 and #4-ranked wrestlers and it did not disappoint, with both Warner and Brucki looking active throughout. Brucki had a 4-3 lead late before Warner was able to get hold of one of Brucki's legs and finish with only seconds remaining in the third period. That was a phenomenal win. Tony Cassioppi attempted to end the dual with a pin but was stymied by Aidan Conner and had to settle for a one-sided 10-2 major decision win.
#1 Iowa 30, Princeton 9
|125||#4 Patrick Glory||DEC (10-4)||Aaron Cashman||PRINCETON 3-0|
|133||#1 Austin DeSanto||TECH FALL (25-10)||Sean Pierson||IOWA 5-3|
|141||#10 Max Murin||MAJ DEC (12-2)||Marshall Keller||IOWA 9-3|
|149||#3 Pat Lugo||DEC (3-2 OT)||#19 Mike D'Angelo||IOWA 12-3|
|157||#9 Quincy Monday||DEC (3-2)||#3 Kaleb Young||IOWA 12-6|
|165||#2 Alex Marinelli||FALL (6:20)||Connor Melbourne||IOWA 18-6|
|174||#2 Michael Kemerer||TECH FALL (19-4)||Kevin Parker||IOWA 23-6|
|184||Travis Stefanik||DEC (7-6)||#9 Nelson Brands||IOWA 23-9|
|197||#4 Jacob Warner||DEC (5-4)||#2 Patrick Brucki||IOWA 26-9|
|285||#4 Tony Cassioppi||MAJ DEC (10-2)||Aidan Conner||IOWA 30-9|
(individual rankings via Trackwrestling; team rankings via NCWA Coaches Poll)
A few thoughts:
Cashman got thrown into the deep end for his first start in an Iowa dual meet, but he acquitted himself pretty well against an All-American like Glory. Cashman wasn't able to do much from neutral against Glory, but he got two reversals on him on the mat, which was impressive. Cashman also did a good job of stymieing Glory and preventing any bonus points in the match.
That was a classic DeSanto takedown machine performance at 133 lbs. He had four takedowns in the first ninety seconds of the match and finished with 12 on his way to that 25-10 win early in the third period. He didn't spend much time trying to ride Pierson, but there wasn't much need to when he could finish takedowns so easily on Pierson.
Murin looked very, very solid at 141 lbs. His performance didn't have as much sizzle as, say, DeSanto or Marinelli or Kemerer, but he was in control from beginning to end, showed good aggression in looking for takedowns early and often in periods. He rode Keller well, too. It was also good to see Murin looking to score more points and seeking bonus points here, too; he wasn't content to just cruise to a simple 6-2 win.
Lugo's match was... frustrating. He very nearly scored a takedown in (I believe) the first period, but wasn't able to get his leg free from D'Angelo and finish the shot, nor was he able to expose D'Angelo's back long enough in the neutral danger position to score that way. Unfortunately, that ended up being Lugo's only good scoring attempt of the match. They spent the second and third periods almost exclusively on their feet -- Lugo rode D'Angelo for six seconds and D'Angelo rode Lugo for five seconds -- but that did not result in any takedowns, nor even any strong attacks and scramble situations. It was just a lot of tying up and circling. The sudden victory period wasn't much different. I'm glad Lugo prevailed with a reversal in the tiebreak period, but he wrestles too many matches like this and that's not often a winning formula in March. He needs to take more shots to give himself more chances to score.
Young's match was also frustrating and also featured a lack of offense from the Iowa wrestler. Monday exploded off the whistle and got a quick double-leg takedown on Young -- and that takedown held up for the rest of the match. They traded escapes in the second and third periods. Unfortunately, Young was never particularly close to scoring on Monday (who did have a couple good attacks on Young after that initial successful takedown). He also spent too much tying up and seemed to be looking for the perfect shot or the ideal set-up, which he never found. Young needs to find more ways to score even when the set-ups aren't quite what he wants them to be. This is his second loss in three matches and while both Carr and Monday are potential All-Americans, they're exactly the sort of wrestler he's going to need to defeat to earn a high spot on the podium in March.
