Nick Moore and his opponent decided to eschew the usual wrestling match in favor of a good ol' wheelbarrow race. - Darren Miller (University of Iowa Photo Services)
Iowa routed Lehigh, 26-9, in a bizarre Thursday afternoon wrestling meet. Let's break down how it happened.
In my preview yesterday, I noted that this dual should be another Iowa rout -- and that's pretty much exactly what it was. Iowa picked up bonus points in the first three matches and won the first six matches overall, staking themselves to an insurmountable 23-0 lead. Things went south in the upper weights, as Iowa lost three straight at 174, 184, and 197, suggesting that there's certainly work to be done there. Bobby Telford ended the meet in strong fashion with a near-major decision and giving Iowa the final 26-9 victory margin. That was about what I expected (I called for 28-6 yesterday) and, indeed, the results went pretty much as I figured they would: the wrestlers who should have won did win and the wrestlers who should have dominated did dominate.
#5 IOWA 26, #23 LEHIGH 9
125: #1 Matt McDonough FALL (2:05) Alex Abreu (IOWA 6-0)
133: #3 Tony Ramos MAJ DEC 12-3) Cody Kievman (IOWA 10-0)
141: #11 Mark Ballweg MAJ DEC (15-5) Anthony Salupo (IOWA 14-0)
149: Mike Kelly DEC (9-4) #19 Shane Welsh (IOWA 17-0)
157: #1 Derek St. John DEC (6-0) #4 Joey Napoli IOWA 20-0)
165: #19 Nick Moore DEC (7-4) Eric Hess (IOWA 23-0)
174: #19 Nathaniel Brown DEC (3-2) Grant Gambrall (IOWA 23-3)
184: #3 Robert Hamlin DEC (9-4) #7 Ethen Lofthouse (IOWA 23-6)
197: John Bolich DEC (3-2) Nathan Burak (IOWA 23-9)
285: #5 Bobby Telford DEC (11-4) Jack Delia (IOWA 26-9)
125: One of the gripes I had about last Saturday's 32-3 pasting of Iowa State was the lack of pins or nearfall points. Well, McD addressed that concern emphatically, scoring a pin in just over two minutes. That's the sort of result you expect out of a senior defending national champion taking on a guy who's 1-4, but it's still good to see McD taking care of business with such ruthless efficiency.
133: Unlike McD, Ramos had to settle for "only" a 12-3 major decision, but it sounded like he was using the match as a jumped-up training exercise as much as anything. He had almost five minutes of riding time and spent much of the match trying to turn Kievman and get a pin or back points. It's a shame he wasn't able to get them, but it's excellent to see him working for those points.
141: Last week, Ballweg cruised to a 4-1 victory over Iowa State's Luke Goettl (a wrestler ranked in the low teens) and while that was nice, it was frustrating that he didn't do more to push the scoreline. Ballweg got another crack at a wrestler ranked in the low teens this week (Amateur Wrestling News had Salupo at #18) and this time he did pour on the points, grabbing a 15-5 major decision thanks to several takedowns and some nearfalls. Ballweg is looking better and better, which is a great sign for an Iowa team that needs someone other than the usual suspects to step up this year.
149: Kelly kept things rolling for Iowa with a 9-4 decision win, one of of his better performances at 149. Andy Hamilton noted that he looked aggressive and he was certainly able to score more than we've seen from him in several other matches. Welsh, his opponent, is decent-but-not-great (ranked #19 by InterMat), but those are the kind of guys we need to see him beat so that he can move up the ladder at 149. I still think Kelly spends too much time trying to get big throws and upper body moves at times, but this is a promising result.
157: St. John's match with #4 Napoli was the showcase match of the dual, but DSJ made sure there was no drama and no upset potential to be found here. He opened up with a quick takedown and then put on a riding clinic, ultimately winning 6-0. Blanking a top-5 opponent is no small feat and it sounds like he was very close to getting another takedown in the third period and making it a major decision win. DSJ is wrestling well right now, which is exactly what you want to see from one of your team leaders.
165: Nick Moore was one of the bigger disappointments from the Iowa State dual; he won his match, but he did so in very uninspiring fashion (3-2) and spent much of the third period backing off and narrowly avoiding a stall call (in fact, had the match been at a venue other than CHA, he might not have been so lucky on that front). He rebounded with a better result here, although for a while this match was looking like a carbon copy of his match in the ISU dual: get an early takedown, then do very little and try to ride that to a win. But this week he had a much better effort in the third period, grabbing two takedowns and a riding time point to get a reasonably comfortable 7-4 win. That's not great, but it's better than last week.
174: And here's where things started to go south in the dual for Iowa. The outcome of the dual was already pretty much sealed (with a 23-0 lead, Iowa would have needed to give up four consecutive pins or get dinged for a lot of penalty points to lose the meet itself), but the individual results were disappointing. Gambrall got the nod at 174 but put on a performance we've become all-too-familiar with over the past two seasons: overly defensive, tentative, and not aggressive until too late. The cut down to 174 does not seem to have been a panacea for Gambrall; whatever ailed him before still ails him now. It's hard to figure he'll get too many more opportunities at this weight, especially with Mike Evans looking as strong as he did at the same weight last week.
184: I never expected a win from Ethen Lofthouse in this match -- Hamlin is a very, very good opponent, as evidenced by his strong results in the NCAA Tournament (two-time All-America). So I was neither surprised nor disheartened by the 9-4 decision loss Lofthouse suffered here. Hamlin is one of the top 2-3 wrestlers in the nation at 184; Lofthouse isn't. An upset would have been wonderful, but it wasn't a likely result. Frankly, I'm far more interested in seeing how Lofthouse does against guys ranked in the 5-10 range, nationally. If he can't beat the likes of Ruth and Hamlin, so be it. But if he has All-America potential -- and I still think he does -- then he needs to be able to beat the guys ranked in that 5-10 range. Those are the matches to really pay attention to, frankly.
197: Thus far, the Nathan Burak Experience is doing nothing but providing an excellent example of why Tom Brands has never started a true freshman before. I was happy to give Burak a pass last week -- Gadson is a talented wrestler who's a top 10-12 talent when healthy -- but losing at home to a wrestler who entered the match with a 1-4 record is far more alarming. Burak seems to be having trouble getting his offense going (not an uncommon thing for a freshman) and until he can do that more successfully, it's going to be hard for him to win matches. I had hoped that he would be able to provide something for Iowa at this weight this year and it's certainly too early to count him out entirely, but these early matches have not been much of a confidence boost. It may be that we see someone else -- Tomas Lira or Jeremy Fahler, perhaps -- getting a crack at this weight in an upcoming match.
285: Telford won in dramatic fashion last week (thanks to a reversal late in the third period), but he was very close to a much more comfortable win: he was achingly close to finishing several other takedown attempts; he just wasn't able to complete them. This week he was able to complete those takedowns and push for some nearfall points, which led to a much more comfortable 11-4 win. (And he would have had a major decision win, too, if not for a penalty point.)
Also, a bit shout-out to Nickhawk08 who stepped up and provided excellent updates on the matches throughout the meet yesterday while I was unavailable. Thanks a lot for the help, Nick -- it was much appreciated!
NEXT: Iowa has ten days off before heading to New York City and taking on Bucknell and Hofstra in the Grapple at the Garden.