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
First, the bad news. I mentioned it briefly in the round-up of last Friday's dual meets, but word came down early in the week that Dylan Carew is going to need ACL surgery -- on not one, but both of his knees. Apparently AIRBHG is branching out into new sports:
Carew said he’ll likely undergo surgery this week on both knees and will miss the remainder of the season, his first as a starter for the Hawkeyes.
"Basically, what doctors are saying and a couple of the people I’ve been listening to and taking their advice, they’re saying it’s going to be pretty hard, near impossible to wrestle with both injuries at the same time," Carew said. "I knew I could wrestle with one. I had done it before, and I was going to try to do it. I was doing it and I was doing fine with it. … I can compensate for one leg, but as soon as I start trying to compensate for both at the same time, it’s only a matter of time, really, until something bad happens again."
Wrestling on one good ACL? HARDCORE. (Of course, he'd done it before -- and won a freaking state title -- in high school.) But wrestling on NO good ACLs? Uh, not happening. Godspeed, Dylan, and good luck with the rehab -- rehabbing two knees should be incredibly excruciating.
Needless to say, this is bad news, since this Iowa roster can ill-afford to lose too many projected starters. On the other hand, this also isn't a weight where we were expecting big things. Back in the 149 preview, we went with "NCAA Tournament qualifier and 4th at the Big Ten Tournament" as the reasonable expectation, which isn't that much. The ceiling is probably lower with Jeret Chiri manning this weight instead, but until we see him in action for a few more duals, it's difficult to say how good he might be. In any event, if Iowa wants repeat as NCAA and Big Ten champions they're going to need other weights to step up and get points -- but that was true even before Carew went down. We simply weren't expecting too many points out of this weight, given the fierce competition at a national and conference level.
Then the old news. GETIT? BECAUSE LUKE LOFTHOUSE IS OLD LAWL. No, really, he's getting a little long in the tooth to be an undergrad:
Lofthouse is 25. He’s married and has a nephew on the Iowa roster. He’s a seventh-year senior in a lineup loaded with first-time starters, many of whom were in junior high when Lofthouse first joined the Hawkeyes.
"There’s a lot of respect and reverence there," Iowa coach Tom Brands said. "It’s almost like a grandpa, even though he’s not even close to that age."
Seventh-year senior! Even Jess Settles is a little envious of that plan, man. So how long has Lofthouse been around (although "around" is a little bit of a misnomer when he spent two years in Zimbabwe on a Mormon mission)? Well, not quite since the Dan Gable era, but still pretty long:
Lofthouse might be the NCAA record holder for most wrestling teammates at one school. He’s had 90 teammates with the Hawkeyes, including seven sets of brothers. His biological nephew, Ethen, is Iowa’s starter at 174, although they’ve lived together for so long they consider themselves brothers.
In fact, he's been around so long he was on the Iowa team the last time they lost to Iowa State in a dual... and that hasn't happened since Bush the Younger was getting ready for his second term, Drew Tate was a plucky young quarterback, and Curt Schilling's bloody sock was all the rage. Still, for as much fun as it is to crack jokes about him having been around forever, we sincerely hope he can go out on a high note this year -- not because we might need him to do so to have a shot at a fourth-straight national title (though that would be nice), but because he bloody deserves it for being here so long.
Rankings are fun. So where's Iowa stand in the rankings at this young point in the season?
TEAM: #8 (Intermat) / #6 (NWCA/USA Today) / #7 (d1collegewrestling) / #5 (TheOpenMat)
INDIV (Intermat / TheOpenMat / d1collegewrestling / AWN)
125: Matt McDonough (#1 / #1 / #1 / #1)
133: Nate Moore (#9 / #10 / none* / none)
157: Derek St. John (#9 / #9 / #10 / #14)
165: Jake Kerr (#15 / #7 / #7 / #13)
174: Ethen Lofthouse (#20 / #16 / #19 / #18)
184: Grant Gambrall (#7 / #9 / #7 / #12)
197: Luke Lofthouse (#13 / #14 / #11 / none)
HWT: Blake Rasing (#15 / #11 / #15 / #15)
* - d1collegewrestling has Tyler Clark ranked at #10.
Not a ton of difference from their preseason rankings, largely because they haven't wrestled anyone of note yet. That will change in the weeks ahead.
Previewin'. For the sake of convenience, I'm just going to use the Intermat rankings here. Up first this weekend is the annual hatefest with #21 Iowa State tonight (7pm CST). It's a blackout event, so wear black if you're headed to Carver. If you're looking to watch the game on the tube (or your computer):
Television - Friday night's dual with Iowa State will be televised live on Mediacom Connections, and delayed on Iowa Public Television Dec. 6 at 8 p.m. (CT). Tim Johnson, former Hawkeye Head Coach Dan Gable and former Cyclone Head Coach Jim Gibbons will call the action.
Internet - Both duals will be streamed live on bigtennetwork.com. Broadcasts are available using a conference pass ($99.95 annually or $12.95 monthly) or a school pass ($64.95 annually or $7.95 monthly).
Iowa's won the last six in a row in the series and, based on the rankings, should win again. But sometimes weird things happen during the Iowa-Iowa State dual and with the way this week is going for Iowa athletics, well...
125: #1 Matt McDonough (SO) (4-0) vs. Ryak Finch (FR) (0-0) or Patrick Hunter (SO) (5-4)
-- Finch is a highly-touted freshman who was expected to redshirt this season, so it would be a surprise to see him wrestle here. Hunter has had four matches against Top 20 competition already this year -- and lost all four. Three of the losses were by major decision or fall. Needless to say, we like McD's chances here.
