Match points: Iowa 98, ISU 34. Takedowns: Iowa 35, ISU 3. Near-fall points: Iowa 0, ISU 0.
The final scoreline of this dual was dominant (32-3 in favor of Iowa) and while it wasn't really "closer than the score suggests," it also wasn't a total blowout rout by Iowa. Tom Brands will find plenty of things for his guys to work on after this win. Iowa won nine of the ten matches in the dual, racked up a 98-34 edge in match points, and had a stunning 35-3 edge in takedowns, but four of those wins were only by decision (and three were by three points or less) and Iowa didn't score a single pin or rack up any nearfall or back points in the entire meet. That's frustrating and probably the one area that Iowa needs to improve the most in order to mount a legitimate challenge to Penn State for Big Ten and NCAA titles in March. 3-2 wins are better than 3-2 losses, to be sure, but major decisions, tech falls, and pins go a lot farther in helping teams win hardware.
One of the areas that was a problem for most of the Iowa team was riding: guys struggled to get in good rides and they really struggled to turn riding opportunities into point-scoring opportunities -- they couldn't turn guys for pins, or at least put them in threatening situations and get nearfall points. That's an area where Iowa absolutely must improve. The other problem was specific to a handful of wrestlers rather than team-wide phenomenon, but there was a decided lack of offense from Bobby Telford, Nathan Burak, Nick Moore, and Mark Ballweg. Between them, that foursome had all of... two takedowns. That's nowhere near good enough. Telford was reasonably aggressive (aside from a somnambulant second period) but just couldn't finish several good takedown attempts. Moore and Ballweg each got a takedown apiece, but didn't seem to push for more throughout the match, which was disappointing. Burak made a few attempts, but struggled to string moves together in a way that might have actually been successful. It's still very early in the season, so there's no reason at all to panic -- and there's certainly value in gutting out ugly wins, too, since that's a skill that will come in handy later in the season -- but there's also definite work to do for everyone on the Iowa team.
#4 IOWA 32, IOWA STATE 3
174: #7 Mike Evans MAJ DEC (10-1) Tanner Weatherman (IOWA 4-0)
184: #8 Ethen Lofthouse DEC (10-3) #18 Boaz Beard (IOWA 7-0)
197: #16 Kyven Gadson DEC (5-4) Nathan Burak (IOWA 7-3)
285: #5 Bobby Telford DEC (3-2) #16 Matt Gibson (IOWA 10-3)
125: #1 Matt McDonough MAJ DEC (13-2) #16 Ryak Finch (IOWA 14-3)
133: #3 Tony Ramos MAJ DEC (19-7) John Meeks (IOWA 18-3)
141: #13 Mark Ballweg DEC (4-1) #18 Luke Goettl (IOWA 21-3)
149: Mike Kelly MAJ DEC (16-6) Luke Swalla (IOWA 25-3)
157: #1 Derek St. John MAJ DEC (16-5) Logan Molina (IOWA 29-3)
165: Nick Moore DEC (3-2) Michael Moreno (IOWA 32-3)
125: It was disappointing that McD couldn't take Finch to his back and get a tech fall or a pin, but he still improved on his win over Finch from a year ago (when he beat him 6-0) and he did a solid job of battling through Finch's lock-up-and-wait approach and completing several takedowns to make this a rout.
133: Tony seemed determined to put on a good show for the Carver fans in this match and he did not disappoint, racking up a 19-7 win that featured (I think) eight takedowns. Meeks was an elite recruit, a undefeated, four-time state champion out of Iowa, but he spent most of the match looking like he didn't even belong on the same mat as Ramos. Tony was too quick, too strong, and too crafty for Meeks and he dominated the proceedings. He did get sloppy and give up a takedown to Meeks in the third period, but he responded by almost immediately getting an escape and another takedown. Tony looks very, very locked in this year, which is exciting to see.
141: Ballweg picked up a solid win and displayed some of the best riding ability of anyone on the Iowa team when he rode Goettl for the entire second period, but it would have been nice to see him work for more takedowns and push the scoreline more. This was a solid effort, but with a little improvement it could have been an excellent effort.
149: Iowa State was down to a third-string option at this weight, so the hope was that Iowa could do some damage at this weight, even with their own problems at 149. Kelly got the nod for Iowa here and did not disappoint; he put on a takedown clinic on Swalla and even if Swalla isn't the most impressive opponent, it was still reassuring to see Kelly finally getting his leg attacks to actually work. That's what he'll need to do for Iowa to get something out of 149 this year.
157: With guys like McD, Ramos, and DSJ, the bar is set a bit higher than it is for the rest, based on their past accomplishments. St. John got plenty of takedowns on his way to a 16-5 win, so there's little to complain about, other than the fact that he seemed to struggle a little to keep Molina on the mat and (like the rest of the team) he couldn't manage to pick up any nearfall points.
165: I've been excited about the possibility of Nick Moore at 165, his natural weight, but this match did nothing to live up to that excitement. Moore got a nice takedown within the first few seconds of the match and promptly spent the rest of the match doing... well, very little, to be frank. He was incredibly lucky not to get dinged with more stall calls and he spent the final period of the match simply trying to hold on and grind out an ugly, close win. If Evans is unable to make the cut to 165, then Moore has no real challengers at this weight, but he needs to improve his performances ASAP because outings like this are not going to get it done too often.
174: In a slightly surprising move, Mike Evans got the nod over Grant Gambrall at this weight. Dan Gable theorized that the short time between the weigh-in and this match (which led off the meet) prompted the decision to go with Evans, which may be true. As I noted on Friday, this weight will be one to watch throughout the early part of the season as Evans and Gambrall battle for this spot. Evans did nothing to disappoint here, though -- he displayed some excellent leg attacks (better than he showed last year at 165), got several takedowns from his own offense, and rode well at times. He did nothing to dissuade me from my opinion that he'll be the eventual permanent starter at this weight.
184: Ethen Lofthouse wrestled a very Ethen Lofthouse-y match against Beard. He took few shots of his own but was successful on counters and scrambles and he won 10-3 in a match where he might have been able to pick up a major decision if he'd pushed the pace more and taken more shot attempts of his own. It was still a solid win, but for Ethen to be a real All-American contender at this weight, he needs to be able to generate more of his own offense. I also thought that, physically, he looks a touch small for this weight, which is something to pay attention to as he faces future opponents at this weight.
197: So how did the Nathan Burak do in hist first big match under the lights at Carver? Well, he only lost by a wrestler who, if healthy, is probably a top 10-15 guy in the nation at this weight, which isn't awful. The downside is that Burak wasn't that close to beating him, either -- he scored off escapes and a stalling penalty. He couldn't get his own offense going at all and he seemed hesitant to commit to anything, lest the quicker Gadson turn it around on him. Hopefully the coaches work with him on ways to improve his takedown attempts -- and his confidence to actually go for them. It's not there yet.
285: Telford needed a late reversal to win this match, which was not exactly reassuring, but he did manage to look decent on the whole. There were a handful of takedown attempts that he was very close to securing and that may have led to a very different match. He still needs to actually complete those attempts, of course, and his passivity in the second period was irritating, but there's no need to be too concerned about him yet.