Real Woods Transfers To Iowa Wrestling

By RossWB on April 6, 2022 at 2:11 pm
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The Iowa wrestling lineup has featured a lot of familiar faces over the past few years and while the NCAA's extra COVID year of eligibility permitted those familiar faces even one additional year in Iowa City, eventually change was going to have to come to the Iowa lineup. And change will be present in a big way in the 2022-23 lineup, with five starters from this past season graduating. One of those absences is at 141 lbs, but over the weekend Iowa secured a significant addition at that weight via the transfer portal: 

Woods comes to Iowa via Stanford (he's reportedly already completed his undergraduate degree there) and has two years of eligibility remaining. At 141 pounds, he'll replace Jaydin Eierman, who was himself a high-profile transfer to Iowa a few years ago -- and a key factor in Iowa's national championship in 2021. 

At Stanford, Woods went 42-8 in three years of competition. All eight of his defeats have been against eventual All-Americans. In 2019-20, Woods went 19-1 as a redshirt freshman and earned a 3-seed in the NCAA Tournament that was eventually canceled due to COVID concerns. In 2020-21, Woods was limited due to injuries and went just 6-3, including 2-2 in the NCAA Tournament. He won his first two matches before losing in the quarterfinals and the Round of 12 to fall just short of All-America status. This year Woods went 17-1 in the regular season and earned a 4-seed at the NCAA Tournament. He won his first three matches by a combined score of 32-0 before losing to 1-seed (and eventual champion) Nick Lee in the semifinals, 3-2. He also lost both matches in the consolation bracket, including a 3-2 loss to 3-seed Sebastian Rivera and a 7-3 loss to 6-seed Cole Matthews in the 5th place match. That final defeat locked up a sixth-place finish for Woods -- a mildly disappointing result given the way his season (and his first three matches at NCAAs) had gone, but still the first All-America finish of his career. 

Woods' move to Iowa gives the Hawkeys an immediate challenger at a weight that looks wide open next year. Penn State's Nick Lee, the two-time defending national champion at 141, has used up his eligibility. The other top two finishers at 141, Rivera and North Carolina's Kizhan Clarke, have also exhausted their eligibility. With Eierman also departing, that clears the decks for a new wave of challengers to vie for a championship at 141 next year. Woods ought to be well-positioned to be one of those championship challengers. 

The addition of Woods to Iowa's roster was not without consequences, though. 

Wyatt Henson was a key member of Iowa's 2021 recruiting class. He went 18-2 and earned titles at the Cyclone Open, Lindenwood Open, and Luther Open while redshirting this season, with bonus points in 55% of his victories. He was the heavy favorite to replace Eierman in Iowa's lineup next season, but the arrival of Woods obviously complicates things. Rather than wait a few more years to enter the Iowa lineup, he's opted to enter the transfer portal instead and seek a home with another team. We can certainly understand and respect that decision; we wish him well in his future exploits. 

I think Iowa's decision to add Woods while having Henson comes down to wanting to maximize their championship opportunity next season. Next year's Iowa lineup is set to include three returning All-Americans in Spencer Lee, Jacob Warner, and Tony Cassioppi, two of whom are past NCAA finalists (or three-time NCAA champions, in Lee's case). Adding Woods provides immediate high-level firepower for Iowa next season. Henson has strong potential, but may not be an immediate NCAA finalist (or All-American) next season; Woods very much has the potential to provide that sort of instant impact for the Hawkeyes. 

I'll be back tomorrow with a deeper look-ahead at Iowa's potential lineup next season. In the meantime: welcome to Iowa, Real Woods. We're thrilled to see what you can do in black and gold. 

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