Do you like bonus points? Then Iowa's dual meets against Purdue and Ohio State were right up your alley on Sunday. 15 of the 20 dual meet matches ended in bonus points. There were eight pins, four in each dual. There were also five technical falls and two major decisions. There was no shortage of points on the scoreboard on Sunday.
The good news is that Iowa was the one dishing out lopsided losses most of the time; they recorded six pins (two each by Jaydin Eierman and Tony Cassioppi, plus one apiece from Spencer Lee and Michael Kemerer) and three of the five technical falls were delivered by Iowa wrestlers (two by Austin DeSanto, who continued his torrid scoring streak this season). The duals did feature more Iowa losses than we've been accustomed to seeing, but that had more to do with the composition of the lineup and more reserves getting called into action than usual (mainly for COVID purposes). Of Iowa's seven losses on Sunday, just two were suffered by regular starters (#8 Nelson Brands was upset by #18 Max Lyon at 184 lbs in the Iowa-Purdue dual and #5 Max Murin fell to #2 Sammy Sasso at 149 lbs in the Iowa-Ohio State dual). The presence of regular starters like Kaleb Young or Alex Marinelli (or having Spencer Lee wrestle twice instead of just one match) would have resulted in some even more lopsided scores. As it was, Iowa still topped 30 points in both duals and won them by an average of 16 points.
#1 Iowa 31, #18 Purdue 18
|125||#11 Devin Schroeder||TECH FALL (18-0)||Aaron Cashman||PURDUE 5-0|
|133||#4 Austin DeSanto||TECH FALL (24-8)||Jacob Rundell||TIE 5-5|
|141||#1 Jaydin Eierman||FALL (3:46)||#26 Parker Filius||IOWA 11-5|
|149||#5 Max Murin||TECH FALL (19-3)||Trey Kruse||IOWA 16-5|
|157||#7 Kendall Coleman||MAJ DEC (18-6)||Zach Axmear||IOWA 16-9|
|165||Gerrit Nijenhuis||FALL (4:26)||Joe Kelly||IOWA 16-15|
|174||#1 Michael Kemerer||FALL (3:59)||Emil Soehnlen||IOWA 22-15|
|184||#18 Max Lyon||DEC (6-1)||#8 Nelson Brands||IOWA 22-18|
|197||#3 Jacob Warner||DEC (9-5)||#17 Thomas Penola||IOWA 25-18|
|285||#3 Tony Cassioppi||FALL (2:15)||Dorian Keys||IOWA 33-18|
A few thoughts:
* The Cashman-Schroeder match at 125 was not only the first time Iowa had taken a loss at 125 this season, it was also the first time a match at 125 had gotten out of the first period. Cashman held his own against Schroeder for a bit, but eventually Schroeder got Cashman on the mat and took him on several trips to Tilt Town. It's much more fun to watch Spencer Lee do that to opponents than it is to see it done to an Iowa wrestler.
* The most interesting development for Austin DeSanto this season (beyond his calmer overall demeanor during matches) is his activity on the mat. He's looking to ride opponents and turn them for back points -- and he's having some success at it, too. That just adds more weapons to DeSanto's already-loaded offensive arsenal and makes him an even more challenging opponent to face. That said, as fun as it's been to see him steamroll lesser competition thus far, we still need to see how he fares against the top wrestlers at this weight (Fix, Micic, Bravo-Young, etc.) to see if he can really take that next step to being a national title contender.
* Watching Eierman dismantle opponents has been one of this season's most pleasant surprises. His confidence in every position is staggering to behold, almost as much as his ability to score in so many different ways. He never seems ruffled by anything his opponent is doing and he never seems to think that he can't find a way to score from a position... and he's usually right. He's as dangerous (if not moreso) on the mat than he is on his feet, his defense is world-class, and his ability to find pinning combinations is incredible. He's an absolute blast to watch every match.
* Murin hasn't been one of Iowa's most prolific bonus point scorers in his time in the lineup, but it was encouraging to see him keep the pedal pressed down throughout his match against Kruse. He didn't let when he had an easy decision or major decision secured, but kept striving for more points and a technical fall. That's exactly what we want to see.
* Backups filled in for Iowa at 157 and 165 in both matches on Sunday, with Axmear and Kelly getting the nod against Purdue. They didn't fare well. Hopefully more experience (and wrestling at more suitable weights; both guys were wrestling up a bit from their preferred weights, I believe) will lead to better results in the future.
* Iowa had just a 16-15 lead after 165 lbs and while there was little reason to be concerned about the final outcome given that Iowa was heavily favored in three of the four remaining matches, it was still good to see Michael Kemerer come out and end Iowa's losing skid in the dual in such emphatic fashion. He dominated Soehnlen with ease and did a nice job of looking for the pin when it presented itself in the second period.
* The most disappointing match for Iowa against Purdue was definitely at 184 lbs, where Nelson Brands dropped his second-straight match of the seasons, this time against fellow Iowa native Max Lyon. Once again, the main problem was Brands' inability to score from neutral. That hurt him against Illinois' Zac Braunagel last week and it hurt him again here as he again failed to record a takedown (or even any threatening attacks). Lyon blew the match open with a hard ride in the third period, exposing Brands' back to the mat for near fall points during an ill-fated escape attempt, but the damage was done in the first two periods when Brands couldn't get anything going. What happened to the aggressive, confident Brands that we saw knock off Nebraska's Taylor Venz in the first match of the season? He's been MIA the past few weeks.
