We got part of Iowa wrestling's 2021-22 schedule a few weeks ago when the Big Ten portion of things was released. Now we know what the rest of it looks like. Here are the confirmed non-conference activities:
Iowa's non-conference schedule is out.— Cody Goodwin (@codygoodwin) September 27, 2021
Nov. 19 - vs. Princeton (CHA)
Nov. 27 - vs. Oregon State (CHA)
Dec. 5 - at Iowa State (Hilton)
Dec. 20-21 - National Duals (Florida)
Dec. 29-30 - Midlands (Chicago)
Feb. 12 - vs. Oklahoma State (Globe Life)
Looks like fun. Giddy up!
And here's what the full schedule looks like:
|FRI 11/19/21||PRINCETON||Iowa City, IA|
|SAT 11/27/21||#24 OREGON STATE||Iowa City, IA|
|SUN 12/5/21||#25 IOWA STATE||Ames, IA|
|MON 12/20/21||ROKFIN DUALS||Destin, FL|
|TUE 12/21/21||ROKIN DUALS||Destin, FL|
|WED 12/29/21||MIDLANDS TOURNAMENT||Hoffman Estates, IL|
|THU 12/30/21||MIDLANDS TOURNAMENT||Hoffman Estates, IL|
|FRI 1/7/22||#15 MINNESOTA||Iowa City, IA|
|SUN 1/9/22||#22 PURDUE||Iowa City, IA|
|FRI 1/14/22||#18 NORTHWESTERN||Evanston, IL|
|SUN 1/16/22||#21 ILLINOIS||Champaign, IL|
|FRI 1/21/22||#7 OHIO STATE||Columbus, OH|
|FRI 1/28/22||#4 PENN STATE||Iowa City, IA|
|SAT 2/5/22||#17 WISCONSIN||Iowa City, IA|
|SAT 2/12/22||#3 OKLAHOMA STATE (Globe Life Field)||Arlington, TX|
|SUN 2/20/22||#9 NEBRASKA||Lincoln, NE|
|SAT 3/5/22||BIG TEN TOURNAMENT||Lincoln, NE|
|SUN 3/6/22||BIG TEN TOURNAMENT||Lincoln, NE|
|THU 3/17/22||NCAA TOURNAMENT||Detroit, MI|
|FRI 3/18/22||NCAA TOURNAMENT||Detroit, MI|
|SAT 3/19/22||NCAA TOURNAMENT||Detroit, MI|
I added the preseason dual meet rankings from InterMat to give you a sense of the difficulty level of this season and, as usual, it's pretty high. All but one of Iowa's scheduled dual meet opponents (Princeton) is ranked in InterMat's preseason Top 25. Of course, most of that is from the Big Ten side of things; all eight of Iowa's scheduled league opponents are ranked in the Top 25. As ever, the Big Ten is to college wrestling what the SEC is to college football, except to an even more lopsided degree. But three of Iowa's non-league opponents -- Oregon State (#24), Iowa State (#25), and Oklahoma State (#3) -- are ranked as well.
Iowa's website calls the dual meet tournament where the Hawkeyes will be competing in December the "Rokfin Duals." They've also been called the "National Duals," which is what I used when news of the event's return came last month. They're also apparently (officially?) called the Collegiate Wrestling Duals in Niceville, FL, so y'know -- lots of names! But they all mean the same thing: two-day dual meet tournament featuring Iowa and a bunch of other very good teams from across the nation. One (pretty notable!) addition to the field I wrote about in that post, though: Michigan is out, and Penn State is in. Which does set up the possibility of not one, but TWO Iowa-Penn State dual meet throwdowns in the span of about a month this year (since there's the already-scheduled B1G showdown in Iowa City on 1/28/22). That would be pretty tasty.
As for the rest of the non-con action... the Princeton dual should be a pretty easy tune-up for Iowa out of the gate; Wrestlestat predicts a 43-3 Iowa victory, with the only Princeton win coming at 157 lbs, with Quincy Monday beating Kaleb Young. They split two meetings in the past, with Monday winning the most recent encounter ("recent" being almost two years ago, mind you). That would be one of two Top 10 showdowns in the dual (Monday is #8 and Young is #6 in InterMat's preseason rankings), with the other coming at 125 lbs and featuring #1 Spencer Lee vs #2 Patrick Glory. Lee is 2-0 against Glory, beating him via 18-2 technical fall and 12-6 decision in 2018. Glory has improved considerably since then, though, and figures to be one of the top challengers to Lee at 125 lbs this year. It would be quite a treat to get that match to get things underway in 2021, but we'll have to see if it actually happens. Glory didn't wrestle last year as the Ivy League sat out the season due to the pandemic and I expect Iowa to be cautious with Lee's usage this year, given his, uh, lack of ACLs.
