Cael Sanderson, the other Iowa State wrestling legend to leave them in the lurch to coach a BXI school, brought his new team, the #13 Penn State Nittany Lions, to Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday night to take on #1-ranked Iowa. How'd it go? Well, just like every other time a Cael Sanderson-coached team took on a Tom Brands-coached Iowa team: he lost. This time, in fact, he didn't just lose -- he got his ass straight up handed to him and Iowa got its 56th straight dual meet victory. And just like it did when he coached Iowa State, it felt gooood. If beating Cael ever stops being fun -- nah, fuck that, it'll never stop being fun. Still, while the outcome of the meet wasn't really in doubt (especially after 157), the meet wasn't without drama. Three of the matches ended in upsets (including both of Penn State's wins) and four of the matches (141, 157, 165, 184) went right down to the final whistle (or beyond, in the case of 141).
Oh, and props to the student section for some of the chants tonight. "Cael's for sale," "Cael's a sellout, " and "Cael's no Gable" were pretty great.
(all rankings from InterMat)
125: #4 Matt McDonough dec. #12 Brad Pataky, 7-2 (3-0 Iowa)
133: #6 Dan Dennis maj dec. Bryan Pearsall, 17-7 (7-0 Iowa)
141: Adam Lynch dec. #5 Montell Marion, 8-6 (OT) (7-3 Iowa)
149: #1 Bren Metcalf PIN #5 Frank Molinaro (3:56) (13-3 Iowa)
157: Jake Kerr dec. #5 Cyler Sanderson, 4-2 (16-3 Iowa)
165: #5 Ryan Morningstar dec. #8 Dan Vallimont, 2-0 (19-3 Iowa)
174: #2 Jay Borschel maj dec Justin Ortega, 14-2 (23-3 Iowa)
184: #13 David Erwin dec. #7 Phil Keddy, 6-4 (23-6 Iowa)
197: Luke Lofthouse dec. Clay Steadman, 5-2 (26-6 Iowa)
Hwt: #9 Dan Erekson dec. #11 Cameron Wade, 6-1 (29-6 Iowa)
- Jake Kerr's win over Sanderson was tremendous, for a number of reasons. It canceled out Penn State's upset at 141, it effectively locked up the meet for Iowa (if PSU couldn't even win the one match where they were heavily favored, the odds of them winning enough of the remaining five matches to win the meet were pretty damn slim), it got the team and the crowd fired up heading into intermission, and it was arguably the worst guy in our line-up beating Sanderson's own brother. I was initially surprised that Brands sent Kerr out instead of Janssen, but he clearly saw it as a more favorable match-up for Kerr -- which it most certainly was. Things still appear very unsettled at 157, but the good news is that we're getting actual results out of whoever gets tabbed at that weight, which is a pleasant surprise. It would be great to see one guy take control of the weight and go on a winning streak, but for now this mix-and-match approach appears to be working alright.
- Brent Metcalf was back to his soul-destroying best. His favorite PSU whipping boy, Bubba Jenkins, may be sadly departed, but he had no difficulty mauling #5 Frank Molinaro and showed no ill effects from the knee to the head just five days ago. He used his strength and slick technique to record a handful of takedowns in the first round, then decided to stop fucking around and end the match decisively with a swift and gorgeous pin less than a minute into the second period. Molinaro's no jobber, but Metcalf treated him like one.
- Matt McDonough continued his winning ways as well, with a decisive 7-2 win in the meet's opening match. No bonus points this time for McD, but he outclassed Pataky from the opening whistle and never appeared to be in much danger.
- The Dennis and Borschel matches looked like gross mismatches on paper (highly ranked and experienced Iowa guys taking on unranked freshman PSU dudes) and the matches played out exactly like that: Dennis played the takedown/cut game with Pearsall and eventually accumulated enough points for the major decision, while Borschel just opted to physically manhandle Ortega. He rode him for nearly five minutes and was constantly trying to turn him and get a pin on the ground; he succeeded in getting nearfall points, but couldn't get the pin. Maybe next time, JayBo.
- Morningstar was his usual self, but he made it work for himself this time. His superior defense and smothering ability to ride a dude out proved decisive. More offense too close blah blah blah.
- Erekson looked excellent until injuring his knee late in the third period; his combination of strength and quickness is deadly among the usual lumbering clods of the heavyweight division. He was able to take Wade down with ease in the early going. Hopefully the knee injury he sustained is nothing serious because a healthy Erekson is a fearsome (and awesome) sight to behold.
- Montell Marion... WTF, dude? After his second-period pin in the Purdue dual last Sunday, he ascended to #5 in the national rankings and looked like he had figured things out and was settling into his role. Andy Hamilton even wrote a glowing profile about him today:
Marion followed up the victory against Parks by throttling Michigan's Mark Weber 19-6 and decking 17th-ranked Archuleta on Sunday. He said it's helped to break things down to a simple philosophy: I've done the work, now go perform.
"(The coaches have) given me some helpful things, but mostly, it's just me figuring out what it takes and what I need to do and the mindset I need to be in that's gotten me to another level," Marion said. "At this point, I feel like it's going to be hard (for opponents) to deal with that level and that confidence when I go out there and wrestle that way."
Something tells me that confidence took a hit after his performance tonight. To his credit, Lynch wrestled pretty well: he defended Marion's shots well for the most part and his own moves were well-taken. His winning takedown was controversial, but that's largely irrelevant: Marion has beaten guys far better than him in recent weeks and should have been able to beat Lynch as well. But he looked like a guy who'd been reading his own press clippings and was convinced that as the #5-ranked wrestler in the country he'd just roll through an unranked kid with a losing record overall. Unfortunately, it still hasn't clicked for him that he needs to have the same mindset against lesser opponents that he has against the big boys. Consistency remains his biggest flaw.
- Likewise, consistency remains Keddy's big bugaboo this year. It seemed like he was turning the corner last weekend, but perhaps not. He once again had trouble finishing shots and again gave up a third period takedown to cost himself a victory. Come back soon, old Phil Keddy -- we miss you.
Yes, Bubba's gone, but I've been dying for an excuse to run that pic for months. So nyah.
- Also sublime? Tom Brands' method for choosing who goes at 157. Last Friday it was a a piece of paper hidden in one of his hands (Kerr picked wrong). Sunday it was a literal coin-flip (Kerr's side came up). Tonight it was drawing a name out of a hat (Janssen got two entries as the #1 guy, while Kerr only got one); Brands drew out Kerr's name. I think "eeny, meeny, minny, moe" is next, followed by rock, paper, scissors.
Unranked Michigan State at 6pm CST on Sunday, January 31. No IPTV coverage; just live streaming on BTN.com for $2.99. The bout to watch is Dan Dennis-Franklin Gomez at 133 (Gomez is #1 in the nation); other than that it should be an Iowa rout.