Marinelli has been one of Iowa's team leaders since he entered the lineup two years ago and performances like he had today exemplified his leadership. He's a vocal leader on the sidelines and in the training room, but he leads by example on the mat. Melbourne made a quick attack off the opening whistle and nearly scored -- but the match was all Marinelli after that. We don't often see Marinelli work takedown clinics, but he did that here and absolutely wore out Melbourne with takedown after takedown through the first and second periods. Needing one more takedown to lock up a 23-8 technical fall in the third, Marinelli instead took Melbourne directly to his back and got the pin. Not a bad way to get his first bonus point win of the season at all.
While Princeton in general seemed to get off to quicker starts in the matches this afternoon, Kemerer flipped that script in his match. He was all over Parker from the opening whistle and had a 6-1 lead (from a takedown and four nearfall points) almost before anyone could blink. Kemerer nearly got a pin a few moments later, but just couldn't quite get both of Parker's shoulders to the mat. Kemerer maintained the pressure into the third period and finally capped things off with a 19-4 technical fall win. Kemerer's strength and quickness continue to look outstanding at his new weight.
Nelson Brands got the call for Iowa at 184 a week after Cash Wilcke had a disappointing outing against Wisconsin; unfortunately, the result was the same this week: a loss for the Iowa wrestler. Brands was unable to get his own offense on track early and also got caught by Stefanik and trailed 2-1 after the first. Stefanik got an escape to go up 3-1 before Brands finally connected on his own offense and got a takedown to tie the match at 3-3. Unfortunately, he gave up an escape and then got caught flat-footed and gave up another takedown as time was running out in the period to trail 6-3 heading to the third. Brands escaped to start the third and finally got another takedown with around 30 seconds to go, which tied the match at 6-6. Rather than try to ride out Stefanik and go to sudden victory, Brands let him up and went looking for another takedown to win the match in regulation; unfortunately, he came up short. Brands got caught a bit on both of the takedowns he conceded and didn't look quite as sharp as he did in his wins earlier in the season, though his motor was evident throughout. Midlands is still going to be very interesting for this weight in a few weeks.
Jacob Warner won probably the most exciting match of the day -- and picked up arguably the biggest win of his Iowa career, too. This was the sort of performance from Warner that makes his showings in the matches earlier this season so aggravating; if he has this sort of match in him, why can't we see it more often? Warner showed a lot of fire here (especially after the win) and that emotion was exciting to see. Brucki is a tricky foe, given his squat shape and his incredible strength; it's telling that Warner, a good rider, didn't even really try to ride Brucki in the few opportunities he had to do so. Warner fought off Brucki well for most of the first period, but Brucki was able to latch on to a leg late and finally finish a takedown with time expiring. Warner responded in the second with an escape and a solid takedown of his own to take a brief 3-2 lead, although as noted, he didn't really try to ride Brucki so the score became 3-3 after Brucki's quick escape. Brucki got another quick escape to start the third which set the stage for an intense -- and pretty active -- third period, as Brucki wasn't too content to try and coast to a 1-point win, while Warner was hunting points of his own. Warner was finally rewarded with time running out, as he got a firm grip on Brucki's leg and was able to suck him in for a critical takedown with almost no time left. Just a phenomenal win for Warner and a really good showing from him; hopefully he can build off this in the future.
- Finally, Tony Cassioppi finished off the dual with a workmanlike 10-2 major decision. Cassioppi certainly wanted a pin, but Conner seemed bound and determined to not give that up, so Cassioppi had to settle for a handful of easy takedowns and a ho-hum major decision instead. It's good see bonus from Cassioppi even if he isn't able to put an opponent on his back, though.
Watch some of the highlights from today's victory out east: pic.twitter.com/vpIqrncPyX— Iowa Hawkeye Wrestling (@Hawks_Wrestling) December 9, 2019
NEXT: Iowa's next dual meet isn't until a month from now, when they head to Indiana on January 10th. Before that, they'll be in action at the annual Midlands Championships in Evanston, IL on December 29-30.