(Ed. Note -- Apologies for not getting a preview or How To Watch post up for these duals. Things have been... hectic. If you're interested in watching tonight's dual meet -- Iowa vs NC State (5 PM CT) -- it's on Rokfin. You need to subscribe to Rokfin (minimum rate is $9.99/month) and also purchase the Collegiate Wrestling Duals event ($10). You do get access to all of Rokfin's wrestling content with a subscription, though if you're only interested in Iowa, $20 is a fairly steep price for just three duals.)
Teams from across the country converged on Niceville, FL for the first day of a two-day event on Monday and while this is a dual meet competition featuring teams from across the nation, it is not -- officially, at least -- National Duals. For one thing, the NWCA owns the name "National Duals." For another, National Duals (usually) featured bracketed competition leading to a single champion. This event -- officially the Collegiate Wrestling Duals -- instead features teams siloed into four different pools, with each team wrestling three other teams and competing in a mini-bracket in each pool. So while Iowa and Penn State are both competing at this event, there's no chance of them facing each other here.
Iowa was placed in a pool with Central Michigan and Lehigh, with the winner of a round robin competition between those teams facing the winner (tonight) of a pool featuring NC State, Missouri, and Binghamton). NC State won their pod, so that's who Iowa will face tonight (5 PM CT). As for how Iowa got there...
The good news is that Iowa's team is continuing to look a bit more like the full strength roster we envisioned before the season began; Spencer Lee and Abe Assad made their dual meet debuts for Iowa (and Lee made his debut, period) on Monday and while Michael Kemerer did not wrestle yesterday, he did weigh in, suggesting that his return to the mat is very close. The bad news is that even with a near-full strength roster, Iowa's performances weren't always sharp, especially in their second dual of the night, against Lehigh.
#1 Iowa 44, Central Michigan 0
|125||#1 Spencer Lee||TECH FALL (17-0)||Brock Bergelin||IOWA 5-0|
|133||#3 Austin DeSanto||TECH FALL (16-1)||Vince Perez||IOWA 10-0|
|141||#2 Jaydin Eierman||DEC (13-12)||#7 Dresden Simon||IOWA 13-0|
|149||#8 Max Murin||MAJ DEC (14-5)||Corbyn Munson||IOWA 17-0|
|157||#8 Kaleb Young||DEC (6-0)||#19 Johnny Lovett||IOWA 20-0|
|165||#1 Alex Marinelli||DQ (stalling; 5:46)||Tracy Hubbard||IOWA 26-0|
|174||Nelson Brands||DEC (8-3)||Bret Fedewa||IOWA 29-0|
|184||Abe Assad||FALL (2:22)||Ben Cushman||IOWA 35-0|
|197||#7 Jacob Warner||DEC (9-4)||Aaron Bolo||IOWA 38-0|
|285||#6 Tony Cassioppi||INJ DEF (2:25)||#9 Matt Stencel||IOWA 44-0|
#1 Iowa 28, #17 Lehigh 7
|125||#1 Spencer Lee||MAJ DEC (8-0)||#11 Jaret Lane||IOWA 4-0|
|133||#3 Austin DeSanto||TECH FALL (20-5)||Satoshi Abe||IOWA 9-0|
|141||#2 Jaydin Eierman||DEC (8-3)||Connor McGonagel||IOWA 12-0|
|149||#30 Manzona Bryant||DEC (7-5 SV)||#8 Max Murin||IOWA 12-3|
|157||#10 Josh Humphreys||MAJ DEC (11-2)||#8 Kaleb Young||IOWA 12-7|
|165||#1 Alex Marinelli||DEC (6-2)||Brian Meyer||IOWA 15-7|
|174||Nelson Brands||DEC (3-2)||Jake Logan||IOWA 18-7|
|184||Abe Assad||MAJ DEC (16-5)||AJ Burkhart||IOWA 22-7|
|197||#7 Jacob Warner||DEC (6-1)||JT Davis||IOWA 25-7|
|285||#6 Tony Cassioppi||DEC (3-2)||#8 Jordan Wood||IOWA 28-7|
A few thoughts...
