The Iowa wrestling team kicked off its season in exciting -- and busy -- fashion this weekend, with several wrestlers in competition. On Friday, the expected Iowa starting lineup (give or take a wrestler or two) headed to Chattanooga for a triple-header against Cumberland University (an NAIA team), #17 Virginia, and University of Tennessee-Chattanooga (the hosts, of course). As expected, they won the bookend duals handily (52-0, 37-6) and while the middle dual against Virginia was more challenging, it still wound up being a comfortable Iowa win. Meanwhile, yesterday several other Iowa wrestlers (including a few potential starters for the 2012-13 team) took the mat down at the Lindenwood Open outside of St. Louis, an event that featured strong teams from #7 Illinois, #4 Oklahoma State, and #6 Missouri. Several Iowa wrestlers had good showings down there. We'll take a closer look at all of the action down below...
#2 IOWA 52, CUMBERLAND 0
125: #1 Matt McDonough FALL (1:51) Zach Shelton (IOWA 6-0)
133: #3 Tony Ramos FALL (1:33) Jake Williams (IOWA 12-0)
141: #14 Mark Ballweg MAJ DEC (16-4) Jared McKinley (IOWA 16-0)
149: Brody Grothus FALL (2:36) Steven Sandefur (IOWA 22-0)
157: #1 Derek St. John TECH FALL (19-4; 6:41) Shane Brown (IOWA 27-0)
165: #4 Mike Evans MAJ DEC (14-3) Kirk Johnson (IOWA 31-0)
174: #8 Grant Gambrall DEC (6-4 OT) Zeke Hunt (IOWA 34-0)
184: #8 Ethen Lofthouse FALL (1:30) Aric Fernandez (IOWA 40-0)
197: Jeremy Fahler FALL (1:47) Joe Gallegos (IOWA 46-0)
285: #6 Bobby Telford FALL (0:51) Tyler Smith (IOWA 52-0)
#2 IOWA 26, #17 VIRGINIA 12
125: #1 Matt McDonough DEC (9-4) #5 Matt Snyder (IOWA 3-0)
133: #3 Tony Ramos TECH FALL (23-8) George DiCamillo (IOWA 8-0)
141: #14 Mark Ballweg MAJ DEC (14-3) Joe Spisak (IOWA 12-0)
149: #10 Derek Valenti DEC (9-5) Brody Grothus (IOWA 11*-3)
157: #1 Derek St. John DEC (6-0) Jedd Moore (IOWA 14-3)
165: #4 Mike Evans DEC (7-4) #8 Nick Sulzer (IOWA 17-3)
174: #9 Jon Fausey FALL (OT) #8 Grant Gambrall (IOWA 17-9)
184: #8 Ethen Lofthouse DEC (3-1) Stephen Doty (IOWA 20-9)
197: Mike Salopek DEC (8-6) Tomas Lira (IOWA 20-12)
285: #6 Bobby Telford wins via forfeit (IOWA 26-12)
#2 IOWA 37, TENNESSEE-CHATTANOOGA 6
125: #1 Matt McDonough FALL (1:45) #9 Nick Soto (IOWA 6-0)
133: #3 Tony Ramos FALL (6:13) Marvin Lopez (IOWA 12-0)
141: #14 Mark Ballweg MAJ DEC (9-0) Dean Pavlou (IOWA 16-0)
149: Alex Hudson DEC (8-2) Ethan Owens (IOWA 16-3)
157: #1 Derek St. John MAJ DEC (19-6) Trey Stavrum (IOWA 20-3)
165: Nick Moore MAJ DEC (12-3) John Lampe (IOWA 24-3)
174: #8 Grant Gambrall DEC (7-5) Jake Young (IOWA 27-3)
184: #8 Ethen Lofthouse MAJ DEC (20-8) Roberty Prigmore (IOWA 31-3)
197: Niko Brown DEC (10-7) Tomas Lira (IOWA 31-6)
285: #6 Bobby Telford FALL (2:48) Kevin Malone (IOWA 37-6)
125: In case you were wondering, McDonough is still very, very good. This shaped up as an early test for him, with some extra intrigue given his struggles with true freshman Cory Clark at last weekend's wrestle-offs and his past history of some (slight) trouble in early-season matches, but he passed that test nicely. He picked up two pins (including one over the 9th ranked Soto) and scored a solid decision win (9-4 over #5 wrestler at 125, Matt Snyder. Job well done, McD.
133: Among wrestlers who competed in three matches on Friday, no one accumulated more team points for Iowa than Ramos, who had two pins and a tech fall for a total of 17 points. (Heavyweight accounted for 18 team points for Iowa, but one of Telford's "wins" there was a forfeit.) The competition Ramos faced wasn't great, but he did exactly what you'd hope to see out of an elite wrestler against weak opponents: complete dominance. He grabbed two pins and put on a takedown clinic in the third period of his other match to push the result to a technical fall. Nice start, Tony.
