Almost exactly a year ago #1 Iowa wrestling hosted #7 Nebraska at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa won eight of ten matches that night on their way to a 26-6 victory over the Huskers. This year #1 Iowa wrestling hosted #6 Nebraska at Carver-Hawkeye Arena -- and the result was awfully similar, with Iowa cruising to a 31-6 victory. Each team had seven wrestlers from last year's dual in action this year (albeit not all at the same weights they were at a year ago), but the end result didn't change much: Nebraska won two matches and Iowa won the rest, often in lopsided fashion. The biggest difference between last year and this year? There were 13,000 Iowa fans at CHA last year to cheer on the Hawkeyes, while this year, thanks to COVID precautions, only a few hundred people were able to witness Iowa dismantle Nebraska in-person.
Iowa won all five matches before intermission, including blowaway wins at 125 (a pin in less than 90 seconds) and a 133 (a second-period technical fall), as well as a major decision at 157. The Hawkeyes led 11-0 after just two bouts and extended that lead to 21-0 at the break. Iowa and Nebraska split the last four matches of the dual, but Iowa already had a 24-0 lead by that point, so the only question was exactly how lopsided the final margin would be.
While there was little intrigue about the final result in this dual, there was intrigue around several matches, owing to some highly-anticipated debuts (like Jaydin Eierman at 141 for Iowa) or high-profile match-ups (like three potential Top 10 showdowns from 174 to 197). Eierman did not disappoint, topping All-American Chad Red in an entertaining and hard-fought win. Only two of the three Top 10 showdowns ended up taking place, as Michael Kemerer (#1 at 174 lbs) sat out the dual for precautionary medical reasons. (Brands indicated after the dual that it was only a minor issue and Kemerer was expected to wrestle next week.) Even that provided an opportunity to see hyped recruit Patrick Kennedy, one of Iowa's biggest gets since Spencer Lee, make his Iowa debut in a narrow 7-4 loss to #4 Mikey Labriola. Iowa and Nebraska split the other two Top 10 match-ups, with #8 Nelson Brands steamrolling #6 Taylor Venz in a stunning -- and hugely impressive -- result at 184 and #2 Eric Schultz using a third-period takedown to narrowly down #3 Jacob Warner at 197.
#1 Iowa 31, #6 Nebraska 6
|125||#1 Spencer Lee||FALL (1:21)||#16 Liam Cronin||IOWA 6-0|
|133||#5 Austin DeSanto||TECH FALL (21-5)||#20 Alex Thomsen||IOWA 11-0|
|141||#1 Jaydin Eierman||DEC (8-4)||#7 Chad Red||IOWA 14-0|
|149||#6 Max Murin||DEC (7-2)||#16 Brock Hardy||IOWA 17-0|
|157||#7 Kaleb Young||MAJ DEC (17-5)||#29 Caleb Licking||IOWA 21-0|
|165||#2 Alex Marinelli||DEC (9-3)||#17 Peyton Robb||IOWA 24-0|
|174||#4 Mikey Labriola||DEC (7-4)||Patrick Kennedy||IOWA 24-3|
|184||#8 Nelson Brands||MAJ DEC (13-5)||#6 Taylor Venz||IOWA 28-3|
|197||#2 Eric Schultz||DEC (3-2)||#3 Jacob Warner||IOWA 28-6|
|285||#3 Tony Cassioppi||DEC (4-0)||#23 Christian Lance||IOWA 31-6|
A few weight-by-weight thoughts:
Spencer Lee did what Spencer Lee does: a quick takedown less than ten seconds into the match, then his usual punishing routine on top. He got an armbar and a tilt for nearfall points, then re-positioned and planted Cronin's back to the mat, all in under 90 seconds total. There are very rarely any wasted moments in a Lee a match.
DeSanto is noted for his relentless tempo and it was on full display in his win over Thomsen. He notched three takedowns in the first period -- and followed that with a an escape and five more takedowns in the second period, as well as a tilt for four nearfall points. DeSanto's pressure just wears on opponents and the variety of his attacks can really make it easy for him to chain together attacks when he gets on a roll. He also displayed some excellent scrambling in this match and it was very encouraging to see him looking for nearfall points as much as he was -- he tried (unsuccessfully) at a tilt in the first period, but went back to it in the second and secured it four a four-point nearfall then. The more ways DeSanto has to score, the more dangerous he'll be against all opponents.
The book on Jaydin Eierman is that he's very good at scoring from his opponent's attacks and brings some funk to the match. Check and check. Eierman started a little sluggishly, giving up a takedown in the first period on a straight-on double leg shot from Red, but he got going after that. He quickly got an escape to cut the lead to 2-1, then tied the match at 2-2 with another fast escape to start the second period. Red got to his leg again on an attack after that, but Eierman showed off some of his funk in countering into a cradle on the mat that he used to get a takedown and a two-point nearfall. It's to Red's credit that he was able to escape a pin there. Eierman also showed some better attacks of his own in the second period, getting in deep on Red on a level change and a single leg attack. Eierman finished the job with a slick takedown from another counter-attack in the third period. Red is a tricky opponent and Eierman looked very good in the second and third periods once he got going. He's going to be real fun to watch.