Spencer Lee looked solid, albeit a bit rusty in his first action of the year. He was his usual nasty self on top, taking his opponents on several unwelcome visits to Tilt Town and racking up near fall points in the process. He had some good attacks from neutral as well and seemed fine overall, though not quite up to the preposterous standards that he's set with his previous performances. Neither Bergelin nor Lane are elite opponents, though Lane is at least a fringe All-America contender.
One Iowa wrestler showing no signs of rust or let-up? Austin DeSanto, who mowed through both of his opponents en route to technical falls. While tech fall wins are nothing new for DeSanto, they've usually been the result of rapid-fire takedown clinics, but against Perez DeSanto showed off some Lee-style mat domination, tilting his opponent all over the mat. That's a welcome new weapon in his arsenal.
Eierman's match against Simon raised some eyebrows, but it's probably nothing to be too concerned about -- Simon is a solid opponent and he also benefited from some slightly, uh, dubious officiating. (He caught Eierman and took him down for a quick four near fall points and then picked up four more near fall points, even though it very much looked like he never released the original hold.) Eierman roared back with a six-point move of his own and edged the match the rest of the way; hopefully he has a better idea of what to expect from Simon if he meets him again down the road.
Murin's loss to Bryant also raised some eyebrows and while Bryant is a talented wrestler with some good results so far this season (he beat Penn State's Beau Bartlett), he's also been inconsistent (he's lost twice this year to Central Michigan's Munson). You'd rather not see a wrestler as experienced as Murin taking losses like this. Murin struggled to get to his offense early and paid for it late.
The only other Iowa loss on Monday came at 157, where Kaleb Young got walloped by Lehigh's Humphreys. Humphreys took him down and went to work, stretching Young all over the mat. Humphreys is a solid opponent, but he's the sort of guy Young is likely going to need to defeat in a Round of 12 situation to finish on the podium in March; results like this don't inspire a ton of confidence.
Marinelli went 2-0 for Iowa at 165, earning a DQ via stalling points in his first match and then coasting to a 6-2 win in his second bout. The Bull is a steady, reliable performer for Iowa and while his matches are sometimes a little too close for comfort, they end in wins the vast majority of the time; his season is going to be defined by what happens in March.
In Kemerer's continued absence at 174, Nelson Brands again filled in and picked up a pair of decision wins in the process. Brands looked decent, but Iowa really needs the high-end scoring potential that Kemerer provides at this weight. Hopefully he makes his season debut soon.
The most pleasant surprise for Iowa from yesterday may have been Abe Assad, who finally made his dual meet debut (he'd wrestled in a tournament and some bonus matches previously) and wasted no time in staking his claim to be the starter at 184 lbs. He mowed through both of his opponents, downing his first opponent with a first period pin and his second with a comfortable major decision victory. There was a fire and an aggressive, attacking mindset in Abe's wrestling that hasn't always been visible in the past; here's to hoping it's a sign of good things to come for him.
The Warner matches at 197 were pretty unsurprising: solid, controlled decision wins. Given how much better he appeared to be than the opposition you would have liked to see him push things more and go for bonus points, but we've also been beating that drum for a few years now.
- Finally, Tony Cassioppi had the toughest draw of the day by far, facing two Top 10 opponents, but he ended up boosting his resume with a pair of quality wins. His first win took only a few minutes, as he scored a takedown on a hobbled Stencel, who opted not to continue and further aggravate a nagging hamstring injury. His second win, over Lehigh's Wood, was much more of a grind and it wasn't secured until he scored a takedown with under 30 seconds to go in the third period. Overall, though, a very strong outing for Big Tony on Monday.
NEXT: Iowa takes on #6 NC State later tonight (5 PM CT)