The top-ranked Iowa wrestling team wrestled their first dual meet in Carver-Hawkeye Arena in over a month and they made sure to send over 13,000 Hawkeye fans home happy with a decisive 26-6 victory over #7 Nebraska on Saturday night. The lopsided margin of victory for the dual overall might obscure the fact that this was a pretty tense and tightly-wrestled dual meet overall, though. Nine of the ten matches were decisions and seven of those ten decisions were decided by three points or fewer. Five straight matches -- from 157 through 197 -- were decided by a takedown in the third period, with a few of the wins, such as Michael Kemerer at 174 and Eric Schultz at 197, coming in the very final seconds.
This was a solid win for Iowa overall, but this performance also showed that there's still plenty of work to do for this team. Iowa won eight of the ten matches in this dual, but most of those winners need to do more to extend their winning margins in those matches. Scoring more first period takedowns is especially crucial; Iowa failed to do so in six of the ten matches in this dual; they ended up losing two of those matches (141, 197) and needed late heroics to win two others (165, 174). Score early and score often -- that's a winning formula.
#1 Iowa 26, #7 Nebraska 6
|125||#1 Spencer Lee||TECH FALL (18-0)||Alex Thomsen||IOWA 5-0|
|133||#2 Austin DeSanto||DEC (7-4)||#12 Ridge Lovett||IOWA 8-0|
|141||#9 Chad Red||DEC (6-2)||#3 Max Murin||IOWA 8-3|
|149||#1 Pat Lugo||DEC (4-1)||#18 Collin Purinton||IOWA 11-3|
|157||#4 Kaleb Young||DEC (6-4)||#19 Peyton Robb||IOWA 14-3|
|165||#2 Alex Marinelli||DEC (4-3)||#5 Isaiah White||IOWA 17-3|
|174||#2 Michael Kemerer||DEC (3-1)||#6 Mikey Labriola||IOWA 20-3|
|184||#9 Abe Assad||DEC (6-4)||#5 Taylor Venz||IOWA 23-3|
|197||#15 Eric Schultz||DEC (3-1)||#4 Jacob Warner||IOWA 23-6|
|285||#3 Tony Cassioppi||DEC (6-1)||#16 Christian Lance||IOWA 26-6|
A few thoughts:
As usual, Spencer Lee started the dual meet with a bang for Iowa, recording an 18-0 technical fall to dispatch Nebraska's Alex Thomsen. It took Lee a bit longer to get the offense going in this one -- a whole minute and a half! -- but once we got the takedown the match followed a familiar script, with Thomsen, as expected, taking several trips to Tilt Town and Lee racking up a quartet of four-point nearfalls. Lee is now 9-0 on the season, with bonus points in all nine victories. Only four of those nine matches have even made it out of the first period; just one has made it to the third period.
Austin DeSanto kept Iowa's usual 1-2 punch at the lighter weights in effect, though only with a 7-4 decision victory this time. DeSanto started well with a pair of first-period takedowns, but things slowed down after that and he only managed one more takedown. The third period was all Lovett as he put a hard ride on DeSanto for the entire period. He didn't come close to scoring on DeSanto from neutral, but getting out from bottom was problem for DeSanto on occasion last year and that was true again last night. He'll want to work on that ahead of March.
Iowa had won 24 straight dual matches entering the 141 lb bout on Saturday night, but that streak came to an end with Chad Red's 6-2 win over Max Murin. Murin was, simply, second-best in this match; Red came out faster and stronger; he finished his shots more cleanly (and was in deep on a few more attacks that he didn't finish), rode well, and rebuffed Murin's offense easily. Red looked really, really good here; Murin did not. Max has had a strong sophomore season, but this match certainly showed plenty of areas where he'll need to improve.
Nebraska's winning momentum was quickly halted at 149 lbs, where Pat Lugo restored order for Iowa with a 4-1 victory. Lugo started strongly with a takedown in the first period and then rode Purinton out for over two minutes to conclude the period. An escape to start the second made it 3-0 Lugo at that point, but he slowed down at that point and failed to keep his attacks up. Purinton didn't put him in too much danger in the final two periods, but it would have been nice to see Lugo get another takedown or two to boost his winning margin.
