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SO YOU'RE GOING TO GRAPPLE ON THE GRIDIRON: WHAT TO KNOW

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Iowa (0-0) vs. Oklahoma State (0-0)

Date: November 14, 2015
Time: 11:00 a.m. CT
Location: Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City
TV/Streaming: BTN2Go
Tickets: HawkeyeSports.com
Line: N/A

WRESTLING AT KINNICK, HUH?  WHAT'S THAT GOING TO LOOK LIKE?

Good question!

SO WHAT SORT OF WRESTLING IS THIS?

This is called folkstyle.  There are three primary types of wrestling: folkstyle, freestyle, and greco-roman.  There's also professional wrestling, but that won't be applicable to Saturday's action -- Tom Brands (the Iowa coach) won't be bashing John Smith (the Oklahoma State coach) with a steel folding chair at any point.  Well, probably not.  Freestyle and Greco-Roman are the styles that you see at the Olympics.

Folkstyle is the style that's used at the high school and college levels.  If you're wondering why we use one style at those levels and another at the Olympics... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

HOW DO YOU WIN?

By scoring more points than the other team.

OK, SMARTASS, HOW DO YOU SCORE POINTS?

Alright, alright... There are 10 matches, each at a different weight class.  The ten weight classes are:

125
133
141
149
157
165
174
184
197
285

That number concerns the upper limit for each weight.  So you can't weight more than 141 lbs to wrestle at 141, or more than 165 lbs to wrestle at 165, and so on.  You can wrestle less than that, but that typically isn't any sort of advantage -- it more often puts you at a strength disadvantage, in fact.  Wrestlers during a match actually probably weight a bit more than their listed weights because most wrestlers cut weight to hit the target for their chosen weight class and then add weight (much of it by re-hydrating after the weigh-in process).  The only weight where you're likely to see competitors who weigh less than the listed limit is heavyweight -- there are plenty of heavyweights who are in the 240-260 lb range, rather than pushing 300.

OK, OK, GET TO THE POINTS

Right, the points.  So there are really two types of points in a wrestling meet: match points and dual meet points.  So there are ten matches during a dual meet and each match is worth either 3 dual meet points, 4 dual meet points, 5 dual meet points, or 6 dual meet points.

Regular decisions are worth 3 dual meet points.  You win by decision if you beat your opponent by fewer than eight match points.

Major decisions are worth 4 dual meet points.  You win by major decision if you beat your opponent by 8-14 match points.

Technical falls are worth 5 dual meet points.  You win by technical fall if you beat your opponent by 15 or more match points.  BUT you must have accumulated near fall points at some point during the match in order to win by technical fall. If you win your opponent by 15 or more points but fail to accumulate any near fall points, then your win is only worth 4 dual meet points.

WAIT, NEAR FALL POINTS?

Yep.  Basically, you get near fall points if you're almost able to pin an opponent, but don't get the pin -- you control them in such a way that you expose their shoulders to the mat.  You can read more about the specifics here, but essentially if you see one wrestler holding an opponent near the mat and the referee counting, it's probably a near fall situation.  If the controlling wrestler is able to hold the position for 2-4 seconds, then he is awarded 2 match points.  If he holds the position for 5 seconds or more, he's awarded 3 match points.

PINS SEEM GOOD.

Pins are the best.  To get a pin -- or a fall -- a wrestler has to hold his opponent's shoulders to the mat for at least one second.  As soon as the ref signals a pin, the match is over.  Pins are worth six dual meet points.

WHOA.  IS ANYTHING ELSE WORTH THAT MANY POINTS?

Yes.  If a wrestler forfeits, defaults, or misbehaves in such a way that he is disqualified, then his opponent is awarded six points.  A wrestler forfeits by simply not showing up for a match.  A wrestler defaults if he is not able to continue competing during a match (due to injury, illness, etc.).

SO HOW DO YOU SCORE MATCH POINTS?

Good question -- there are a lot of ways to score match points.

