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Friday Night Smackdown: Iowa Wrestling Pulverizes Indiana, 35-6

Another week, another Friday night massacre for the #2 Iowa wrestling team.  A week after dispatching #17 Northwestern 31-9, Iowa returned to Carver-Hawkeye Arena (and the newly-dubbed Mediacom Mat) and demolished Indiana, 35-6.  It was a meet Iowa was expected to win handily, but any possible drama evaporated after Iowa wrestlers lodged bonus points in their first three wins and scored three pins in the first five matches of the meet.  In all, Iowa won eight of ten matches and scored bonus points in five matches.  It was a thorough ass-kicking.  

In the face of such domination, it's hard to single out any single wrestler for Man of the Match honors, but a little extra recognition is certainly owed to Derek St. John and Luke Lofthouse, who each scored a win over an opponent ranked in the top-five, a feat neither man had managed to accomplish this season until last night.  For Lofthouse, the win represented a breakthrough in a career that has been replete with near-misses against top-ranked competition; for once "The Leg" was able to not just get an opponent's leg -- but finish.  He had four takedowns in the match.  

For DSJ, the match was his third straight (and third in the span of a week) against a top-ten wrestler and he was able to finish that run with a 2-1 record, which includes last night's impressive pin over #5 Paul Young.  As disappointing as the loss to Taylor was, St. John's wins over jNW's Jason Welch and Indiana's Young have been impressive and very encouraging.  He's finally starting to look like the force we hoped he could be before the season started.  I picked against both Lofthouse and DSJ in my preview yesterday, but I'm once again more than happy to eat a little crow.  I'll think twice about picking them  to lose going forward, even against nominally favored opponents. 

Iowa 35, Indiana 6
125: #1 
Matt McDonough FALL (5:59) Justin Brooks (Iowa, 6-0)
133: #8
Tony Ramos FALL (6:26) Matt Ortega (Iowa, 12-0)
141: #3 
Montell Marion MAJ DEC (13-5) Mitchell Richey (Iowa, 16-0)
149: #14
Kurt Kinser DEC (2-0) Matt Ballweg (Iowa, 16-3)
157: #9
Derek St. John FALL (6:20) #5 Paul Young (Iowa, 22-3)
165: #13
Aaron Janssen MAJ DEC (14-5) Ryan LeBlanc (Iowa, 26-3)
Jake Kerr DEC (5-1) Nick Avery (Iowa, 29-3)
184: #13
Grant Gambrall DEC (5-3) Eric Cameron (Iowa, 32-3)
197: #12
Luke Lofthouse DEC (10-5) #5 Matt Powless (Iowa, 35-3)
HWT: #9
Ricky Alcala DEC (6-5) Blake Rasing (Iowa, 35-6)

Meanwhile, weight-by-weight thoughts:

125: Another match, another pin.  That's four in a row for McD and five in his last six matches.  He's a force of nature at this point.  The match itself was utter domination from him and he did whatever he wanted -- takedowns, reversals, nearfalls.  The only question was whether he'd lock up a technical fall before he could secure a pinfall.

133: Meanwhile, Ramos' steady improvement continued with another impressive win.  Ortega's not a very good opponent, but Ramos absolutely thrashed him and displayed an impressive attacking attitude throughout the match.  He's turning into a very nice little force at 133.

141: Less than a week after his (sort of) surprised return at Penn State, Marion made his home debut with a solid major decision win.  He was sloppy at times in finishing takedowns (and allowing one against him), but he came through with a strong third period to lock up the major decision.  It shouldn't be much of a surprise that he's rusty after that extended lay-off.

149: In one of the two surprise line-up choices of the night, Matt Ballweg got the nod over his younger brother Mark and struggled to a less-than-thrilling 2-0 loss.  It's unclear why Ballweg the Elder got the nod here, but he certainly didn't do much to prove why he ought to keep his spot.  At this point, Ballweg the Younger really does seem like the best option at this weight -- even if he is undersized.

157: Discussed above, but again: very impressive win for DSJ.  The pin was no fluke or miracle, either; he was absolutely dominating Young in the match and was on his way to a bonus point win anyway.  Really, really good stuff out of DSJ and I'm happy to be proven wrong for having a few doubts about him.

165: For two periods, this appeared to be on the way to being yet another ho-hum Janssen decision victory.  Then the third period hit and Janssen exploded for four takedowns and an escape (and a riding time point thrown in for good measure).  That's just... wow.  I have no idea what got into Janssen in that period -- but it sure would be nice if it would happen more often.

174: Meanwhile, Janssen's former sparring partner at 157 and 165, Jake Kerr, got the nod at 174 because Ethen Lofthouse was apparently out of commission after having some wisdom teeth pulled earlier in the week.  Like Janssen, Kerr waited 'til late to turn on the offense -- like last five seconds in the match late.  But better late than never.

184: Gambrall busted out to a 4-1 lead through two periods, then had to hang on for a 5-3 win.  His results have been strange this year.  He's won the vast majority of his matches, but he often does so in unimpressive fashion and he seems very loathe to pour on his offense.  Frankly, he's just a bit of an enigma.

197: Again, covered above but a really, really nice win for Lofthouse.  He's one of the great stories on this Hawkeye team, a guy who's fought and scrapped his way to be where he is now and a guy who win through hard work and hustle rather than overwhelming natural ability.  It's difficult not to admire Lofthouse, so it's nice to see all that hard work pay off with a win over a top-ranked foe.  Hopefully he can continue to build on his performance going forward.

HWT: Yet another close but no cigar match for our favorite shaved bear in a singlet.  At the moment, Rasing's lack of early offense is killing him in matches against good foes.  He either can't get anything going at all (see: the Wade match last week) or can't get anything going until he's already dug himself a sizable hole (see: last night's match). It's frustrating to watch and he remains on the verge of turning the corner and winning some of those matches.  But he hasn't had that breakthrough yet.

NEXT: A February 11th road trip to take on OMHR, currently ranked #24 by NWCA, despite being winless in Big Ten competition. It's probably pretty safe to expect another rout.  On February 13 (1pm CST), Iowa returns home for Senior Day against #13 Michigan, which should be much more interesting.  Frustratingly, there's currently no BTN or coverage announced for either event right now.