Does beating the brakes off Ohio State ever get old? No. No, it does not.
4th-ranked Ohio State came to Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday night for a hotly-anticipated dual meet with #1 Iowa wrestling; they left with a lopsided loss. Iowa won seven of ten matches, including six of the first seven to open up a 21-3 lead on the Buckeyes. Ohio State won two of the final three matches to take a little bit of the sting out of Iowa's victory, but this was still a pretty decisive win for Iowa. The dual did lose a little bit of its luster with Iowa wrestling back-ups at 197 and 141, denying us a few Top 10 match-ups at those weights. (Ohio State wrestled a back-up at 125, but something tells me that didn't make much of a difference in the final result.)
Things got underway at 165 lbs, where Alex Marinelli won a 14-10 decision over Ethan Smith that featured plenty of points. It was 6-5 Marinelli at the end of the first and it didn't really let up from there. Michael Kemerer picked up a 7-1 decision win at 174 lbs in which he seemed to be in total control after getting an early takedown and riding Romero hard. 184 looked like something close to a toss-up before the dual and it played out as a very tight match, but freshman phenom Abe Assad came through in the clutch again, scoring a third period takedown to earn a 3-1 win.
The first surprise of the night came at 197, where Cash Wilcke subbed in for Jacob Warner. Kollin Moore got the expected win, but to Wilcke's credit, he limited the damage to a simple decision. Iowa closed out the first half of the dual with a win at heavyweight, where Tony Cassioppi picked up a 9-3 decision win over Gary Traub thanks to a pair of first period takedowns and a big throw in the third period that led to a takedown and a 2-point nearfall. Iowa did get deducted a team point for "failure to control the mat area" after Cassioppi's win, though, which reduced their 12-3 lead to 11-3.
After intermission Iowa brought out the big guns and they did not disappoint. Spencer Lee rolled up yet another 18-0 technical fall... in the first period. Austin DeSanto gave up a takedown off the opening whistle to Jordan Decatur, but that just seemed to fire him up even more; DeSanto went on an absolute tear after that and racked up takedowns at a dizzying rate on his way to a 27-12 technical fall win of his own.
Ohio State stopped the bleeding at 141 with top-ranked Luke Pletcher rolling to an easy 14-5 major decision win over Carter Happel. Happel got the nod over usual starter Max Murin, but struggled to slow down Pletcher here. 149 looked like it would be one of the closest matches of the night before the dual and it did not disappoint in that regard, as Sammy Sasso edged Pat Lugo 2-1 in the second overtime session (tiebreakers). More on that below. Kaleb Young closed the night out with an Iowa win, a thoroughly workmanlike 4-1 effort over Elijah Cleary.
#1 Iowa 24, #4 Ohio State 10
|165||#2 Alex Marinelli||DEC (14-10)||#8 Ethan Smith||IOWA 3-0|
|174||#2 Michael Kemerer||DEC (7-1)||#12 Kaleb Romero||IOWA 6-0|
|184||#6 Abe Assad||DEC (3-1)||#22 Rocky Jordan||IOWA 9-0|
|197||#1 Kollin Moore||DEC (8-3)||Cash Wilcke||IOWA 9-3|
|285||#3 Tony Cassioppi||DEC (9-3)||#24 Gary Traub||IOWA 11-3*|
|125||#1 Spencer Lee||TECH FALL (18-0)||Hunter Lucas||IOWA 16-3|
|133||#2 Austin DeSanto||TECH FALL (27-12)||#15 Jordan Decatur||IOWA 21-3|
|141||#1 Luke Pletcher||MAJ DEC (14-5)||Carter Happel||IOWA 21-7|
|149||#6 Sammy Sasso||DEC (2-1 TB)||#1 Pat Lugo||IOWA 21-10|
|157||#4 Kaleb Young||DEC (4-1)||#32 Elijah Cleary||IOWA 24-10|
*Iowa was deducted a team point for "failure to control the mat area" after the 285 lb match.
A few thoughts:
Marinelli's win felt a lot more lopsided than the final score suggested. Marinelli had six takedowns in the match; Smith had... two. But Smith was able to take advantage of six escapes and timed his takedowns to the end of the first and third periods, which helped him prevent Marinelli from getting escapes of his own. Marinelli was all-action from neutral and finished his shots crisply, but he did get caught off-balance a few times, which led to Smith's takedowns.
