#1 Iowa 35, #11 Minnesota 4: Border Beatdown

By RossWB on January 23, 2021 at 2:56 am
Big Ten Network

New week, new venue, new opponent -- same result. Iowa's top-ranked wrestling team took their dominant lineup on the road for the first time this season, visiting #11 Minnesota in Minneapolis, and came away with another thoroughly lopsided victory, 35-4. Iowa won the first nine bouts of the match and was so dominant that Minnesota didn't even record their first takedown of the meet until the eighth match of the night (184 lbs). 

This dual meet looked like a mismatch on paper and it proved to be every bit a mismatch in reality. Iowa's lineup is stocked with upperclassmen, many of whom are at or near the top of their respective weights; six of Iowa's ten starters are ranked third or better. Minnesota's lineup is full of young wrestlers, most of whom are in the fringes of the Top 20, or outside it altogether. Iowa has three wrestlers ranked #1; Minnesota has three wrestlers ranked in the Top 10, period. That's a recipe for a bludgeoning and this Iowa team isn't one to disappoint in that regard. When they have an advantage, they press it ruthlessly and they did it in match after match tonight. 

#1 Iowa 35, #11 Minnesota 4

125 #1 Spencer Lee FALL (1:53) #9 Patrick McKee IOWA 6-0
133 #5 Austin DeSanto TECH FALL (21-2) #20 Boo Dryden IOWA 11-0
141 #1 Jaydin Eierman MAJ DEC (22-9) Marcos Polanco IOWA 15-0
149 #6 Max Murin DEC (5-1) #17 Michael Blockhus IOWA 18-0
157 #7 Kaleb Young DEC (4-3 OT) #6 Brayton Lee IOWA 21-0
165 #2 Alex Marinelli DEC (8-4) #16 Andrew Sparks IOWA 24-0
174 #1 Michael Kemerer MAJ DEC (12-3) #16 Jake Allar IOWA 28-0
184 #6 Nelson Brands DEC (10-6) Isaiah Salazar IOWA 31-0
197 #3 Jacob Warner MAJ DEC (13-2) #31 Garrett Joles IOWA 35-0
285 #1 Gable Steveson MAJ DEC (15-6) #3 Tony Cassioppi IOWA 35-4

The stats for this dual are, frankly, NSFW: 

Iowa had 34 takedowns; Minnesota had seven, with most of them coming via a flurry from Gable Steveson in the final match of the night. 28 of Minnesota's 44 total points came via escapes, many of which are conceded by Iowa wrestlers -- so that they could get back on the attack and record more takedowns. While Iowa wrestlers were proficient on their feet, they also did plenty of damage on the mat, racking up 24 nearfall points. Their aggression also forced Minnesota into five stall points. Finally, Minnesota scored four team points -- three Iowa wrestlers (Eierman, Kemerer, and Warner) scored that many by themselves, while two Iowa wrestlers (DeSanto and Lee) scored more than four points just in their own matches. 

As far as the matches... 