141: Ballweg was a model of consistency for Iowa at this weight on Friday. Three matches, three major decision wins. He didn't face any significant competition (although Virginia's Spisak was ranked #18 at 133 by InterMat), but he did a solid job of picking up bonus points in all of his matches. I was slightly surprised he didn't record any pins, given the competition and his track record at notching pinfall victories in past seasons, but that's merely a quibble. Ballweg did just fine and did nothing to hurt his standing as the starter at 141 this year.
149: A predictably mixed bag at this weight for Iowa in these three matches. Iowa went 1-2, with Grothus picking up a pinfall victory over Cumberland and losing a 9-5 decision to Virginia's Valenti and then Ethan Owens dropping a decision to Chattanooga. (I don't know why Grothus didn't wrestle all three matches; perhaps fatigue was a concern.) The commentary about the Valenti match suggested that Grothus was the victim of some poor officiating and that he was very much in the match, which is encouraging given Valenti's ranking. 149 still remains murky, but Grothus didn't too much to hurt his standing here. (Although a win over Valenti probably would have been a nice boost for his cause.)
157: Three matches, three wins for DSJ. He grabbed bonus points against Cumberland (tech fall) and Chattanooga (major decision), but only recorded a basic decision win against Virginia (6-0). That Virginia wrestler -- Jedd Moore -- may be a decent opponent, though; he's 5-1 on the season, with the only loss being to St. John, and his five wins have all been by bonus points. Getting a few more bonus points out of St. John would be nice, but I'm not too concerned -- he's come through big for Iowa in the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments in the past and I suspect he'll be just fine this year as well.
165: Mike Evans wrestled twice on Friday, picking up a major decision win over Cumberland and winning a "wild" (per some observers) 7-4 decision over #8 Nick Sulzer of Virginia in his second match. Nick Moore gave Evans a breather in the third match and notched a major decision win of his own over Chattanooga. It was good to see Evans pick up a win against top-ten competition. Moore remains a capable backup for Iowa at 165.
174: So much for 174 being an immediate panacea for Gambrall. He went 2-1, which isn't bad, but both wins were nail-biters (6-4 in OT, 7-5) against overmatched opponents from Cumberland and Chattanooga. He also went to OT against #9 Jon Fausey of Virginia... and came up on the losing end after getting caught in a bad position and pinned. Wrestling painfully close matches has been a Gambrall staple since he cracked the Iowa lineup, but it's one thing to wrestle a close match against a ranked opponent; it's another thing entirely to be walking a tightrope against (seemingly) much weaker opponents. Gambrall can and (hopefully) will get better at 174, but this was a pretty inauspicious debut for him at his new weight.
184: Ethen Lofthouse wrestled all three matches for Iowa at 184 and he did pretty well in his official debut at that weight. He dominated the lesser opponents from Cumberland and Chattanooga (a pin and a major decision), but struggled a bit against Virginia's Stephen Doty. It would have been preferable to see Lofthouse win by a more comfortable margin than 3-1 against Doty, but the early returns on his move to 184 are encouraging.
197: Jeremy Fahler bumped up from 184 to snatch a pinfall win over an overmatched Cumberland opponent in the first meet of the day, then Tomas Lira stepped in to grab a pair of close decision losses against Virginia and Chattanooga. As usual, Lira's matches weren't boring (he lost 10-7 and 8-6), but they were losses. That's kind of Lira in a nutshell, sadly: great effort, not-so-great results. 197 remains ripe for the taking.
285: No Iowa starter wrestled as little as Telford on Friday, but in his case it had nothing to do with a backup getting a shot. Telford wrestled only two matches (Virginia forfeited at 285 in their dual with Iowa) and scored a pair of pins in less than four minutes combined. It sounded like the strength he added in off-season workouts with Chris Doyle was indeed advantageous and he ripped through his (seriously) overmatched opponents. These results tell us next to nothing about where Telford stands against the rest of the heavyweight field this year... but bonus point wins are certainly nice to see.
LINDENWOOD OPEN RESULTS
Thomas Gilman (5-1, 3rd place)
W, TECH FALL (24-9) over Cody Hummer (Missouri?)