* Jacob Warner started great against Penola, notching a first period takedown and taking him to his back for four near fall points, but the rest of the match was fairly disappointing. In fact, the third period was downright concerning, as Warner got dinged for stalling twice and gave up a takedown. His inability to finish the match strongly may have been related to a head knock he took in the second period, but if not, hopefully Warner learns a lesson from this match, which is that he needs to wrestle hard for seven minutes, not just three or four.
* Tony Cassioppi has been laying path of destruction through the Big Ten's heavyweight division since losing to #1 Gable Steveson a few weeks ago and that continued here with a first period pin of Kays. Cassioppi overwhelmed him from the jump and was absolutely dominant here. Not much more he can do in a match like this.
#1 Iowa 33, #11 Ohio State 14
|125||#1 Spencer Lee||FALL (1:32)||Brady Koontz||IOWA 6-0|
|133||#4 Austin DeSanto||TECH FALL (19-4)||Dylan Koontz||IOWA 11-0|
|141||#1 Jaydin Eierman||FALL (5:23)||Anthony Echemendia||IOWA 17-0|
|149||#2 Sammy Sasso||FALL (6:53)||#5 Max Murin||IOWA 17-6|
|157||#26 Elijah Cleary||DEC (4-3)||Bretli Reyna||IOWA 17-9|
|165||#6 Ethan Smith||TECH FALL (18-3)||Zach Axmear||IOWA 17-14|
|174||#1 Michael Kemerer||DEC (3-1)||#4 Kaleb Romero||IOWA 20-14|
|184||#8 Nelson Brands||DEC (3-0)||#17 Rocky Jordan||IOWA 23-14|
|197||#3 Jacob Warner||MAJ DEC (11-1)||#24 Chase Singletary||IOWA 27-14|
|285||#3 Tony Cassioppi||FALL (4:52)||#10 Tate Orndorff||IOWA 33-14|
A few thoughts:
* Spencer Lee returned to the lineup for this match and did what Spencer Lee does: takedown, tilt, pin, all in about 90 seconds. Just another blink-and-you'll-miss-it absolute evisceration of an opponent. He remains on another level than pretty much any other wrestler in college right now.
* Another match, another tech fall for Austin DeSanto. He had to work a bit harder for this one -- he didn't crack 20 points for just the second time all season and it took him the better part of all three periods to secure the tech -- but the end result was the same. DeSanto's dominance in multiple positions this year is a really positive development for him.
* Another match, another slick pin for Jaydin Eierman. His cradle is absolutely lethal and he proved it again in this match. If you get your head near your knee, watch out -- you're on the fast track to cradle city at that point. This was actually a tight, low-scoring match for most of the first two periods, though, as Eierman and Echemendia spent a lot of time trying to figure each other out. Another sign of Eierman's boundless confidence? Rather than trying to get an escape point to turn his 2-0 lead to 3-0 to start the third, he chose the top position instead, thinking he could score more points there than he could from going on bottom and getting an escape and going back to neutral. Given that transpired (cradle --> pin), he was very right. But that's a move you only make if you're supremely confident in your ability to score points from the top position... but as we've seen all year, Eierman has very good reason to be that confident in his ability to score from there. (Incidentally, I hope Echemendia is OK after that match; his knee bent in a pretty painful-looking way as Eierman was locking up the cradle for the pin.)
* Murin's loss was the first of three in a row for Iowa against Ohio State, but it was also the only one featuring a starter vs a starter -- and it featured two wrestlers ranked in the Top 5. Sasso is a difficult opponent, given his stout defense and his excellent scrambling ability. But if Murin is going to close the gap on him and beat him at some point, I think he's going to need as much experience wrestling him as possible -- so from that standpoint this match, even though it ended in a loss, was valuable for Murin. He was able to get to Sasso's legs on a handful of occasions, but struggled to finish. That's what he's going to need to work on for future encounters with Sasso: finishing quickly and cleanly when he takes shots and gets to Sasso's legs. If he doesn't do that, he exposes himself to danger -- and likely gives Sasso several opportunities to score.
* Not much to say about Reyna or Axmear's matches at 157 and 165. Both guys were again wrestling up from their preferred weights. Reyna handled himself pretty well against Cleary, though, and it will be to interesting to see how he develops at Iowa.
* Kemerer-Romero was probably the spotlight match of the dual (that or Murin-Sasso), but it didn't exactly deliver fireworks. In fact, it didn't deliver much of anything. Kemerer won 3-1 on an escape, a penalty point, and some stall calls. He seemed to be in control through the match and Romero wasn't ever really able to put Kemerer in danger, but should these two meet up in the future (which seems likely in the Big Ten or NCAA Tournament), it would be great to see Kemerer widen the gap between them -- which should start with him actually getting a takedown on Romero. But this was still an effective win nonethless.
* Nelson Brands' win over Rocky Jordan also didn't come with too many style points, but a win was what he badly needed after two straight losses. Brands came out with some more energy and a stronger approach to his attacks and was rewarded with a takedown near the end of the first period. That was much-needed after his past two defeats; the goal now is of course to build on this performance -- get more takedowns in matches, since that's almost certainly going to lead to more wins in the long run.
* Warner also had a nice rebound performance, responding from his lackluster third period in the Penola match earlier in the day with one of his better overall performances this year. He had a takedown in each period, rode well, and managed to turn those rides into near fall points as well -- that's exactly what we want to see out of Warner in a match and he delivered very well here. The more often we see this version of Warner on the mat, the better Iowa is overall.
* Finally, Tony Cassioppi continued his post-Steveson tear with another pin, his third in three matches. Tony attacked from the start in this match, stayed aggressive throughout, and got the pin late in the second period. A good capper to a very strong overall day for Tony.