Iowa wrestling took the mat for the first time in two weeks on Friday night -- for their first dual meet in a month -- but there was little rust to be found in their performance. The Hawkeyes blitzed the Hoosiers 41-0 in Bloomington to pick up their 25th consecutive dual meet victory over Indiana. The, uh, 52-year wait for a win over Iowa will have to wait another year for the IU faithful. Not a bad way to start the new year -- or the new decade, for that matter.
The dual meet started at 149 lbs, where Pat Lugo, newly ranked #1 in the nation after his standout performance at the Midlands Championships, got things started with a 10-6 win for the Hawkeyes. Kaleb Young kept things rolling along with an 11-4 win at 157 lbs, before Alex Marinelli put the first bonus points on the board for Iowa with a third period pin. Michael Kemerer had to grind out a 9-6 decision win at 174 lbs, before Abe Assad made a (somewhat) surprising debut in an Iowa singlet at 184 lbs, where he picked up a decision win in his official Hawkeye debut to close out the first half of the dual meet.
Jacob Warner started off the second half of the dual with another decision win to make the score 21-0. Then Iowa started really pouring on the points. Tony Cassioppi lived up to his Tony Pins nickname with a 20-second (!) fall at heavyweight, while Spencer Lee wrestled a few seconds into the second period before finishing a 15-0 technical fall at 125. Austin DeSanto got a third early match ending with a first period pin of his own. Max Murin finished off the dual with a 6-0 decision win to finish off the 41-0 win for Iowa.
We expected Iowa to dominate in this dual meet and while we there are reasonable quibbles with a few performances (which we'll discuss further below), overall Iowa did exactly what you'd want them to do in a dual like this. They put the pedal down from the beginning, secured several bonus point wins, and shut out a massively overmatched opponent.
|149||#1 Pat Lugo||DEC (10-6)||Graham Rooks||IOWA 3-0|
|157||#4 Kaleb Young||DEC (11-4)||Fernando Silva||IOWA 6-0|
|165||#2 Alex Marinelli||FALL (5:34)||Davey Tunon||IOWA 12-0|
|174||#2 Michael Kemerer||DEC (9-6)||#27 Jacob Covaciu||IOWA 15-0|
|184||Abe Assad||DEC (6-2)||Jake Hinz||IOWA 18-0|
|197||#5 Jacob Warner||DEC (8-3)||Nick Willham||IOWA 21-0|
|285||#4 Tony Cassioppi||FALL (0:20)||Rudy Streck||IOWA 27-0|
|125||#1 Spencer Lee||TECH FALL (15-0)||Liam Cronin||IOWA 32-0|
|133||#2 Austin DeSanto||FALL (2:42)||Jonathan Moran||IOWA 38-0|
|141||#5 Max Murin||DEC (6-0)||Eddie Bolivar||IOWA 41-0|
A few additional thoughts:
Pat Lugo wrestled his best match of the year -- and maybe the best match of his Iowa career -- in the Midlands final against Austin O'Connor, which made his performance here seem a bit disappointing. He did a nice job early on, scoring an early takedown and getting a turn to pick up four NF points. But after that early 6-0 flurry, there was no scoring to speak of from Lugo; his remaining points came on escapes and riding time. He was in on Rooks' legs a few times in the second and third periods, but was unable to finish his shots. Worse, he gave up a pair of takedowns to Rooks as well to help the IU wrestler make the match far more competitive than it needed to be. The Lugo who won Midlands can do big things in March, but we need to see that version of Lugo more consistently.
Kaleb Young made it two-for-two in Iowa wrestlers failing to secure bonus points at the start of the dual meet, which was annoying. Young's match was never in doubt (nor was Lugo's match, really), and he had a very workmanlike win, with takedowns in each period (as well as a bonus takedown in the first). He even had a major decision secured in the third period -- before giving up a late takedown that took that off the board. That didn't matter for this match -- nor this overall dual -- but when a major decision is within your grasp, you want to seize it, not let it slip away.