W, TECH FALL (19-4) over Tyler Orr (McKendree)
W, DEC (6-4) over Ed Klimara (Oklahoma State)
L, DEC (3-0) to Jarrod Patterson (Oklahoma)
W, TECH FALL (18-2) over Da'Wayne Robertson (Ellsworth Community College)
W, DEC (5-2) over Ed Klimara (Oklahoma State)
Cory Clark sat out this weekend's action to nurse a minor injury, which left Gilman to re-establish his bona fides as a potential future star for Iowa after Clark took the headlines last week at the wrestle-offs with a win over Gilman and a (very) narrow loss to McDonough. Gilman did not disappoint, going 5-1 (with three tech fall wins) and finishing 3rd overall. His only loss was a narrow decision defeat to Patterson, the runner-up at this event and a former NCAA All-American. He dominated the weaker competition at the event and also grabbed two wins over Ed Klimara, the possible starter for Oklahoma State at 125 this year. We couldn't have asked for too much more than this out of Gilman in his first real competition.
Topher Carton (2-2, DNP)
W, TECH FALL (18-3) over Robert Hall (???)
W, DEC (13-8) over Cole Baumgartner (Missouri?)
L, MAJ DEC (12-4) to Laddie Rupp (Oklahoma State)
L, DEC (7-5) to Brenden Murphy (McKendree)
A so-so outing for Carton, who went 2-2 and failed to place at the event. Other than the major decision loss to Rupp (a possible stater for Oklahoma State this year), he didn't struggle to put up points in his matches, which was nice to see. Still, Carton appears to be pretty far down the pecking order right now.
Josh Dziewa (5-2, DNP)
W, FALL (2:44) over Tyler Lashbrook (Ellsworth)
W, DEC (6-0) over Bradley Wisdom (Lindenwood)
L, DEC (4-1) to Walter Garrison (Oklahoma)
W, DEC (2-0) over Skyler Procasky (Rend Lake)
W, FALL (4:33) over Roy Jones (Kennedy Ki)
W, MAJ DEC (11-0) over Matt Katusin (Lindenwood)
L, DEC (9-4) to Steven Rodrigues (Illinois)
Dziewa is the other contender for the starting job at 141 (behind Mark Ballweg) and he had an alright tournament. He grabbed five wins (three with bonus points) but all came against lesser opposition. Against big-time competition, he lost to an Oklahoma backup and was defeated by Illinois' Rodrigues, a talented wrestler who could vie for a starting spot this year or next. (FUN FACT: Rodrigues was briefly committed to Iowa before changing his mind and heading to Illinois.) It was an OK showing for Dziewa, but it didn't do much to put him ahead of Ballweg in the race for the starting job here.
Connor Ryan (3-2, DNP)
W, FALL (2:26) over David Diaz (Lindenwood)
W, FALL (1:32) over Terry Stockton (???)
W, DEC (5-2) over Craig Chiles (Lindenwood)
L, DEC (3-2) to Jacob Janes (Lindenwood)
L, DEC (5-0) to Steven Rodrigues (Illinois)
Ryan finished 3-2 in his first outing for Iowa, but the wins came against overmatched foes. He, like Dziewa, couldn't handle Rodrigues, their almost-teammate. Ryan looks like a wrestler who will need some seasoning before he's ready to contribute at Iowa.
Mike Kelly (4-2, 4th place)
W, FALL (1:12) over Dexter Carter (Ouachita B)
W, DEC (4-1) over Trevor Wiest (Missouri)
W, TECH FALL (17-2) over Jake Ekster (Missouri)
L, MAJ DEC (10-1) to Jordan Oliver (Oklahoma State)
W, FALL (1:10) over Keenan Hagerty (Maryville)
L, DEC (16-9) to Josh Kindig (Oklahoma State)
With Brody Grothus off strutting his stuff in Chattanooga, this tournament was Kelly's opportunity to showcase his abilities. He did pretty well. Three of his four wins featured bonus points and both of his losses came against current or former Oklahoma State starters (and Oliver is an NCAA title favorite, to boot). The lopsided loss to Kindig (a good, but not great) wrestler was disappointing, but overall Kelly did well enough to keep himself in strong contention with Grothus for the starting job at 149.
Jake Kadel (3-2, DNP)
L, MAJ DEC (10-2) to Kyle Bradley (Missouri)
W, FALL (2:00) over Stanton Ketcherside (Lindenwood)
W, FALL (3:15) over James Townsend (Hannibal)
W, DEC (7-5) over Jacob Gingerich (Illinois)
L, DEC (8-7) to Justin Cash (Rend Lake)
As I said about Connor Ryan a few lines earlier, Kadel will need some seasoning before he's read to contribute at Iowa. Always good to see pinfall wins, though.
Walt Gilmor (5-3, 6th place)
W, MAJ DEC (10-1) over Samuel Mehan (Oklahoma)
L, DEC (5-1) to Zach Toal (Missouri)
W, FALL (4:09) over Trevor Dice (Bethany College)
W, MAJ DEC (10-1) over Gian Traverso (Missouri)
W, MAJ DEC (14-3) over Darnell Thomas (Lincoln Co)
W, DEC (5-3) over Tyler Prazma (Missouri)
L, DEC (6-0) to Clark Glass (Oklahoma State?)
