If this was a baseball game, you could probably recap it like this: Iowa's starting pitching got roughed up a little at the start, but settled down after that and prevented Oklahoma State's hitters from doing much of anything through the middle of the game, while Iowa's batters produced a steady supply of singles and doubles to push some runs across the plate and build a solid lead, before the bats really caught fire and padded the score against some overmatched relievers from the Cowboys' bullpen late in the game. In terms of a wrestling dual, Iowa dropped the first two bouts of the meet, then rattled off five straight wins best described as "solid" and "methodical" to build a lead that the Cowboys wouldn't be able to catch. Okie State got a win back at 184, before Iowa turned on the style points with bonus point wins in the final two matches.
The results of this dual meet were perfectly chalk -- the favored/higher-ranked wrestler won at all ten weights. That's perfectly fine if you have the better team and there was little doubt that the Hawkeyes had the better team than the Cowboys tonight. This wasn't the most thrilling dual: there were no upsets and no bonus points at all until the final two matches, and outside of 125 (where Mastrogiovanni picked up the winning takedown with two seconds to spare), there wasn't that much drama at the end of the matches, either. In baseball parlance the first-ever Bout at the Ballpark (held at the Texas Rangers' Globe Life Field in Arlington, TX) wasn't a grand slam, but at least for Iowa the result was a solid home run. They controlled the action after those early hiccups in the dual and ended up earning a pretty comfortable win in the process.
#2 Iowa 23, #12 Oklahoma State 9
|125||#7 Trevor Mastrogiovanni||DEC (6-5)||Jesse Ybarra||OKIE ST 3-0|
|133||#2 Daton Fix||DEC (5-3)||#3 Austin DeSanto||OKIE ST 6-0|
|141||#2 Jaydin Eierman||DEC (6-1)||#21 Carter Young||OKIE ST 6-3|
|149||#10 Max Murin||DEC (5-2)||#13 Kaden Gfeller||TIE 6-6|
|157||#12 Kaleb Young||DEC (4-1)||#18 Wyatt Sheets||IOWA 9-6|
|165||#5 Alex Marinelli||DEC (3-2)||#8 Travis Wittlake||IOWA 12-6|
|174||#2 Michael Kemerer||DEC (6-1)||#10 Dustin Plott||IOWA 15-6|
|184||#11 Dakota Geer||DEC (9-2)||#15 Abe Assad||IOWA 15-9|
|197||#4 Jacob Warner||MAJ DEC (11-3)||Gavin Stika||IOWA 19-9|
|285||#4 Tony Cassioppi||MAJ DEC (9-1)||#31 Luke Surber||IOWA 23-9|
A few thoughts:
- Mastrogiovanni was questionable to wrestle in this dual and he didn't seem 100% at all -- he favored his leg on several occasions and looked a bit gimpy at times. Ybarra was thisclose to an upset and his first-ever win over a Top 10-ranked wrestler after picking up two takedowns earlier in the match, but he couldn't maintain a strong defensive posture late in the match and gave up two scores to Mastrogiovanni, including the winning takedown with just seconds to go in the match. That was disappointing, but this was still a pretty good outing overall for Ybarra, given that he struggled to score against ranked opponents at this weight earlier in the year.
- Much like Roman Bravo-Young (the #1 guy at 133) over the last few years, Daton Fix (#2 at 133) remains a puzzle that Austin DeSanto has yet to figure out how to solve. He pushed the tempo well here, but he couldn't convert that into actual points -- or even too many scoring opportunities. DeSanto seemed leery of being too aggressive and allowing Fix to use that aggression against him and turn it into his own scoring opportunities. That said, if he's ever going to beat Fix, DeSanto is going to have to figure out some ways to take (and finish) shots on Fix -- easier said than done, of course.
- Eierman got Iowa on the board with their first win of the dual meet, though it didn't offer much in the way of fireworks. Takedowns in the first and third for Eierman sandwiched a second period ride-out of Young. Eierman ended up with a mountain of riding time and spent a long time trying to turn Young for near fall points (to no avail). Then again, after some of Eierman's heart-in-throat wins earlier in the season, a very comfortable win is not a bad thing at all.
- 149 felt like a pivotal match in the dual. While Iowa was favored in most of the matches here, they were far from overwhelming favorites at 149, 157, and 165, which all figured to be low-scoring encounters decided by 1-2 moves. If Oklahoma State could get the decisive takedowns in those bouts, they could swing the results their way and seize control of the dual meet. Max Murin wasn't about to let that happen. Murin got a takedown in the first to grab an early lead, though he gave it away by giving up a pretty quick reversal to Gfeller. A hard-fought escape late in the period gave Murin a 3-2 lead after the first period. In the second, Murin took a page out of Eierman's playbook and simply rode the bejesus out of Gfeller. There's really no other way to describe that ride-out other than "tenacious." Murin simply refused to concede an escape and he stayed glued to Gfeller for the entire period. He added an escape of his own in the third period and kept Gfeller away from his legs in the third period to secure the win. Murin's win tied the dual at 6-6 and really seemed to energize the Iowa side.