  • Spencer Lee has wrestled twice this season -- he hasn't gotten out of the first period in either match. I don't think the words exist to describe how good Lee is. "Dominant" feels woefully lacking. It actually took Lee 30 seconds to record a takedown -- but he took McKee immediately to his back for four nearfall points. And then he took McKee on a tour of Tilt Town, locking McKee in his traditional arm bar and tilting him for three different four-point nearfalls before settling in and sticking McKee to the mat for a pin. In 1:53. "I've run out of adjectives [to describe Lee]," said Shane Sparks on commentary. We all have. He is simply otherworldly. 
  • Austin DeSanto again provided the second half of the best-in-the-sport 1-2 punch that he and Lee have provided for the last few years. Dryden presented a unique physical challenge -- there aren't many 6-foot 133 pounders in the sport and he's all arms and legs. DeSanto came out on top in a pair of dumps in the first half and also racked up a pair of two-point nearfalls to open up an 8-1 lead after the first period. The most impressive thing about this match might have been DeSanto's scoring prowess on the mat. He's been dynamic on his feet since he got to Iowa, but if he can also score points in bunches of the mat, he becomes an even more difficult opponent to beat. He racked up another takedown and a four-point nearfall in the second period, before adding a penalty point, another takedown, and a final four-point nearfall in the third period. In the past DeSanto would have needed to rack up 9-10 takedowns to score 20+ points in a match -- he scored 21 points here on just four takedowns. Again, if DeSanto can consistently score points on the mat, he becomes really tough to beat at 133 lbs.
  • While DeSanto didn't deliver the takedown clinic that we might have delivered, Eierman provided just that at 141 lbs. He showed off the variety in his attacks in this match, scoring via blast double-leg takedown, a slick go-behind, a scramble off a cartwheel (!), a duck-under, a counter off a Polanco shot, another blast double, a slide-by, another go-behind/level-change, another scramble off another Polanco shot, and a final counter off a Polanco shot. That's 10 -- count 'em 10 -- takedowns. Now that's a takedown clinic. Eierman's ability to score from all angles and at nearly every position makes him a very dangerous opponent for anyone at 141 lbs. 
  • Max Murin added a workmanlike win for Iowa at 149. The first period was mostly uneventful, but Murin went low for a double-leg takedown in the final seconds of the period to get a key takedown. He added an escape in the second period and a takedown in the third period off a counter-shot. It would be nice to see a bit more activity from Murin and maybe some attacks from different angles, but he got the job done in no-frills fashion. 
  • 157 looked like the closest match of the dual on paper and it lived up to that prediction on the mat. Lee and Young entered the match ranked #6 and #7, respectively, and the only thing that's likely to change in the next set of rankings is the order. The first period featured a lot of hand-fighting, although Lee picked up a penalty point during a scramble thanks to an illegal head-scissors hold from Young. Young evened the match with an escape in the second, before Lee went ahead 2-1 with an escape of his own in the third. Young took the lead at 3-2 in the third with a whip-over on a counter to a shot from Lee. Lee got in deep on Young's leg late in the third, but Young was able to turn it into a scramble situation and take the match into overtime. Neither Young nor Lee could get through each other's defense in the sudden victory period. In the first set of ride-outs, Young got a quick escape on Lee to go up 4-3, then put on a fierce ride in the other tiebreaker period, including a pair of thunderous mat return, to lock up the victory. Young and Lee appear to be two very evenly-matched opponents.
  • Marinelli kept the wins rolling for Iowa at 165 with a win that's probably best described as "methodical." The Bull picked up a pair of takedowns off single-leg attacks in the first period, but couldn't add a third until the third period off another single-leg attack. Sparks never really threatened to score on Marinelli, but he did a good job of stymieing The Bull's attacks for much of the match and getting escapes. 
  • Michael Kemerer made his slightly delayed debut to the 2021 season in this dual and he picked up pretty close to where he left off last year. Kemerer exploded into a takedown on the edge of the mat for his first points of the match, then got a second takedown off a single-leg attack from his knees. He grabbed a pair of escape points in the second and a stall point, then added another takedown on a counter to an Allar shot. Kemerer finished off the scoring in the third with a takedown off an impressive counter on the edge of the mat and a riding time point. Nothing too fancy from Kemerer here, but a nice, comfortable win to get things started. 
  • Nelson Brands had one of the most eye-popping results of the dual last week, but he had to work for his win this week. He got in deep on Salazar's leg to start the match and finished the takedown after a lengthy battle, but immediately let Salazar up -- and then gave a up a takedown (Minnesota's first of the dual meet) a few moments later. Brands got a big escape with moments left in the first to tie the match at 3-3. Brands got another escape to start the second, then kept on the attack, finally picking up another takedown on the edge of the mat, then getting another on a duck-under into a single-leg attack and finishing his attack quickly. Brands added one more takedown to secure the victory off a scramble late in the third. This win wasn't as dominant as his victory over Venz last week, but he responded well to getting an unexpected challenge from Salazar and stayed on the attack throughout the match, which was rewarded with some key takedowns in the second and third periods. 
  • Jacob Warner got his first win of the year, though it wasn't always pretty. Warner was cautious for much of the first period, but finally scored off a good double-leg takedown late in the period. Warner pushed the tempo in the second period and was rewarded with a quick escape and a takedown off an ankle pick, then added another takedown on the edge of the mat. Warner added his third takedown of the second period on a quick go-behind. Warner added one final takedown late in the third, countering a bad shot from Joles, to finish off the major decision victory. 
  • The question we had before the meet at 285 was whether Tony Cassioppi had been able to narrow the gap on Gable Steveson after losing to him twice last year. The answer? A definitive "no." In fact, the gap has gotten larger. Steveson scored early and often on Cassioppi -- and found another gear in the third period, pouring on the attacks and being rewarded with some rapid-fire takedowns. Meanwhile, for his part, Cassioppi never got very close to scoring on Steveson and he struggled to slow down either the Gopher giant's strength or quickness. He's going to have to go back to the drawing board before his next match with Steveson, but I'm not really sure what an effective gameplan might look like. Cassioppi just looked outclassed here. 

The dual ended on a down note thanks to Steveson bulldozing Cassioppi, but this was still a very good dual for Iowa. They were expected to roll here -- and roll they did. But it never gets old to see Iowa stomp the Gophers. 

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