Murin looked pretty filled out up a weight at 149 lbs. He used some misdirection to get a nice takedown in the first period, but the match was tied 2-2 heading into the third after a pair of escapes from Hardy. Murin didn't get quite enough going after that initial takedown. In the third, though, he got a quick escape to start the period and got another takedown off a level change with a minute to go. Nothing too fancy or flashy, but a solid debut for Max at his new weight.
Kaleb Young looked really good in his season debut. He was active throughout the match, scoring twice in the first period, first on a takedown from a single-leg attack and a trip and later on a takedown from a standing cradle. In the second period he got a quick reversal and put Licking on his back for four nearfall points (and nearly got a pin in the process), then added another takedown later in the period from a standing cradle. In the third period, Young got another reversal, then added a final takedown later in the period. All told, it was an impressive display of offense in multiple positions from Young, who hasn't always shown such an aggressive scoring mindset.
The big news for Alex Marinelli in his first match of the year? No giant bulky knee brace! That's a welcome sight after seeing Marinelli wrestle the last few years with one leg sheathed in a brace. He narrowly avoided giving up a takedown on the edge early in the match, then got a takedown of his own late in the first period off a nice duck-under on a change of direction attack. Marinelli got a quick escape to begin the second period, then scored a takedown later in the period off a nice single-leg attack. In the third period he scored off a stalling point against Robb, then got a takedown off single-leg attack when changing levels and added a riding time point as well. Some very solid offense from Marinelli in this match.
Patrick Kennedy, a much-hyped recruit in Iowa's 2020 recruiting class, made his Iowa debut in place of Michael Kemerer at 174 -- and got thrown into the deep end against #4 Labriola. He ended up acquitting himself pretty well, too. He gave up an early takedown to Labriola, but got a quick escape. But Kennedy kept in great position throughout the match and got in on a very good attack in the second period -- only to be unable to finish and give up a takedown instead. That happened again in the third period: a good attack from Kennedy, but no finish, and a counter from Labriola that did end up in points for him. Kennedy looked good overall, but just needs to finish his attacks more cleanly. He should still be a very good wrestler for Iowa over the next several years.
I said in my preview that I expect Nelson Brands and Abe Assad to split the first few duals of the season to give both guys opportunities to prove their worth for the 184 lb starting spot. I still think that... but performances like this from Brands are going to set a very high bar for Assad to try and clear. He was absolutely tremendous in this match. First things first: he did look more filled out this year and seemed bigger at 184 than he did a year ago, which bodes well. That added size had no negative impact on his gas tank or attacking mindset, though. Brands scored in the first period after a slick go-behind and again off a single-leg from a counter. In the second period, Brands stuffed a Venz attack and scored off another go-behind. He continued to pour on the pressure in the third, too, grabbing a reversal off a switch early in the period and then adding a pair of takedowns in the final thirty seconds, plus a riding time point. He looked really, really good here -- and very comfortable at this weight. He didn't get out-horsed and didn't get worn down at all. He's going to be difficult to keep off the mat.
Last year Warner and Schultz wrestled a close match that was tied 1-1 early in the third and decided by a takedown in the third. Schultz countered a Warner attack into a takedown in that match and won 3-1. Unfortunately for Warner, history repeated itself in this match. The match was again tied 1-1 early in the third, Warner countered well off a Schultz shot in the third -- but couldn't finish. Schultz could and won the match as a result. There isn't much of a gap between Schultz and Warner, but Warner needs to find more ways to get to his offense if he's going to topple Schultz in future matches.
- Big Tony Cassioppi finished off the night with a solid 4-0 victory. He used a good single-leg attack to score a takedown in the first, then rode him out for the rest of the period. He put on a smothering ride in the second period as well, riding Lance for the entire second period. Lance actually had the better attacks in the third period, but Cassioppi displayed good defense in stymieing those attacks. This wasn't Cassioppi's finest match, but it was an easy, no-frills win.
Finally, there were a handful of bonus matches featuring other wrestlers on both teams to give them more experience and competition in this shortened season. The matches were wrestled prior to the dual meet.
|133||Tucker Sjomeling||DEC (6-2)||Cullan Schriever|
|141||Ridge Lovett||DEC (4-2)||Carter Happel|
|149||Jevon Parrish||DEC (5-3)||Zach Axmear|
|174||Myles Wilson||MAJ DEC (15-6)||Nathan Haas|
|197||Silas Allred||MAJ DEC (11-2)||Connor Corbin|
|285||Cole Davidson||DEC (3-2)||Aaron Costello|
These matches were neither televised nor streamed. Cody Goodwin has a few details from the matches on his Twitter feed.
NEXT: Iowa returns to action next Friday night, against #14 Minnesota (0-1) at 8:00 PM CT on BTN.