Kaleb Young made it four wins in five for Iowa with a 6-4 win at 157 lbs. He got a takedown late in the first period to take the lead, but Peyton Robb was able to get a takedown of his own in the second period to tie the match at 3-3. Young got a takedown in the third to win the match, but this was still an uncomfortably tight match (as so many were in this dual).
Continuing in that trend was Marinelli vs White at 165 lbs. The first period was headed for a 0-0 deadlock -- until White caught Marinelli flat-footed with a blast double in the final seconds of the period to earn himself a 2-0 lead. You could see what White's gameplan was: get a late takedown, deny Marinelli an escape point, get a quick escape of his own, and then play defense. It wasn't a bad strategy, but it broke down in the second period as Marinelli put on a smothering ride for the entire period. That ended up being a two-point swing in the match; Marinelli all but guaranteed himself a riding time point, while denying White an escape point. White still led 2-0 entering the third period, but a Marinelli escape made it 2-1. Midway through the period he finally got a takedown of his own at the edge of the mat to go up 3-2. White got an escape before the match was over to tie it at 3-3, but Marinelli's riding time point provided the winning margin. Marinelli showed great fortitude in coming back and he finished the match well in the second and third periods but, once again, scoring early points might have made for a less stressful match -- and an easier win.
174 was another tight match, with Kemerer and Labriola wrestling a scoreless first period and trading escapes to start the second and third periods. That said, there was some action despite the lack of scoring -- there were some frenetic scrambles in the match, particularly at the end of the first period (when Kemerer narrowly avoided getting taken down) and the end of the third period (when Kemerer was able to come out on top of the scramble and secure what ended up being the match-winning takedown). Again, great fortitude by Kemerer in pulling out the win at the end, but it would be better to see more scoring earlier in the match. Leaving things to a single takedown is dangerous, as we saw for Iowa later in the night.
The highlight of the night may have come at 184 lbs, where true freshman Abe Assad made his Carver-Hawkeye Arena debut -- and dazzled. Assad tried for some serious fireworks early in the bout with an attempt at a big move off a headlock, but it ended up turning into a scoring opportunity for Venz, who converted it for a takedown of his own. An escape for Assad made the match 2-1 heading to the second period. Venz got an escape to start the second to extend his lead to 3-1 -- but the match was all Assad after that. Assad tied the match on a slick takedown and then was able to ride Venz for the rest of the period. An escape to start the third period made it 4-3 in favor of Assad. But Assad, to his credit, kept up the pressure on Venz after that -- and he was rewarded with another takedown. The roar after that -- and again after Assad's eventual win -- was probably the loudest that Carver got all night. Toppling a returning All-American like Venz is a huge boost to Assad's case to remain the starter at 184 lbs.
197 ended up being almost a carbon copy of the 174 lb match -- only with the winning side reversed. Warner and Schultz wrestled a scoreless first period before trading quick escapes at the beginning of the second and third periods. But with the match tied 1-1 and seemingly headed for overtime, Schultz was able to get to Warner's legs and secure the winning takedown in the final seconds, just as Kemerer had at 174 lbs for Iowa. Late wins giveth -- and late wins taketh as well. Warner had a good win over Purdue's Christian Brunner last weekend, but his loss here highlights the up-and-down nature of his season to date; he'll need to find more consistency in his results in March and the only way to do that is to get his offense earlier (and more often) in matches.
- Tony Cassioppi made sure the dual ended on a positive note for Iowa after the disappointment in the previous bout. After another scoreless first period (a theme in too many bouts in this dual), Lance got an escape in the second to go up 1-0, before Cassioppi finally got to his legs and converted for a takedown. Cassioppi rode him out for the rest of the period, then got an escape and another takedown in the third to extend his lead in the match. He wasn't able to get a pin (or bonus points), but a workmanlike 6-1 win was a fine way to end the night anyway.
Thanks to the 12,883 who came out to Carver Saturday, we can't wait to see you again on Friday. In the meantime, another look at Saturday's highlights. pic.twitter.com/WZ4fmxEktU— Iowa Hawkeye Wrestling (@Hawks_Wrestling) January 19, 2020
NEXT: Iowa hosts #4 Ohio State (6-1, 2-0 Big Ten) on Friday, January 24 at 8 PM CT (BTN).