Well, that's a bit more like it.
Iowa won their Big Ten opener over Minnesota on Friday night, but they didn't look particularly impressive in doing so. It was a flat, lethargic performance from Iowa wrestlers at several weights; they did enough to win -- but only just. The Purdue lineup that took the mat against Iowa today wasn't as good as the Minnesota team they faced on Friday, but Iowa still showed a much better effort in steamrolling the Boilermakers 36-4. There's still work to do, but this looked more like what we hope to see from Iowa.
The Hawkeyes took nine of ten matches from the Boilermakers and broke the dual meet wide open with back-to-back-to-back-to-back bonus point wins at 149, 157, 165, and 174. After Drake Ayala got the dual meet started on a brilliant note with a 6-1 upset of #5 Devin Schroeder at 125 lbs, Purdue won their only match of the day at 133, where Matt Ramos dominated Jesse Ybarra, filling in for Austin DeSanto on the day. Iowa regained the lead with a win from Jaydin Eierman at 141 lbs, though he made very hard work of things and had to claw out a 7-6 win.
But Iowa dominated the dual meet after that. Max Murin and Kaleb Young controlled their matches at 149 and 157 from start to finish, showing strong finishing skills from neutral and (more importantly) a willingness to keep pushing for more takedowns and extend their leads. Alex Marinelli ran a takedown clinic at 165 lbs to earn a technical fall win, while Michael Kemerer dominated on the mat en route to a 17-1 technical fall of his own. The bonus points slowed down for Iowa at 184 and 197, but Abe Assad and Jacob Warner kept the wins coming in before Tony Cassioppi finished the day with an exclamation point and a first period pin.
#1 Iowa 36, #15 Purdue 4
|125||Drake Ayala||DEC (6-1)||#5 Devin Schroeder||IOWA 3-0|
|133||Matt Ramos||MAJ DEC (11-1)||Jesse Ybarra||PURDUE 4-3|
|141||#2 Jaydin Eierman||DEC (7-6)||#25 Parker Filius||IOWA 6-4|
|149||#12 Max Murin||MAJ DEC (10-2)||Trey Kruse||IOWA 10-4|
|157||#12 Kaleb Young||MAJ DEC (12-4)||Cooper Noehre||IOWA 14-4|
|165||#1 Alex Marinelli||TECH FALL (22-7)||Hayden Lohrey||IOWA 19-4|
|174||#2 Michael Kemerer||TECH FALL (17-1)||#21 Garrett Nijenhuis||IOWA 24-4|
|184||#18 Abe Assad||DEC (6-3)||#23 Max Lyon||IOWA 27-4|
|197||#5 Jacob Warner||DEC (3-0)||#15 Thomas Penola||IOWA 30-4|
|285||#6 Tony Cassioppi||FALL (1:14)||Michael Woulfe||IOWA 36-4|
A few thoughts:
This was a really huge win for Drake Ayala. He was close in his losses against Pat McKee, but he got over the hump in decisive fashion here, using a pair of crisp takedowns, a strong ride, and a stalling point to earn a 6-1 win over Schroeder. Ayala beat the #5-ranked guy at 125 lbs and it didn't look like a fluke -- he just looked better than Schroeder. It's going to be a lot of fun to watch Ayala go through the learning curve in an Iowa singlet over the next few months.
Austin DeSanto got the day off at 133 lbs (he didn't look especially sharp on Friday night, so maybe a day off will get re-energize him), with Jesse Ybarra filling in for him. Unfortunately, things didn't go well for Ybarra against Ramos, especially after Ramos took him to his back at the end of the first period; that opened up a 6-0 hole that was going to be all-but-impossible for Ybarra to get out of, especially with his inability really trouble Ramos from neutral here. Better days ahead for Ybarra, no doubt.
Outside of Ybarra's loss at 133, the only real sour note for Iowa today was Jaydin Eierman's performance at 141 lbs. He hopped out to a 2-0 lead with a quick takedown and put on a good ride, but things went downhill after that. He wasn't able to turn that ride into near fall points or a pin and once Filius and Eierman traded reversals in the second period it felt like a different, very even match. Eierman was never really able to re-assert control of the match, not really get his offense going at all; by the end he was very clearly just hanging on and trying to win by the riding time point he'd secured. It would be easier to excuse this if we hadn't seen similar showings in matches from him earlier this season; Eierman has just looked off at times this season and it's definitely a bit of a concern as the postseason nears.
Murin has wrestled a lot of close, one-move matches, so it was nice for him to take the mat against an opponent that he could cut loose on offense a bit more. He took advantage of that and showed good finishing against Kruse, as well as some strong rides. Hopefully this gives him a bit more confidence moving forward.
Speaking of guys needing confidence, Kaleb Young really needed a boost after some of his recent results and he got one here against Noehre. Certainly not the toughest competition, but sometimes you need a breather and it was good to see Young stay active and engaged on offense and continue working for takedowns and a major decision. That attitude will serve him well in other matches, too.
Alex Marinelli had a few ho-hum results heading into today's dual, but he kicked out the cobwebs in really good fashion with a slew of takedowns. The Bull used his full arsenal of attacks from neutral, as well as a fairly relentless tempo, to dominate his opponent and earn a technical fall win. He wasn't able to get much going on the mat and get a pin, but it was nice to see the return of takedown clinic Marinelli, too -- we hadn't seen that guy for a bit.
Michael Kemerer wrestled his second match of the season and after a cagey match through most of two periods, he absolutely blew the match wide open with a cradle near the end of the second period. He turned that into four near fall points, then re-positioned Nijenhuis and got another four near fall points before the period ended. Another quick tilt for four near fall points in the third period locked up the technical fall; this match was a nice reminder of just how good Kemerer can be in all positions. He's such a good wrestler; hopefully he can stay healthy enough the rest of the season to end his Iowa career on a high note.
Abe Assad grabbed another win for Iowa with a 6-3 win over Iowa native Max Lyon. This was just a very solid showing for Assad; he got a takedown in the first period to grab the early lead, then added an escape, a riding time point and another takedown to extend his lead. He looked good throughout the match and is showing nice signs of improvement.
Jacob Warner's win at 197 lacked much in the way of excitement or action, but... a win's a win, right? He showed good defense at points and came out on top in a wild scramble to get the match's only takedown. He put on a good ride after that to finish out the victory.
- Finally, Tony Cassioppi bounced back from his lopsided loss to Gable Steveson on Friday with an emphatic first period pin here. He rolled through Woulfe with a quick takedown and then horsed him over for a pin less than two minutes into the bout. There was a scary moment when Woulfe went limp as Cassioppi was rolling him into the pin and then stayed motionless for a minute or two after the match ended. But he did get up on his own and was able to leave the mat under his own power, which was good.
Purdue was overmatched against this Iowa team, but that hasn't always meant a lot this season, with Iowa wrestlers too often scuffling to unimpressive results. By and large, that was not the case here -- they dominated the matches they were supposed to, were able to grind out wins in the closer matchups, and even got a big-time upset from a true freshman in Drake Ayala at 125 lbs. That's a good day at the office and a much better showing than what we saw on Friday.
NEXT: Iowa heads on the road to face Northwestern on Friday, January 14 (7 PM CT, TV/streaming TBA).