Iowa officially kicked off the conference dual meet portion of their schedule this weekend, with a neutral-site dual against Purdue (in Bradley, IL) and a home dual meet against Michigan State. To put it kindly, Iowa was not challenged much in either of these duals. Purdue and Michigan State are two of the worst teams in the conference, with Michigan State making a pretty emphatic case to be the worst of the worst. Iowa shut them out 41-0 on Saturday night in a thoroughly dominant performance and while that's a testament to the quality that Iowa has in its lineup from top to bottom, it's also a damning indictment of how far Michigan State's program has fallen at the moment. Iowa has a good team -- potentially a very good team -- but it doesn't have world-beaters at every weight.
#3 IOWA 30, #21 PURDUE 3
125: #3 Thomas Gilman DEC (2-0) UN Camden Eppert (IOWA 3-0)
133: #4 Tony Ramos DEC (11-5) UN Kyle Ayersman (IOWA 6-0)
141: #9 Josh Dziewa DEC (6-1) UN Danny Sabatello (IOWA 9-0)
149: #15 Brody Grothus DEC (5-3) UN Brandon Nelsen (IOWA 12-0)
157: #1 Derek St. John DEC (7-2) UN Kyle Mosier (IOWA 15-0)
165: #5 Nick Moore TECH FALL (16-1) UN Pat Robinson (IOWA 20-0)
174: UN Alex Meyer DEC (5-3) UN Patrick Kissel (IOWA 23-0)
184: #3 Ethen Lofthouse MAJ DEC (20-7) UN Tyler Lynde (IOWA 27-0)
197: #17 Braden Atwood DEC (5-4) #11 Nathan Burak (IOWA 27-3)
285: #4 Bobby Telford DEC (4-0) UN Alex White (IOWA 30-3)
Iowa's weekend began with Purdue, though, in a meet that was only slightly more competitive than the Michigan State dual. Purdue managed to win one match (197, the only weight where they featured a nationally-ranked wrestler) and kept several other matches to close (or respectable) decision losses, but they never threatened to actually, you know, win many of them.
The story of the dual was probably the lack of bonus points from Iowa, especially in the lower weights. Iowa looked positive lethargic at some of their best weights, like 125 and 133. I don't know if it was a Midlands hangover, if they didn't take Purdue's wrestlers very seriously, or if they just let Purdue's wrestlers dictate the way the matches played out (which is what Tom Brands suggested in his comments after the match), but it was a disappointing showing for Iowa's guys. Following up back-to-back wins over Jesse Delgado and Jarrod Garnett with a 2-0 win over Camden Eppert is not really what we expected to see out of Thomas Gilman. And seeing Tony Ramos get held to an 11-5 decision win (thanks to conceding a late reversal) to an unranked opponent was positive shocking.
Surprisingly, it was Iowa's upper weights that brought the scoring thunder for once. Nick Moore and Ethen Lofthouse -- of all people -- smashed their opponents; Moore earned a comprehensive 16-1 technical fall, while Lofthouse rattled off a series of takedowns to cruise to a 20-7 major decision win. Maybe their respective close losses in the Midlands finals lit a fire under them; whatever the case, it was great that they were wrestling with so much fire and scoring so many points. As noted, the only blemish on Iowa's night was Burak's narrow loss to #17 Atwood; that was a disappointing setback for Burak in the match that clinched the burning of his redshirt this season. He may get another crack at Atwood at the Big Ten Tournament; if so, let's hope he's able to finish a few of his takedown attempts.
#3 IOWA 41, MICHIGAN STATE 0
125: #3 Thomas Gilman MAJ DEC (20-7) UN Brenan Lyon (IOWA 4-0)
133: #4 Tony Ramos FALL (5:25) UN Garth Yenter (IOWA 10-0)
141: #9 Josh Dziewa MAJ DEC (16-5) UN Brian Gibbs (IOWA 14-0)
149: #15 Brody Grothus DEC (3-2) UN Nick Trimble (IOWA 17-0)
157: #1 Derek St. John TECH FALL (22-7) UN Roger Wildmo (IOWA 21-0)
165: #5 Nick Moore FALL (6:51) UN Bobby Nash (IOWA 27-0)
174: UN Alex Meyer TECH FALL (21-6) UN Kevin Nash (IOWA 32-0)
184: #3 Ethen Lofthouse DEC (4-2) #20 John Rizqallah (IOWA 35-0)
197: #11 Nathan Burak DEC (3-0) UN Nick McDiarmid (IOWA 38-0)
285: #4 Bobby Telford DEC (2-0) #9 Mike McClure (IOWA 41-0)
While most of the Iowa team seemed to sleepwalk through the Purdue dual, they looked very fired up for the dual against Sparty the following night. One team had a lineup that had wrestled a dual meet the night before... and it wasn't the team that finished with 0 poinnts on Saturday night. I'm not sure what exactly Tom Brands said to the team before the MSU dual, but he should bottle it up for future use. Iowa was fired up and aggressive from the opening whistle in this dual meet; Thomas Gilman got things started with a clinical 20-7 major decision dismantling of Brenan Lyon and Tony Ramos followed that up by working a takedown clinic of his own before getting bored and finally pinning Garth Yenter in the third period. Dziewa kept the bonus points flowing with a major decision of his own (16-5).