RESULT: MCD VIA MAJ DEC (4-0, IOWA)
133: #9 Nate Moore (SO) (7-1) or Tony Ramos (SO) (1-0) vs. Brandon Jones (FR) (2-5) or Ben Cash (RS FR) (2-3)
-- Neither Jones nor Cash has been too impressive this year. Since suffering a semi-fluke pin to Minnesota's Bart Reiter early in the season, Moore's been on a tear -- seven straight wins, including three major decisions and two pins. Granted, the competition hasn't been great, but he's still wrestling well.
RESULT: IOWA VIA DEC (7-0, IOWA)
141: Mark Ballweg (SO) (4-0) vs. #11 Chris Drouin (SR) (5-2)
-- Ballweg's been a pleasant surprise thus far for Iowa, although he hasn't exactly been tested much, either. Drouin ought to be significant step up in competition. Drouin has two losses, but both came against Top 20 competition. This match should give us a good read on how good Ballweg might be this year.
RESULT: DROUIN VIA DEC (7-3, IOWA)
149: Jeret Chiri (SO) (2-0) vs. #16 Nate Carr, Jr. (SR) (7-1) or Max Mayfield (SO) (12-3)
-- Chiri wrestled well in relief of Carew last weekend, but that was against Cornell and Chattanooga. Either Carr or Mayfield should pose much more of a threat. Carr and Mayfield have gaudy records but a lot of that has come from facing less-than-stellar opposition thus far. Call this one a coin-flip.
RESULT: ISU VIA DEC (7-6, IOWA)
157: #9 Derek St. John (RS FR) (4-0) vs. Trent Weatherman (RS FR) (8-5)
-- St. John and Weatherman both come from the Iowa high school ranks, so they've been around the block against one another in the past. Weatherman has been a mixed bag this year, so it's hard to know what to expect from him. So far DSJ has largely lived up to expectations, albeit against unremarkable competition. Still, he's seemed a bit more consistent so far this year.
RESULT: DSJ VIA DEC (10-6, IOWA)
165: #15 Jake Kerr (SR) (3-0) or Aaron Janssen (SR) (6-1) vs. #16 Andrew Sorenson (SR) (4-2)
-- Kerr and Janssen have both gotten off to strong starts this year and Sorenson hasn't been too bad himself. This one's probably another toss-up, but we're going to edge Iowa here.
RESULT: IOWA VIA DEC (13-6, IOWA)
174: #20 Ethen Lofthouse (RS FR) (4-0) vs. #3 Jon Reader (SR) (11-0)
-- Lofthouse has gotten off to a great start -- all four wins have garnered bonus points for Iowa (two pins, one technical fall, and one major decision) -- but Reader will be a quantum leap in terms of opposition. Reader has a gaudy record but much of that has come against lesser competition; still it's awful tough to pick a redshirt freshman over a talented senior.
RESULT: READER VIA DEC (13-9, IOWA)
184: #7 Grant Gambrall (SO) (4-0) vs. Kyven Gadon (FR) (n/a) or Cole Shafer (RS FR) (n/a) or Matt Riley (FR) (1-0)
-- Gambrall's yet another Iowa guy off to a solid start; three of his four wins have come with bonus points (two major decisions and a tech fall) and the lone win where he didn't pick up bonus points came against another ranked opponent (Chattanooga's Jason McCroskey). He appears to be a few cuts above Iowa State's options here.
RESULT: GAMBRALL VIA MAJ DEC (17-9, IOWA)
197: #13 Luke Lofthouse (SR) (4-0) vs. #12 Jerome Ward (JR) (9-2)
-- Yet another virtual toss-up. Lofthouse the Elder has been schooling fools so far (two major decisions, one tech fall, one pin), but again not the best competition. Still, there's nothing on Ward's record to suggest that Lofthouse can't beat him.
RESULT: LOFTHOUSE VIA DEC (20-9, IOWA)
HWT: #15 Blake Rasing (JR) (4-0) vs. #20 Matt Gibson (SO) or Kyle Simonson (JR) (12-1) or Kyle Slifka (SR) (n/a)
-- Hooray for a return to ponderous, lumbering heavyweight action! Who liked watching a quicker, more action-oriented guy like Dan Erekson anyway? Oh, right, everyone. Anyway, Rasing's our guy, even if he look more than a little like a shaved bear stuffed in a singlet (and moves like one, too). We've gone Iowa's way a few times on the toss-up matches and this is another toss-up so we should probably go with ISU here.
RESULT: ISU VIA DEC (20-12, IOWA)
That would be yet another dual meet win for Iowa -- their 66th in a row. It's no sure thing, as there are a handful of toss-up matches in there that could certainly go either way (and upsets can always throw a monkeywrench in things), but Iowa seems to have the better team.
The Michigan State dual should be far less competitive and I'm not going to bother doing a weight-by-weight preview of that one. David Cheza (149) is the only Sparty wrestler ranked in the top 20 at his weight by Intermat; he should be a handful for Chiri. Two other MSU wrestlers, Ian Hinton (184) and Tyler Dickenson (197) are ranked in the low teens by other ranking services, which puts them below the Iowa starters at those weights. Iowa will be a decided favorite in this meet and while they probably won't win 37-0 as they did a year ago, they should still win comfortably. That dual is Saturday at 7pm CST and is also available on bigtennetwork.com ($$$).