Fortunately, Marinelli picked up the bonus points that Lugo and Young let escape -- and then some. The Bull dominated his match from the start and stalked Tunon around the match, picking up takedowns with ease. That was quite a pin that he got as well; it's not often you see a guy get pinned with a figure four head-lock in college wrestling, but The Bull is out there proving that he is The Man.
From a performance standpoint, Kemerer's match at 174 lbs was probably the biggest eyebrow-raiser for Iowa. Covaciu is a solid wrestler, but not someone that we particularly expected Kemerer to struggle against -- but that was one of the more ragged efforts of the year for Kemdawg. He started very well, grabbing a leg and a takedown almost off the opening whistle, and opened up a 4-2 lead at the end of the first period. But he definitely seemed to tire in the second and third periods, struggling to finish shots and even conceding a takedown to Covaciu in the third period. Perhaps his cardio isn't where it needs to be yet; either way, it makes his match with #4 Dylan Lydy on Sunday even more intriguing.
The most eyebrow-raising thing about the dual as a whole was definitely the move to burn Abe Assad's redshirt and give him the start at 184 lbs over Cash Wilcke and Nelson Brands. I was very skeptical that Brands would make that move before the weekend, despite Assad's strong showing at Midlands, but I was wrong: Assad is the future for Iowa at 184 lbs and evidently the future is now. Assad admitted to having some jitters after the dual (understandably), but he was able to grind out a methodical 6-2 win. There's little point in burning Assad's redshirt unless he's going to be the man in every match going forward (barring injury or illness) and Iowa's upcoming schedule includes some top-tier 184ers (including #6 Taylor Venz of Nebraska next week), so we won't have to wait long to see how he stacks up against tougher competition.
Speaking of methodical, there's no better way to describe Jacob Warner's 9-2 win at 197 lbs. Like Lugo and Young, it's a bit frustrating that he wasn't able to get a major decision here; Warner was firmly in control throughout the match and seemed likely to get more takedowns if he'd put a bit more emphasis into trying to get them.
Tony Cassioppi is not a wrestler who needs an extra push to look for bonus points, though, and Tony Pins did not disappoint here. He got a pin in 20 seconds! TWENTY SECONDS! The Iowa wrestling Twitter account had an amusing thread about that here (which includes all 20 seconds of Cassioppi's match, too), but that figure is still mind-boggling. It's the quickest pin for an Iowa wrestler this season and, as best I can tell, the quickest pin for any Iowa wrestler since Mitch Bowman pinned Corey Abernathy in 15 seconds at the Luther Open in 2014.
Spencer Lee had to wrestle into the second period! Well, for a few seconds anyway. Another match, another 15-0 technical fall for the Iowa wrestler who defies superlatives at this point. This was the usual formula for Spencer: lightning-fast takedown, then several trips to tilt town. He just wasn't able to get quite enough tilts in the first to end the match then, so he took a 12-0 lead into the second period. A quick escape and another takedown later, though, and the match was done.
Austin DeSanto wrestled his first match since picking up his first loss of the season against Seth Gross in the Midlands finals two weeks ago and, as usual, he looked like he was shot out of a cannon. DeSanto charged through Moran for a takedown almost immediately after the opening whistle and he worked such a relentless tempo on offense that he was leading the match 14-3 (and on his way to four more nearfall points and an 18-3 technical fall win) before he locked up a pin at 2:42 in the first period. A rampaging DeSanto is truly something to behold on the wrestling mat.
- Finally, Max Murin picked up Iowa's 10th and final win of the day with an extremely workmanlike 6-0 win at 141 lbs. First period takedown, mean ride-out. Second period: put on a ride for the entire period. Third period: quick escape, then another takedown and another mean ride-out. Tack on a riding time point and, voila, you've got a 6-0 win. I would have liked to see Murin cut him and go for a few more takedowns -- he finished cleanly when he did take shots in this match -- as I think he would have had a good shot at bonus points if he'd done so. But this was still a completely controlling performance by Murin.
A look back at Friday's wrestling action in Bloomington! pic.twitter.com/GztgHzhZgt— Iowa Hawkeye Wrestling (@Hawks_Wrestling) January 11, 2020
NEXT: Iowa faces #18 Purdue in West Lafayette on Sunday (3 PM CT, BTN+).