There weren't too many upsets where Iowa was involved in the first two rounds of action in the Big Ten Tournament -- which is good because the Hawkeyes were the higher-seeded wrestler (and favored) at nearly every match in these first two rounds. In fact, there were just two upsets for the good guys -- #6 Josh Dziewa knocked off #3 Anthony Abidin (Nebraska) in the quarterfinals at 141 and #5 Cory Clark avenged a regular season loss to #4 Jonni DiJulius at 133. Both results were very nice, but I'm not sure either win came as a huge surprise.
Abidin was the #3 seed but he had benefited from Nebraska's cushy schedule this season (no Ohio State, no Minnesota, no Penn State, no Iowa) and there really isn't a huge difference between him and Jeva. Likewise, a #5 beating a #4 is hardly much of an upset and Clark was very close to beating DiJulius the first time around. In that match, Clark dug an early hole for himself and was unable to escape; this time he wrestled a smarter, controlled match and while it lacked for much in the way of fireworks (there were no takedowns and hardly any particularly good shots from either guy), it was grimly effective (Clark won with an escape and a riding time point after riding DiJulius for the entire third period).
Unfortunately, Iowa was on the wrong side of upsets at two other weights, with #7 Nick Moore falling to #10 Pat Robinson, 7-3, in the first round and, most shockingly, #1 Sammy Brooks losing 6-4 in sudden victory to #8 Matt McCutcheon in the quarterfinals. Both losses stung, but the Brooks one has far greater repercussions for Iowa's Big Ten title aspirations. The Moore loss hurts Iowa, but he was expected to lose in the next round anyway, so Iowa isn't losing a ton of expected points from him on the championship side of the bracket. He was always going to have to do most of his damage in the consolation bracket. (That said, on current form, that looks like a big ask from Moore, too...) The loss by Brooks is a much bigger blow, though; he seemed like Iowa's best bet to make the Big Ten finals tomorrow and should have racked up plenty of points for Iowa in the championship side of the bracket. Now he's going to have to put in a lot of work on the consolation side of the bracket.
Moore's loss came down to him wrestling the same way we've seen him wrestle far too often this year -- slowly and without much fire. I'm not sure what's wrong with Moore, but he's running out of time to fix it (if it even can be fixed this year). Brooks' loss seemed to be a result of him letting off the gas near the end of the match -- McCutcheon scored the tying takedown in the final seconds of the third period, then rode that momentum to the winning takedown in sudden victory. Brooks got out to an early lead, but wasn't able to extend it, which ended up being costly. Hopefully he remembers to keep the pedal down in his remaining matches at the Big Ten Tournament -- Iowa is likely going to need every point they can get from him the rest of the way.
125: #1 Thomas Gilman MAJ DEC (23-1) UN Mitch Rogaliner
133: #5 Cory Clark MAJ DEC (12-1) #12 Geoff Alexander
141: #6 Josh Dziewa MAJ DEC (11-3) #11 Javier Gasca III
149: #1 Brandon Sorensen wins via INJ DEF UN Jake Short
157: #7 Mike Kelly DEC (11-10 OT) #10 Lou Mascala
165: #10 Pat Robinson DEC (7-4) #7 Nick Moore
174: #3 Mike Evans had a BYE
184: #1 Sammy Brooks had a BYE
197: #4 Nathan Burak MAJ DEC (14-3) #13 Rob Fitzgerald
285: #4 Bobby Telford FALL (2:16) #13 Garret Goldman
As noted, aside from that Nick Moore loss at 165, the first round went very well for Iowa. They had 7 wins (6 via bonus points) and two byes at the other nine weights. And the one win without bonus points may have been the most exciting match of the day for Iowa -- Mike Kelly went down 5-0 early after giving up a big move, then battled back to win the match 11-10 in overtime. There was nothing flashy about his comeback -- he just keep grinding away with escapes, takedowns, and riding time and that was enough. It's a good reminder that while giving up points is bad, it's not fatal to your ability to win a match if you just keep wrestling and keep going to your offense.
Gilman, Clark, Dziewa, and Burak tallied major decision wins for Iowa in this round, while Telford added Iowa's lone pin by manhandling Indiana's undersized Garret Goldman. Brandon Sorensen was on his way to a major decision win of his own at 149 before his opponent suffered a leg injury and had to injury default out.
125: #1 Thomas Gilman DEC (8-4) #8 Luke Welch
133: #5 Cory Clark DEC (2-0) #4 Jonni DiJulius
141: #6 Josh Dziewa DEC (3-1) #3 Anthony Abidin
149: #1 Brandon Sorensen DEC (6-1) #8 Rylan Lubeck
157: #2 Dylan Ness MAJ DEC (15-6) #7 Mike Kelly
174: #3 Mike Evans DEC (2-0) #6 Mark Martin
184: #8 Matt McCutcheon DEC (6-4 SV) #1 Sammy Brooks
197: #4 Nathan Burak DEC (9-5) #12 Hayden Hrymack
285: #4 Bobby Telford DEC (2-1) #5 Jimmy Lawson
The quarterfinals also went well for Iowa, minus an expected loss by Mike Kelly to Dylan Ness (though it would have been nice to keep the damage to a regular decision instead of a major decision) and the aforementioned shocking loss by Brooks at 184. Iowa's offense largely dried up in this round -- Clark, Evans, and Telford all won without the benefit of a takedown -- but Iowa was able to claw out wins anyway. Kudos to them for getting those wins, but in the long run that's not a winning strategy. Hopefully Iowa is able to score some more takedowns in the semifinal round.
165: #7 Nick Moore had a BYE
125: #1 Thomas Gilman vs #5 Jordan Conaway
133: #5 Cory Clark vs #1 Chris Dardanes
141: #6 Josh Dziewa vs #2 Nick Dardanes
149: #1 Brandon Sorensen vs #5 Alec Pantaleo
174: #3 Mike Evans vs #2 Matt Brown
197: #4 Nathan Burak vs #1 Kyle Snyder
285: #4 Bobby Telford vs #1 Connor Medbery
I'm not going to sugarcoat it: these are some brutal matchups for Iowa. Three of them (133, 141, 174) are rematches from regular season matches that the Iowa wrestler lost. Two others (125, 197) were wins that could have been losses. Telford has lost to Medbery before (last season) and Sorensen struggled to get by Pantaleo (just a 2-1 win) at the dual meet earlier this year. Iowa is going to need to wrestle very, very, very well in this round if they want to keep the positive momentum going from this morning's action.
157: #7 Mike Kelly vs #8 Anthony Perrotti
165: #7 Nick Moore vs #9 Austin Wilson
184: #1 Sammy Brooks vs #10 Patrick Kissel
1) Iowa -- 65 points (7 semifinalists)
2) Minnesota -- 55 (6 semifinalists)
3) Ohio State -- 48 (5 semifinalists)
3) Penn State -- 48 (5 semifinalists)
5) Wisconsin -- 39.5 (4 semifinalists)
Full standings here
Iowa is in good shape for now in the team race, but the post-semifinals standings will be far more telling. While Ohio State and Minnesota have fewer semifinalists than Iowa, they're favored in more of those matches than Iowa is, which means they could have the edge over Iowa after tonight.
Session II gets underway tonight at 5 PM CT, with a round of consolation matches (Kelly, Moore, and Brooks should be in action for Iowa), followed by the semifinals (and another round of consolation matches). There's no TV coverage, but the matches will be on BTN Plus and I'll keep the results updated here at BHGP.