The curious case of Josh Dziewa

The other day we watched one of Iowa’s fringe All American candidates, Josh Dziewa, let a should-be-win slip through his fingers as he refused to get out from the bottom position, and in the third period when he really needed a go to takedown, he was unable to get it. It was what most Hawk fans called utterly maddening.

As I wrote my review of the Dziewa match a thought struck me that I had written this write up before. It was almost like I was repeating something I had heard before, so I went to a few message board posts, checked my own previous posts as to not be repetitive. Just when I had given up hope of where I had read this before, it hit me. Nick Moore. Wasn’t it just last season Iowa fans were screaming the same things at Moore? As I thought about it I drew more and more parallels I knew I had to write this article. I had to know I wasn’t the only one who thought these two are so similar. So now I make my case..

It begins with high school. Does anyone else remember that coming out of high school Josh Dziewa was the #1 ranked 135 pounder in the nation? He had bumped up in tournaments to face the likes of Andrew Alton (he didn’t win, but it showed guts). Dziewa was apart of an outstanding #1 recruiting class that year. It was also a recruiting class that saw Nick Moore as the #2 160 pounder in the nation behind a Cornell product Marshall Peppleman. Big deal, right? Lots of wrestlers can come in ranked #1 at their weight, doesn’t mean they will have similar careers. Well when you consider D1 College Wrestling had Nick Moore at #11 and Dziewa at #12, it gets a little more intriguing, but this was really only laying the ground work.

As we all know, neither started after taking their redshirt year with the program. The only starts Nick Moore did receive were in place of the injured Derek St. John. Something to note, Moore had been wrestling up at 165, and most knew he wasn’t knocking St. John out of the lineup so his future was firmly at 165. Moore cut down to 157 filling in as best he could going 9-6, until the eventual runner up St. John returned.

Moore finally got the job full time starting last season as a Sophomore. His results were a mixed bag to say the least. He had some good wins, for instance he beat 6th place finisher Mike Moreno in the dual, and beat 7th place finisher Cody Yohn three times throughout the season, he even had a win over current #7 ranked Pierce Harger of Northwestern. He also had some frustrating losses. He lost to Lear of Bucknell and Lewandowski of Buffalo. At NCAA’s in his home state he not only lost his rematch with Moreno, but worse lost for the first time to Yohn of the season. Moore was in all of his matches, but it was one of those things were you started wondering if he lost something since high school. Moore clearly had the tools to transition to the college level, but why wasn’t he using them? The answer seems to have come this season. Where so far he has wins over #5 Caldwell, #6 Yates, #7 Harger, and #10 Moreno. The transformation happened seemingly over night, yet at the same time there has always been flashes of this Nick Moore, we are just seeing him piece it all together now in his second full season as a starter.

So let’s circle back to Dziewa. Where do I start comparing? Dziewa missed most of his freshman season with a shoulder injury. He, much like Moore, was blocked by an All American in the lineup. When inconsistency struck he, again like Moore, moved weight classes (except Josh went up) to try and give Iowa a qualifier at NCAA’s as a Sophomore. He went 0-2 at the conference tournament, and returned for his junior season, his first season as a starter. What I think we are seeing is Nick Moore 2.0 on the mat. Josh’s development has been much like Moore’s. They came in with a similar pedigree, faced similar challenges that didn’t require them to be starters from Day 1 of eligibility.

You could say I am grasping at straws trying to make conclusions based off random occurrences. But I just can’t shake the feeling though. Look at his record this year. Two wins over 2013 All American Richard Durso, and another tight victory over another All American Chris Dardanes. Outside his loss to Port, which he was pinned, Dziewa lost matches to #2 Rehterford by two points, #8 Rodrigues by one point, #18 Collica by two points, and #12 Dutton by one point. Aside from the Retherford match, he was clearly in that match and was one move away from winning it. All he needed was one takedown in each match in the third period, and he hasn’t been able to get it. I truly believe we are watching him mature before our eyes. You can see it when he wrestles that he getting better with his duck unders. Against Dardanes he almost got it to work a few times. What I think is that as Dziewa get’s more matches as a starter, his shot will continue to improve to where I think he can get to the same level as Moore is at now.

Please do not take this the wrong way. I still think Dziewa can make the podium at nationals this year (which Moore failed to do last year). Part of that comes down to the luck of the draw and upsets anyway. The thing I wanted to convey is that while Dziewa lost a match against a Michigan opponent who most of the people who watched the match would tell you, a little more action from Dziewa and he has it in the bag. I think it was a very good learning moment. I still feel good about my D- grade I gave him, but how can we learn in this world if not by our mistakes? Dziewa can be a frustrating and a fun wrestler to watch, but the thing I would advise you to remember is that maybe that shoulder injury did set his development back a step. Maybe Dziewa still has it in him to take the step to the next level. We have already seen flashes of what he can be this season, we just need to be a little patient with him, just like we all were with Nick Moore.

*Note all rankings were pulled on 2/10/14. Intermat has yet to release this week’s updated rankings.

If you liked the article and would like to see more follow me on Twitter: @hawktalkscorner

Unless otherwise expressly indicated by BHGP editors, this FanPost is strictly the viewpoint of the author and is not endorsed by BHGP in any way.

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