- Young followed Murin's win at 149 with another very solid grind-em-out win at 157. This was pretty much a Kaleb Young special: 0-0 first period, escape and takedown in the second, followed by some hard riding of his own. What it lacked in flash, it made up for in effectiveness as Young showed strong defense against a tricky opponent and picked up a victory that gave Iowa their first lead in the dual meet.
- Alex Marinelli was tasked with keeping Iowa's momentum rolling out of intermission and he managed to do that, although not in the most emphatic way possible. An early score off a strong burst that led to a double-leg takedown suggested we might see a more aggressive, point-scoring Marinelli, but that wasn't really the case. That takedown and a third period escape were all the points Marinelli managed in this bout. The Bull showed off his customary good positioning and strong defense and he was poised to take advantage of any mistakes by Wittlake, but he didn't do a lot to aggressively add to his own point total. We've seen that approach bite him before (and recently), so it does make me a bit nervous when he wrestles like that, but a win is what Iowa needed and a win is what he provided.
- I don't know if there was a competition on the Iowa team to see who could rack up the most riding time in this dual, but if there was, "Grandpa" Mike Kemerer probably won that award. He turned Dustin Plott into his own personal bearskin rug for most of this match; it's not often you get to secure a riding time point with plenty of time to spare in the second period. Kemerer manages to make "workmanlike" look overwhelming at times; his takedowns are methodical masterpieces -- when he gets his hands on your leg, it's generally just a matter of time before you're giving up two points. And as a rider, he's absolutely smothering (not to mention being rather proficient at tilts, though he wasn't able to get any back points here). Plott is a good wrestler and Kem just took his lunch money for seven minutes in this match.
- If there was a disappointment for Iowa in this dual, it was definitely 184. I didn't think Ybarra could beat Mastrogiovanni and I was hardly surprised that Fix beat DeSanto (again). I did think Geer was a favorite over Assad at this weight, but not overwhelmingly so. Oops. As it turned out, Geer absolutely overwhelmed Assad in this match and only a desperate Assad escape with seconds remaining in the third kept this loss to a regular decision. Geer got a takedown in each period and dominated Assad in every position in this match. Before this match, it didn't seem like Geer and Assad were very far apart, competitively speaking; now it feels like they're as far apart as much of the crowd was from the mat at this dual meet. Let's hope it was just a bad night at the proverbial plate for Abe; there's been chatter about him as a dark horse All-America contender at 184, but performances like this won't sniff the podium next month.
- Fortunately, a pick-me-up for Iowa arrived in the very next match, courtesy of the high-scoring... Jacob Warner? Strange but true! Warner would probably not be anyone's pick to score the first bonus points of a dual, but he took advantage of a match against an undersized backup here. You don't often see Warner cut opponents and try to score more, but that's exactly what he did here -- and it worked! Warner was able to ride Stika with ease, but he went after multiple takedowns in the second and third periods and managed to get enough to lock up a major decision. No complaints here; it was very good to see Warner not content to just get an easy 4-0 win and actively try to get multiple takedowns and earn bonus points here.
- Finally, Tony Cassioppi polished off the dual with even more bonus points, courtesy of a 9-1 major decision of his own. Surber was a slippery opponent with some strong scrambling skills who caused some real problems for Cassioppi in the first period, but once Tony was able to get that first takedown and go to work on top, he was able to fully control the match. He added a few more takedowns, a stall point, and a riding time point in the second and third periods to extend his advantage and ultimately earn the major decision.
Iowa has now beaten Oklahoma State in a basketball arena, in a football stadium, and in a baseball stadium. Time for the Hawkeyes and Cowboys to do battle on an ice rink? I haven't seen any reports from people who attended this dual meet, but it seemed like an awkward set-up, with most of the seats far away from the mats on the baseball diamond. The announced crowd was a bit more than 12,000; that's good in terms of most dual meets and good for a neutral site several hundred miles from either team's campus... but also below what either of these teams could have done in terms of attendance for a dual in their home arenas. Couple that attendance figure with the fact that the dual was only broadcast behind a (very expensive) paywall and the wrestling outreach efforts of this event seem like a mixed success, at best.
This win gives Iowa a second-straight win over Oklahoma State (as well as their sixth in their last eight duals against the 'Pokes) and also continued the state of Iowa's absolute mastery of the Cowboys this season.
UNI 19, Oklahoma State 15
ISU 20, Oklahoma State 12
Iowa 23, Oklahoma State 9
For the second time ever, Oklahoma State got swept by the three major schools in Iowa. GO IOWA AWESOME indeed.
NEXT: Iowa wraps up the regular season with a trip to Lincoln to face #8 Nebraska (5-4, 2-4 Big Ten) on Sunday, February 20 (6 PM CT, BTN).