L, MED FFT to Nicolas Haferkamp (McKendree)
Gilmor was one of the pleasant surprises at this event, going 5-3 and taking home 6th place honors. He's still well behind Evans and Moore in the pecking order at 165, but he looks like he can provide solid depth if nothing else.
Kris Klapprodt (6-2, 3rd place)
W, FALL (1:14) over Zach Schleder (Lincoln College)
L, DEC (4-1) to Jordan Gagliano (Missouri)
W, MAJ DEC (15-2) over Brad Wagner (Bethany College)
W, DEC (10-3) over Matt Greene (Lindenwood)
W, FALL (2:50) over Travis Lang (Maryville)
W, DEC (8-6) over Cody Johnston (Missouri)
L, DEC (3-2) to Jordan Gagliano (Missouri)
W, DEC (6-4) over Nick Burghardt (Maryville)
Klapprodt was another Iowa wrestler with a very strong showing at this event, going 6-2 and taking home 3rd place honors. Both of his losses came to Jordan Gagliano, a Missouri starter, and while most of his wins came against overmatched opponents, he was able to get bonus points in three of his six wins, which is what we like to see. Klapprodt is definitely going to be in the mix for a starting spot over the next few years/
Alex Meyer (4-3, 6th place)
W, DEC (5-3) over Dallas Smith (Ouachita B)
W, FALL (1:54) over Josh Clark (Kennedy Ki)
W, DEC (4-2) over Quinten Patterson (Oklahoma State)
W, DEC (7-3) over Brendan Mahaney (Illinois)
L, DEC (14-8) to Travis Rutt (Wisconsin)
L, DEC (5-1) to Mike Larson (Missouri)
L, DEC (4-3) to Justin Heberlie (Missouri)
Meyer had a somewhat disappointing showing at the wrestle-offs, but he bounced back brightly here, going 4-3 and finishing in 6th place. He lost to some quality wrestlers -- Rutt is a former All-American and Larson is a starter for Missouri. He didn't pick up many bonus points, but he was also wrestling better competition than most of the Hawkeyes at this event.
Sam Brooks (3-2, DNP)
L, DEC (8-5) to Jeffrey Koepke (Illinois)
W, TECH FALL (19-2) over Dallas Smith (Ouachita B)
W, TECH FALL (19-2) over Eddie Bernal (???)
W, TECH FALL (22-7) over Blace Walser (Oklahoma)
L, DEC (3-2) to Mike Larson (Missouri)
Brooks impressed at last week's wrestle-offs, but stumbled out of the game here, losing to Illinois' Koepke in the first round. He rebounded impressively in the consolation bracket, though, and demolished three straight opponents via tech fall before losing a squeaker to Missouri's Larson. It's going to be very exciting to see how things shake out with Brooks and Meyer (and Klapprodt) over the next few years.
Nathan Burak (7-1, 3rd place)
W, FALL (2:30) over Nigel Burnett (Hannibal-LaGrange)
L, DEC (1-0) to Brent Haynes (Missouri)
W, TECH FALL (18-1) over Alex Fruend (NW Missouri)
W, DEC (5-2) over Michael Johnson (Lindenwood)
W, MAJ DEC (11-1) over Courtney Freeman (University of the Cumberland)
W, DEC (5-2) over Josh DaSilveira (Ellsworth Community College)
W, DEC (9-5) over Austin Schafer (Oklahoma State)
W, MAJ DEC (12-4) over Darnell Bortz (Oklahoma State)
There was a little surprise at first about Burak heading to the Lindenwood Open rather than accompanying the starters to Chattanooga, but in hindsight it looks like a pretty sharp move. The competition Burak faced at the Lindenwood Open was much better than he would have faced in Chattanooga and sending him here to compete unattached at least left open the possibility that he could redshirt this season. That said... I can't see much rationale to redshirt him. He already had a de facto redshirt year last season when he competed at the Olympic Training Center and the results from this tournament look very promising. It's always unwise to invest too much importance into a single event, but he wrestled eight matches and picked up seven wins, including three bonus point wins and he faced some decent competition, too -- Haynes is a three-time NCAA qualifier for Missouri and he beat two Oklahoma State wrestlers (albeit backups). It's hard to envision Lira qualifying for the NCAA Tournament, let alone doing anything if he got there. Burak looks like he could qualify for NCAAs... and probably snatch a win or two, at least. In a year where Iowa will probably need all the points they can get at the NCAAs, that might be reason enough to start him. It will be interesting to see who gets tabbed to start at the Iowa City Duals this weekend.
Artie Bess (0-2, DNP)
L, FALL (2:23) to Coltyn Pease (Rend Lake)
L, INJ DEFAULT to Morgan Denson (Maryville)
Get to the weight room, Artie.