The Oregon State dual may not be much more compelling overall and without the potential Top 10 showdowns, either. Wrestlestat predicts a 34-3 Iowa victory here, with OSU's lone win coming at 184 lbs, with Tanner Harvey knocking off Nelson Brands. The Beavers do have a decent contingent of ranked wrestlers, though: Devan Turner (#13 at 133), Grant Willits (#10 at 141), Hunter Willits (#15 at 157), and Tanner Harvey (#16 at 184).
The Cy-Hawk dual meet also looks like a lopsided affair. Wrestlestat has Iowa winning 33-6, with ISU getting wins at 157 (David Carr over Kaleb Young) and 184 (Marcus Coleman over Brands). Carr (#1 at 157), Jarrett Degen (#19 at 149), and Ian Parker (#9 at 141) are the only Cyclone wrestlers ranked in the Top 20 at their respective weights in InterMat's preseason rankings. Definitely a bit of a rebuilding year in Cyclone-land...
The resumption of the storied Iowa-Oklahoma State rivalry should produce a more competitive dual, though. WrestleStat pegs Iowa to win 23-12, with the Pokes scoring wins at 133 (Fix over DeSanto), 165 (Wittlake over Marinelli), 184 (Geer over Brands), and 197 (Ferrari over Warner). But several of the matches on both sides should be close and this is a dual that should produce some fireworks. Oklahoma State has an almost fully-loaded lineup of ranked wrestlers: Trevor Mastrogiovanni (#20 at 125), Daton Fix (#2 at 133), Dusty Hone (#17 at 141), Kaden Gfeller (#23 at 149), Wyatt Sheets (#14 at 157), Travis Wittlake (#6 at 165), Dustin Plott (#20 at 174), Dakota Geer (#7 at 184), AJ Ferrari (#1 at 197), and Austin Harris (#11 at 285). Iowa should be favored in 7 of 10 matches, and should have the edge in bonus points, but a few Okie State upsets could make things very interesting.
Adding to the intrigue for this dual? It's not currently planned to be at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, OK -- rather, it's planned to be part of a special event at Globe Life Field in Arlington, TX.
Iowa-Oklahoma State at Globe Life Field on February 12. Sounds like theyre trying to pair it with an international freestyle dual for the U.S., too.— Cody Goodwin (@codygoodwin) September 27, 2021
Globe Life Field is a baseball stadium; it's where the Texas Rangers play. At the very least, it should make for one hell of an interesting visual spectacle. This wouldn't be the first wrestling dual held at a baseball stadium; Arizona State hosted a quadrangular (four teams) dual meet event in early 2020 at Chase Field in Phoenix (home of the Diamondbacks). It was a neat-looking event, so it's cool to see Iowa and Oklahoma State trying to do something similar here. Globe Life Field (like Chase Field) has a roof, so the weather won't be a factor in the competition.
As Cody's tweet notes, it sounds like the plans are to pair this dual meet with a freestyle dual featuring the U.S. freestyle team (which just kicked ass at the Olympics) and an international team to be determined. That sounds like a pretty fun day of wrestling. The goal of all this is to create a special event and draw a big crowd. Accomplishing the former should be easy, but the latter could be tricky.
One of the obvious predecessors to this event was the Grapple on the Gridiron dual between Iowa and Oklahoma State back in 2015. That drew a monster crowd of 40,000 fans, but it had two big things working in its favor: it was in Iowa City, which is already a wrestling-mad area, and it piggybacked off an Iowa football game the same day that led to an extra 30-40,000 people being in the area that day. This event isn't going to have either of those factors working in its favor; I'm not aware of any intense wrestling fervor in the Dallas/Arlington area and this won't be partnered with a football game that same day. That said, it can still be a very successful event even if it doesn't draw a crowd as big as Grapple on the Gridiron. If it can draw a crowd of 20,000, it would almost certainly be the best-attended dual meet of the year.
And, honestly, regardless of what kind of crowd it can draw, it's just fun to see an event like this in the works. It's great to see wrestling coaches and college administrators thinking outside the box and experimenting with new venues and creative ways of drawing attention to the sport. That's all a big win as far as I'm concerned.
We're less than two months away from the start of the 2021-22 college wrestling season and it should be a barnburner, especially for the top-ranked and defending national champion Iowa Hawkeyes. We can't wait to take in all the action on the mat.