Come January, when the Iowa football team again goes into hibernation for another nine months, what's a Hawkeye fan to do? You could pay attention to our historically awful basketball team... or you could give a little time to the two-time defending national champion, #1 ranked wrestling team. It is the one winter sport we're really, really good at, after all. In the spirit of our Assume the Position series for football, we bring you A Winner Is You!, a weight class-by-weight class breakdown of the Iowa wrestling team, counting down from the weight class we have the most confidence in to the weight class we have absolutely no clue about.
This is so much better than any photoshop I could make. (H/T: OPS)
What We Already Know
While there's a pretty good chance that eight of the ten roster spots on this team will be manned by seniors, 125 will be far different. Matt McDonough (RS FR) is the man stepping in to replace two-time All-American Charlie Falck. McDonough obviously isn't very experienced, but he tore through the competition at the recent wrestle-offs, taking down Iowa State transfer Tyler Clark, 5-1, and the other top contender at 125 lbs., J.J. Krutsinger, 10-3. By all accounts, McDonough has also been very impressive during practice sessions. At 5'7", McDonough is taller and lankier than many 125 lbs. guys (which should be an advantage), although he may not be a long-term fixture at this class if the weight cut becomes too challenging. But for now he's the man and every indication is that he has the skills to get the job done -- he just doesn't have much experience yet. Hopefully he's good at learning on the fly.
Who Else Is An Option
As mentioned above, J.J. Krutsinger (SO) is the other main option at 125 lbs. He saw a little action last year filling in for an injured Falck, going 12-8 overall, but just 1-4 in dual matches. With luck, another year's worth of experience in the practice room has allowed him to up his game a bit; based on his previous results, it would be tough to expect too much from him if he was forced to fill in for McDonough. Tyler Clark (JR) is the most experienced option at 125 lbs., but as a transfer (from Iowa State; he's following the popular Adam Haluska Plan, which is considerably better than the Alex Thompson Plan) he's ineligible to compete this year; all he can really do is help the other guys get better this year and bide his time for a shot to make next year's line-up. Clark was solid last year, going 25-8 and finishing second at the Big 12 Tournament (although he had a disappointing run in the NCAA Tournament, going just 1-2). Tony Ramos (FR) is the final option at 125 lbs., but considering that he's a true freshman and that he's recovering from a knee injury, it's a virtual certainty that he'll be redshirting this year.
Who Are The Major Threats
On the plus side, last year's NCAA runner-up, Edinboro-by-way-of-Nebraska's Paul Donahoe (he of the gay porn scandal), and last year's third place finisher, jNWU's Brandon Precin, are both gone. On the down side, the last two NCAA Champions, Cornell's Troy Nickerson and Indiana's Angel Escobedo (who's also won the last two Big Ten Tournaments), are back, as is last year's fourth-place finisher, Arizona State's Anthony Robles (better known as the "holy shit, that dude's wrestling with one fucking leg" guy). Minnesota's Zach Sanders (SO) and Old Dominion's James Nicholson (JR) should also be pretty formidable competition.
What We Reasonably Expect To Happen
When you're starting a redshirt freshman and he's going to be going up against a slew of experienced and talented challengers, it would be imprudent to set your expectations too high. By all accounts, McDonough is a very skilled guy and he'll no doubt surprise some folks this year, but this remains a loaded division. A top four finish at the Big Ten Tournament and a top six finish at the NCAA Tournament seem like doable goals, though.
Previous entries in this series: