We Must Break You is the weekly round-up of news regarding the Iowa wrestling program, a breakdown of the rankings, and a look ahead to the weekend's action. Feel free to send any links, tips, suggestions, complaints, or bribes to firstname.lastname@example.org
IOWA 39, UNI 0: Hit the brutalist bricks, Panthers. The Iowa wrestling team took their show on the road to Cedar Falls and a date with former UI assistant Doug Schwab's UNI Panthers. The result was fairly predictable: Iowa domination. Your obligatory winning streak update: 68 in a row overall, 44 road meets in a row, and at least 40 (I think) meets in a row against non-Big Ten foes..
133: #10 Tony Ramos MAJ DEC (12-3) Ryan Jauch (IOWA, 4-0)
141: #13 Mark Ballweg DEC (3-0) Aaron Senzee (IOWA, 7-0)
149: Jeret Chiri FALL (5:59) Jamal Lawrence (IOWA, 13-0)
157: #7 Derek St. John DEC (8-4) David Bonin (IOWA, 16-0)
165: Aaron Janssen DEC (4-0) Nick Pickerell (IOWA, 19-0)
174: Ethen Lofthouse MAJ DEC (16-5) Brice Wolf (IOWA, 23-0)
184: #6 Grant Gambrall DEC (4-2) Ryan Loder (IOWA, 26-0)
197: #12 Luke Lofthouse MAJ DEC (19-7) Joe Johnson (IOWA, 30-0)
HWT: #17 Blake Rasing DEC (2-0) #16 Christian Brantley (IOWA, 33-0)
125: #1 Matt McDonough FALL (1:12) Terrance Young (IOWA, 39-0)
There's not a lot to be upset about when you steamroll an opponent 39-0, you know? The result of this meet was never in doubt (even before it started) and if there was any lingering thoughts about UNI's ability to pull off the upset, they were conclusively extinguished by a third-period pin in the third match of the night by the much-maligned Jeret Chiri. When the worst starter on Iowa's team is getting a pin, you know the rout is on.
If there was a theme to the evening, it was the sight of UNI wrestlers gassing out and giving up bushels of points late in matches. Ramos, Chiri, and both Lofthouses took advantage of that to build on their leads and rack up bonus points (Ballweg and Janssen didn't take advantage of that, but their opponents weren't any more active than the guys that Ramos, Chiri, and the Lofthouses abused). Perhaps the strangest thing about the evening was that two of Iowa's highest-ranked wrestlers (DSJ and Gambrall) didn't use and abuse exhausted opponents in the third period on their way to comfortable bonus point wins; in fact, if anything, they seemed to be the ones who were out of gas. Gambrall got nailed with a stalling penalty late in the match and DSJ got caught up in a few hairy situations near the end of his match. It may just be a fluke -- DSJ didn't look gassed when he came back to dominate David Cheza in the third period last weekend -- but it was the only thing that put a damper on this evening's result.
There are a few different ways to go with handing out man of the meet commendations. You could go with the most dominating performance (probably Matt McDonough's manhandling of Young at 125) or you could go with the guys who racked up the most takedowns (the Lofthouses). I'd rather single out Jeret Chiri for praise; no one endured a worse weekend than he did last week and he gave up an early takedown last night -- yet he responded to dominate the match from that point and finally locked Lawrence in a slick move to get a pin. He may still be on the wrong end of some lopsided beatings and he probably isn't the long-term future of this weight (or possibly even the short-term future; see below), but for one night at least he was as good as anyone in an Iowa singlet. But kudos also to McDonough for doing what a team leader should do (dominate) and to the Lofthouses for pouring it on after their opponents had checked out (they put on takedown clinics in their matches after their opponents had been broken). Finally, Rasing notched Iowa's only win over a ranked wrestler (which is good), but the match itself was a sterling example of the soul-crushing tedium that is most heavyweight wrestling (which is bad).
What this team needs is MORE BALLWEG. No, really, it probably does. And lucky for us, Matt Ballweg (the eldest of the three Ballwegs on the Iowa wrestling team) is doing his damndest to make that happen by cutting weight to get from 157 lbs. to 149 lbs. With Dylan Carew's ACLs mutinying against him and Jeret Chiri proving to be woefully overmatched against legit competition last weekend, Iowa's in dire need of more options at 149 -- if only to keep the losses there at mere decisions rather than at bonus point-costing drubbings.
"He's a seasoned guy who's probably wishing he would have done it earlier," Brands said about Ballweg's decision. "We've got to add some depth there and a guy who's seasoned."
Brands said the decision to make the cut was a mutual one between coach and wrestler but said Ballweg approached him first.
Ballweg said he wants the chance to re-enter the lineup in the final year of his Hawkeye wrestling career. He was 10-4 in collegiate competition as a redshirt freshman and 11-17 as a sophomore, but wasn't a regular starter last season, wrestling in only seven matches and winning four of them.
Ballweg struggled when he saw the mat two years ago at 157 lbs., but the scuttlebutt then was that he wasn't really big enough for 157 and that his natural weight was probably 149 (unfortunately that spot was manned by The Destroyer Of Worlds And Devourer Of Souls at that point). So one hopes that might be able to do a bit better at 149 this year, assuming the weight cut doesn't leave him a wreck. If nothing else, the bar for success isn't set terribly high for 149 right now -- just avoiding getting completely manhandled the way Chiri was last weekend would be a step in the right direction. The move would also give us back-to-back Ballweg action in the line-up (with younger brother Mark at 141), which would be kinda cool. Matt Ballweg isn't expected to debut at 149 until the Midlands Tournament at the end of the month.
Putting things in numerical order is fun. Your weekly rankings round-up:
TEAM: #7 (Intermat) / #6 (NWCA/USA Today) / #7 (d1collegewrestling) / #5 (TheOpenMat)
INDIV (Intermat / TheOpenMat / d1collegewrestling / AWN)
125: Matt McDonough (#1 / #1 / #1 / #1)
133: Tony Ramos (#10 / #9 / #11 / none)
141: Mark Ballweg (#13 / #12 / #12 / #17)
157: Derek St. John (#7 / #7 / #10 / #12)
165: Jake Kerr (#11 / #12 / #11 / #15)
174: Ethen Lofthouse (none / #19 / #24 / none)
184: Grant Gambrall (#6 / #7 / #5 / #9)
197: Luke Lofthouse (#12 / #18 / #14 / #18)
HWT: Blake Rasing (#17 / #12 / #15 / #16)
So what changed? The team ranking is basically the same as last week. No change for McD. Ramos replaces Nate Moore as the ranked wrestler at 133, although AWN appears to be just ignoring Iowa's 133 guys entirely -- at least until they settle on someone. Ballweg enters the rankings for the first time after his impressive 2-0 weekend. 149 remains the lineup's black hole. DSJ and Gambrall move up slightly after notching 2-0 records on the weekend. Kerr and Luke Lofthouse move down slightly in most rankings after disappointing weekends, although both weirdly moved up in Intermat's rankings, and Lofthouse went from unranked to #18 in AWN's rankings. Okay then. Rasing and Ethen Lofthouse also moved down after underwhelming weekends.
Next? Iowa's off for the next three weeks before returning to action at the Midlands Championships, which are once again being held in the armpit of Illinois (Evanston). Iowa's the three-time defending champion there, but whether they're able to defend their title or not, the tournament should give us a much clearer idea of how good this team is -- and provide some clarity at weights like 133 and 165. But we'll do a more thorough preview of that event in the next few weeks.