Takedown -- Takedowns are worth 2 points.  You score a takedown by gaining control by taking your opponent down to the mat (in bounds) from a neutral position.  Control is usually established when you have both arms around an opponent's waist. You'll know a takedown has happened because all the fans will be screaming "TWO!!!" Although be sure that the referee signals two (by holding up two fingers); wrestling fans are prone to scream "TWO!!!" whenever at situations that may not technically be takedowns.

THAT SEEMS WEIRD.

Well, you know how complicated a touchdown catch can be in the NFL, between securing the football, maintaining possession, making a football move, and everything else?

UGH, YES.

Unfortunately, takedowns can sometimes be like that.  Luckily, they aren't always like that -- often they're pretty obvious because a wrestler gets his opponent's leg and is able to take him down to the mat.

HOW ELSE CAN YOU SCORE POINTS?

Riding time -- If you maintain control of an opponent for at least one minute, you are awarded 1 match point.  Essentially this occurs when both wrestlers are on the mat -- riding time is counted for the offensive wrestler, or the one on top of the defensive wrestler.  The final riding time is the difference between the riding time gained by both wrestlers during the match.  If Wrestler A maintains control of Wrestler B for 2 minutes and 15 seconds during a match and Wrestler B maintains control of Wrestler A for 1 minute and 1 second during a match, the total riding time is 1 minute and 14 seconds (2:15-1:01) for Wrestler A.  Wrestler A will be warded a riding time point.  Riding time is only awarded at the conclusion of a match.

A wrestler accumulates time toward a riding time point anytime that he is in control of his opponent, which can occur after a takedown, after a reversal (see below), or if a period starts with him in the top position (we'll get to that in a minute).

Escape -- Escapes are worth 1 match point.  You are awarded an escape point if you're the defensive wrestler in the bottom position and the offensive wrestler loses control of you.  Usually this means that you get out from underneath the offensive wrestler.

Reversal -- Reversals are worth 2 match points.  They're kind of like Escape's cooler, better brother.  Like an escape, a reversal starts with the offensive wrestler on top of -- in control of -- the defensive wrestler.  The difference is that instead of the defensive wrestler just getting away from the offensive wrestler and having him lose control of you, you manage to go all the way around the offensive wrestler and take control of -- get on top of -- him.

We already covered near fall points above.  There's also penalty points, which are awarded by the referee for unsportsmanlike conduct, unnecessary roughness, and flagrant misconduct or illegal holds.  Unsportsmanlike conduct mainly covers non-physical behavior -- excessive swearing, teasing or taunting an opponent, etc.  Unnecessary roughness covers physical behavior -- eye poking, punching, kicking, etc.  Penalty points can also be assessed for technical violations, which includes things like interlocked hands and stalling.

WHAT'S STALLING?

The worst.  Basically, if a wrestler is constantly circling away from his opponent and refusing to engage and make any attempts to score an offensive move, the referee should warn him for stalling.  If the referee does that twice, then the stalling wrestler's opponent is awarded a match point.  If the referee does that three times, then the stalling wrestler is disqualified.

THAT SOUNDS TERRIBLE.

It is.  Imagine playing basketball with no shot clock and having the opponent just dribble the ball in the corner the whole time.

UGH.  HOW OFTEN DO REFEREES CALL STALLING?

Not often enough, unfortunately.

HOW LONG IS A WRESTLING MATCH?

Wrestling matches last a total of seven minutes in regulation.  They consist of three periods: a three minute first period, a two minute second period, and a two minute third period.  There are short breaks (around 30 seconds) between periods.

IS THERE OVERTIME?

Yes, if a match is tied on match points at the end of the third period, the match will go to overtime.  There are a few different types of periods during overtime.

Sudden victory: This is a 1-minute period that takes place after the third period (there's also a short break between the third period and the sudden victory overtime).  Wrestlers begin on their feet in the neutral position and the first wrestler to score a point (by any means) during that 1-minute period is immediately declare the winner.