Brody Grothus was the first of four Iowa wrestlers against Michigan State who did something a little bit odd: they won their matches without scoring a single takedown. Grothus won a tight 3-2 decision over Nick Trimble thanks to a pair of escapes and a riding time point earned by riding Trimble out for an entire period. The inability to score from neutral is a bit of a concern, but it's also encouraging to see Iowa finding other ways to win, especially on the mat; Iowa has had trouble effectively riding a lot of opponents in recent years, so it was nice to see them doing so here (even if, in truth, some of the rides probably should have earned more warnings for stalling than they did). Grothus put together a nice 2-0 weekend, a feat which seemed impossible for Iowa at 148. Neither Trimble nor Brandon Nelson (Purdue's 149er) are particularly noteworthy opponents, but they're solid wrestlers -- and exactly the guys who have been beating Iowa at this weight in recent years. We'll take any progress we can get.
Meanwhile, DSJ was yet another Iowa wrestler out there putting on a takedown clinic against an overmatched foe, racking up a 22-7 technical fall (which was only worth 4 points because he failed to get any nearfall points). Nick Moore kept the domination going after intermission, following up Friday night's technical fall with a straight-up pinfall win (which he fought hard to secure). Alex Meyer, filling in for the ill Mike Evans at 174, blew upon a fairly close match with a gangbusters second period (in which he scored five takedowns, if memory serves) on his way to a 21-6 technical fall.
Ethen Lofthouse won the strangest match of the night, beating #20 John Rizqallah 4-2 in a match where all of Lofty's points came from an escape (1 pt), a riding time point (1 pt for riding Rizqallah the entire third period), and stalling penalty points (2, both in the third period). Rizqallah basically stopped wrestling in the third period, which was... kind of embarrassing. I would typically lament Lofthouse's inability to score a takedown or be more offensive, but while it was frustrating that he wasn't able to convert at least one of his shots into an actual takedown, he was far more aggressive and assertive in this match; Rizqallah put together some stellar scrambles in the first two periods to ward off Lofthouse's takedown attempts.
The meet concluded with wins from Nathan Burak (a 3-0 decision win) and Bobby Telford (a 2-0 decision win) who followed the lead of Grothus and Lofthouse and decided to win without actually scoring any takedowns. I don't endorse that as a regular plan of attack, but it worked fine here because Iowa's wrestlers were able to saddle up their Michigan State opponents and ride them into the mat. Mission accomplished, but these wins -- particularly the win over Michigan State -- were not wins to read into very much. Neither of these teams are very good and we already know that Iowa can beat up on middling competition -- we need to see more evidence of their ability to beat actual good opponents. But if the strong showings this weekend can give Iowa's guys (especially the likes of Moore and Lofthouse) more confidence as they go forward this season, well, that's a definite positive.
WRESTLER OF THE WEEKEND: Nick Moore (2-0, technical fall, fall)
No one scored more team points for Iowa this weekend than Nick Moore, thanks to his tech fall Friday night and his pinfall Saturday night. Moore responded to his narrow defeat to Steven Monk in the Midlands finals on Monday night in the best way possible: by laying waste to the next opponents he faced. He was aggressive from the moment those matches began and he was rewarded with two bonus point victories. Nothing to complain about there and I hope that Moore keeps this attitude going for the rest of the season.
RUNNER-UP: Alex Meyer (2-0, decision, technical fall)
Alex Meyer became the fourth member of Iowa's 2012 recruiting class to start a dual meet this season, following in the footsteps of highly-regarded recruits like Cory Clark, Thomas Gilman, and Sammy Brooks. Meyer may not have had the recruiting plaudits of that trio, but he's no slouch, either, and so far this season he's certainly proving that he'll have a say in the race to replace Mike Evans at 174 in a few years. He filled in for MIke Evans this weekend (out with an illness) and responded with a pair of wins. Admittedly, neither of his opponents was anything fantastic*, but it was nice to see that he wasn't rattled by the occasion. It was particularly impressive to see him pour on the points Saturday night, against Michigan State's Kevin Nash (!). Meyer blew that match wide open and wasn't remotely content with a simple decision win; it was fantastic to see such an attacking mindset on display.
* I mean, other than the fact that Alex Meyer beat KEVIN FREAKING NASH. EXCLUSIVE VIDEO FOOTAGE BELOW:
BAH GAWD, KING, AH DON'T BELIEVE WHAT AH JUST SAW.