One of the archaic meanings of the word "buffalo," when used as a verb, is "to pistol-whip." Which is a pretty good way to describe what the Iowa wrestlers did to the Bulls on Thursday night. Not only did they win all ten matches, but they picked up bonus points in all ten bouts, too. Not a single match was close. Iowa grabbed a pair of pins from Mike Kelly and Derek St. John, a pair of technical falls from Tony Ramos and Mike Evans, and major decisions from the other six wrestlers who got the nod. It all added up to a thorough drubbing of a not-very-good Buffalo team.
The lopsided win was a nice rebound performance from Iowa's uncomfortably close 22-19 dual meet victory over Edinboro a week ago, but it's also not a result that we should probably put a lot of stock in. Buffalo was, to put it kindly, way out of their depth in this meet. Iowa brought eight ranked wrestlers to the mat tonight; Buffalo brought zero. Almost every starter for Iowa should easily qualify for the NCAA Tournament; Buffalo's wrestlers are more likely to be watching the tourney from the same place as you and i will be: the couch. So a serving of Iowa domination was certainly not unexpected tonight.
That said, while the results tonight may not be all that important, the attitudes on display certainly were and on that front the Iowa wrestlers passed with flying colors. There was a an aggressive, attacking flair on display tonight that hasn't been seen often enough in Iowa City -- not this year, nor in recent seasons past. Iowa got takedowns almost immediately off the opening whistle in nearly every match and they continued to push the pace and look for more, more, more : more takedowns, more back points, more pins. Sure, the opposition tonight was :just Buffalo and we need to see that same aggressiveness and that same attacking mindset against stiffer competition, but it was still exciting to see Iowa guys wrestle with a fire under their asses. Too often in the last few weeks (and years), Iowa wrestlers have looked passive; they've waited for the action of the match to come to them, rather than trying to dictate the action themselves. That wasn't the case tonight.
(Tessa Hursh / The Daily Iowan)
On a night when everyone secures bonus points for the team, it's not easy to single out one individual as a top performer, but in this case I'd have to go with Sammy Brooks. Iowa's much heralded redshirt freshman 184er has been pressed into service at 197 early in the season, while nominal starter Nathan Burak continues to sit out while dealing with an ailment, and he continues to do a solid job. What made his performance stand out tonight was his approach to the third period. Brooks led 2-1 after the first period and essentially had a 3-1 lead in hand after riding his opponent for the entire second period. Rather than settle for an easy decision victory, though, Brooks hit another gear in the third and was able to break his opponent's spirit on the way to a 13-5 major decision victory. He ran a takedown clinic in the third period and that approach is wonderful to see.
In addition to Brooks' strong efforts, shoutouts to Mike Kelly and Bobby Telford are also in order. Kelly returned to the lineup at 149 and managed to pick up a pinfall victory (one of two on the night for Iowa), while Telford made his long-awaited return to the lineup (he hadn't wrestled since the Iowa City Duals almost a month ago) and steamrolled his opponent on his way to a 16-3 major decision. It was encouraging to see Telford shake off the rust and put together such a dominant performance, even against a clearly overmatched opponent.
As for the rest of Iowa's lineup... Cory Clark made his own return to the lineup and picked up a solid 13-3 major decision win, although he slowed down a bit after a hot start to the match. Tony Ramos toyed with his poor opponent on the way to a 22-7 technical fall, emphatically bouncing back from his stunning loss to Edinboro's A.J. Schopp a week ago. Josh Dziewa once again brought the funk to his match and while that meant he managed to put himself in some troublesome positions, he was also able to score out of them on more than one occasion, cruising to a 16-7 major decision win. Derek St. John wins the award for quickest pin of the night, sticking his opponent in just 2:02; maybe DSJ had somewhere to be tonight. Nick Moore put together a workmanlike 13-4 major decision of his own, while Mike Evans abused poor Rrok Ndokaj on his way to a 23-6 technical fall victory of his own. Ethen Lofthouse kept the bonus point train rolling with an 18-6 major decision win of his own and then Brooks and Telford ended the night with their already-discussed wins.
Again, this result isn't worth thinking about too much -- Buffalo was arguably the worst team left on Iowa's schedule (give or take Purdue) and Iowa manhandled them in exactly the way we would have hoped that they would. But the attacking mindset on display here, the near-constant push for more points, that is worth thinking about and worth enjoying. If the Iowa wrestlers can bring that attitude more consistently this year, Iowa should be able to put together a very good season.
IOWA 46, BUFFALO 0
125: #4 Cory Clark MAJ DEC (13-3) UN Max Soria (IOWA 4-0)
133: #3 Tony Ramos TECH FALL (22-7) UN Justin Farmer (IOWA 9-0)
141: #10 Josh Dziewa MAJ DEC (16-7) UN Nick Flannery (IOWA 13-0)
149: UN Mike Kelly FALL (4:03) UN Ryan Todora (IOWA 19-0)
157: #1 Derek St. John FALL (2:02) UN Jake Capana (IOWA 25-0)
165: #4 Nick Moore MAJ DEC (13-4) UN Wally Maziarz (IOWA 29-0)
174: #6 Mike Evans TECH FALL (23-6) UN Rrok Ndokaj (IOWA 34-0)
184: #1 Ethen Lofthouse MAJ DEC (18-6) UN Tony Lock (IOWA 38-0)
197: UN Sammy Brooks MAJ DEC (13-5) UN Angelo Malvestuto (IOWA 42-0)
285: #3 Bobby Telford MAJ DEC (16-3) UN James Benjamin (IOWA 46-0)
NEXT: Oh, just a little dual meet with Penn State next Saturday night. Perhaps you've heard about it.
BONUS! Hawkeye Sports has highlights from the dual and from Tom Brands' post-meet presser:
"They had, like, dinosaur arms."
I love you, Tom Brands.