Outside of 125 and 133, 174 was probably the match where Iowa had the best chance of getting bonus points, so it was a touch disappointing to see Kemerer come as close as he did but not come away with the extra points. If he'd been able to get a takedown in the second, he would have been able to lock up a major decision. Still, Kemerer seemed to be in complete control throughout this match, which is always nice to see.
Assad picked up another dramatic win and while it's been great to see him finding a way to get key takedowns in the third period, we certainly wouldn't seeing some less dramatic wins, either! But this was another match that showed Assad's mental toughness and calm under pressure; those are two great attributes to have, so hopefully the offense will flow a bit more freely as he gets more comfortable.
I don't know if Warner was dinged up or ill or if Tom Brands just wanted to give him the night off, but it was disappointing not to see him tangle with Moore here. That looked like one of the bigger (and better) match-ups of the night and it would have been interesting to see how Warner would have fared against Moore this time. Hopefully we get to see it at the Big Ten Tournament instead. Kudos to Wilcke for wrestling up a weight and competing pretty hard with Moore.
Cassioppi's win was a strange one. He had two nice-looking first period takedowns (including one that really showed off his impressive strength) and he got another takedown in the third off an upper body throw (I'm not sure going upper body with a guy who was a two-time junior national champion in Greco Roman is a great idea, but Gas Tank Gary gonna didn't ask me). In-between, though, he got ridden really hard by Traub in the second period -- though Cassioppi did manage to finally get an escape with just a few seconds left in the period. Weird match, but Cassioppi did get the job done comfortably in the end.
Wrestling the sixth match instead of the first of the night meant that Spencer Lee got some extra rest before competition tonight... not sure Spencer needs any extra advantages, frankly. This match followed the same formula as all of his recent matches: takedown about a minute into the match, then several trips to Tilt Town on the way to an 18-0 technical fall win. He almost finished this one even sooner with a pin near the edge of the mat, but Lucas miraculously was able to keep his shoulders off the mat; all that did was subject him to another 90 seconds of turns and tilts, though.
DeSanto's match with Jordan Decatur at 133 was like watching someone try to wrestle a tornado. Decatur jumped out to a 2-0 lead with a takedown off the opening whistle... and that just seemed to light a fire under DeSanto. He got a quick escape and went to work from neutral, scoring three takedowns in the first to take a 7-4 lead. He kept up the pressure in the second and led 18-8 entering the third; he finished with a 27-12 technical fall... with a minute to spare. To give you an idea of how quick his takedown binge was, he didn't record his first takedown until the 2:10 mark of the first period. He recorded his last takedown with 1:02 to go in the third period. So in five minutes of match time, DeSanto scored 12 takedowns. He absolutely broke Decatur in this match; he was dead shortly into the second period and just giving up a series of simple go-behinds for easy takedowns for DeSanto. This was just an absolute ass-kicking.
Like 197, it was a bummer not to see Murin at 141 here. I was looking forward to seeing how he might fare with Pletcher, who is a monster now that he's moved up from 133. Perhaps we'll get to see Murin-Pletcher at the Big Ten Tournament.
149 ended up being the highest-profile match of the night and it didn't particularly disappoint from a drama standpoint, even if the outcome was frustrating. It was frustrating to see three video reviews go against Iowa here (so much for home cooking, I guess) and it was even more frustrating to see Sasso win despite doing next to nothing on offense for the entire nine-minute duration of the match. But this match was a textbook example of what can happen if you don't finish cleanly. Lugo was in on at least 5-6 really good shots on Sasso... but he wasn't able to finish any of them quickly or cleanly, and he ended up with no takedowns -- and, eventually, no victory. Sasso's defense was certainly impressive, but it would be nice to see Lugo get another crack at him at the Big Ten Tournament -- and if he does, hopefully he's able to finish a shot or two.
- Kaleb Young's 4-1 win over Cleary was perfectly fine; he got a first period takedown, rode the snot out of Cleary, and tacked on an escape and a riding time point. You'd just like to see a bit more on offense from Young in matches like this.
NEXT: This is the big one, as #2 Penn State comes to town next Friday night (8 PM CT, BTN). Let's get ready to rumble.