Sweet 66: Iowa Wrestling Wins Again, Beats Iowa State 22-13

Iowa's 40-match winning streak ended with the very first match of this evening's heated rivalry tilt with Iowa State, as Iowa State's Jerome Ward used an OT takedown to get ISU's upset bid started on the right foot.  That was the only Iowa streak that ended tonight, though.  They continued their six-meet winning streak against Iowa State, as well as their 28-meet home winning streak and their 66-meet overall winning streak.  They haven't lost a meet against anyone since 2008 and they haven't lost to Iowa State since 2004 -- not too fucking shabby.  In this week of discontent with Iowa athletics, it's nice to to know that at least one team can still win.

Coming into the meet, the big question was how Iowa's inexperienced roster would handle the intense pressure of a big-time dual against a quality opponent.  And the answer?  For the most part, they handled it very well.  Iowa State's far from a great team -- they have utterly gaping holes at a few weights -- but they're a big step up in quality from the teams Iowa had been pulverizing in the opening few weeks of the season.  After dropping the opening match of the dual to ISU, Iowa wrestlers won five of the next six matches and picked up bonus points in three of them, which effectively sealed up yet another Iowa win.

197: Jerome Ward DEC (5-3 OT) Luke Lofthouse (ISU, 3-0)
HWT: Blake Rasing DEC (2-0) Simonson (TIE, 3-3)
125: #1 Matt McDonough MAJ DEC (14-4) Patrick Hunter  (IOWA, 7-3)
133: Tony Ramos MAJ DEC (14-5) Brandon Jones (IOWA, 11-3)
141: Mark Ballweg DEC (3-1) #11 Chris Drouin (IOWA, 14-3)
149: #16 Nate Carr, Jr. MAJ DEC (13-3) Jeret Chiri (IOWA, 14-7)
157: #9 Derek St. John MAJ DEC (12-3) Trent Weatherman (IOWA, 18-7)
165: #16 Andrew Sorenson DEC (4-1) #15 Jake Kerr (IOWA, 18-10)
174: #3 Jon Reader DEC (6-1) #20 Ethen Lofthouse (IOWA, 18-13)
184: #7 Grant Gambrall MAJ DEC (12-3) Cole Shafer (IOWA, 22-13)

There are no shortage of candidates for Iowa's man of the match, but for my money it's Mark Ballweg.  He notched Iowa's only win over a ranked opponent and his thrilling, final-seconds win gave Iowa a great deal of momentum and gave Iowa plenty of breathing room for the rest of the meet.  But if you wanted to argue a case for McDonough, Ramos, St. John, or Gambrall, I wouldn't argue much.  St. John was particularly impressive -- his lanky reach is going to be a real problem for guys at 157 and his movement on the mat looked incredibly smooth tonight.  The other very pleasant surprise was Tony Ramos, who was absolutely tenacious at 133 tonight: he scored six takedowns and always seemed to be looking to press the attack.  The race for the starting spot at 133 is going to be intense.

On the other hand, the battle for 165 looks eerily similar to last year's frustrating battle for 157, with the same participants (Aaron Janssen and Jake Kerr) both failing to stand out in any decisive fashion. Kerr didn't seem nearly aggressive enough against Sorenson; it would be a shock if Janssen didn't get the start tomorrow night.  It was also a disappointing night for Jeret Chiri and the Lofthouse clan. After an early takedown, Chiri got utterly mauled by Nate Carr for the rest of the match; it could be a long year at 149.  Luke "Grandpa" Lofthouse was up to his old tricks: he was in on a few single-leg takedown attempts against Ward but just couldn't finish them. Ethen Lofthouse's struggles were far more understandable: Reader looks like a beast at 174 this year and frankly Lofthouse did well to keep the loss to just a decision.  Finally, Rasing won a predictably slow (and pretty dull) heavyweight bout, while McDonough and Gambrall did precisely what they should do against incredibly overmatched opposition: dominate them.

It's far too soon to make any judgments about this Iowa team, but they're off to a solid start. We found out that they could handle getting punched in the mouth and losing a match and we found out that they can handle themselves well against high-level competition (for the most part).  There will be far stiffer tests down the road than Iowa State, but for now we'll happily take yet another win over little brother.

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