Tiebreaker: This is a series of two 30-second periods that take place after sudden victory (with, again, a short break between sudden victory and the tiebreaker periods; there's also a short break between the tiebreaker periods). In the first tiebreaker period, one wrestler starts in the bottom position and tries to earn an escape.  If he does, he's awarded one match point.  The match is not immediately over, however -- the full 30 seconds will be wrestled, as well as the second tiebreaker period.  In the second tiebreaker period, the other wrestler starts in the bottom position and tries to earn an escape.  If he does, he's awarded one match point.  Again, the match is still not immediately over -- the full 30 seconds will be wrestled, no matter what.  Wrestlers can also score via reversals, takedowns, and penalty points during tiebreaker periods, with those match points being added to the total score for the match.

Sudden victory: If the match is still tied after the tiebreaker periods, they do another 1-minute sudden victory period. Wrestlers begin on their feet in the neutral position and the first wrestler to score a point (by any means) during that 1-minute period is immediately declare the winner.

Tiebreaker: If the match is STILL tied after another sudden victory period, then they do two more 30-second tiebreaker periods.  The same rules apply as in the first set of tiebreaker periods.

If after all that the match is STILL tied, then the match is decided by riding time by determining which wrestler held control for a longer span of time during the tiebreaker periods.  Yes, this is a deeply unsatisfying way to settle a match. So it goes.

WHAT'S THIS ABOUT NEUTRAL POSITION AND TOP AND BOTTOM?

Neutral position refers to the situation when both wrestlers are standing on the mat. When the action goes to the mat, top and bottom position become involved.  A wrestler has top position when he is on top of -- in control of -- his opponent.  A wrestler has bottom position when he is on bottom of -- being controlled by -- his opponent.  When a wrestler scores a takedown, the wrestler who completes the takedown is in top position, while the wrestler who is taken down is in bottom position.  When a wrestler escapes, the action returns to neutral.  During a reversal, the wrestler in bottom position becomes the wrestler in top position and vice versa.

The first period of a match always begins with the wrestlers in neutral position.  The second and third periods are different.  Before the second period, the referee flips a coin and the wrestler who wins the toss can elect what he wants to do in the second period: he can remain in neutral, he can go on bottom position, he can go on top position, or he can defer his choice to the third period.  In the third period, the other wrestler is offered the same range of choices.  Wrestlers most often choose to take the bottom position because it allows them to get an escape and earn a match point.  If an opponent is particularly strong in the top position (and a wrestler thinks he is unlikely to earn an escape point), he may choose to take the neutral position.  It is very rare for a wrestler to take top position because it is difficult to score points that way (you would need to maneuver your opponent into a pinning situation or a near fall situation) and relatively easy to concede points that way (if your opponent earns an escape).

OK, SO HOW DO YOU WIN A MATCH AGAIN?

By scoring more dual meet points than your opponent.  For instance, let's imagine a dual meet breaks down this way:

125: Team A wins by decision (Team A 3, Team B 0)
133: Team B wins by major decision (Team A 3, Team B 4)
141: Team A wins by decision (Team A 6, Team B 4)
149: Team A wins by technical fall (Team A 11, Team B 4)
157: Team B wins by fall (Team A 11, Team B 10)
165: Team A wins by decision (Team A 14, Team B 10)
174: Team B wins by decision (Team A 14, Team B 13)
184: Team B wins by decision (Team A 14, Team B 16)
197: Team A wins by major decision (Team A 18, Team B 16)
285: Team B wins by fall (Team A 18, Team B 22)

Team B beats Team A because they scored 22 dual meet points while Team A scored 18 dual meet points.

THAT SEEMS COMPLICATED AND LIKE IT INVOLVES A LOT OF MATH.

Well, kind of, but you get used to it.  Football has a lot of different scoring amounts, too -- extra points, two-point conversions, field goals, and touchdowns.  And the score will be kept on the scoreboard in Kinnick, so you can refer to that -- no need to do the math yourself!

FAIR ENOUGH.

But if you want an easy way to track which team is doing better, count the takedowns for each side.

OK, SO WHERE IS IOWA GOOD?

The lower weights and the upper weights.  At 125 and 133, Iowa has Thomas Gilman and Cory Clark.  They were both All Americans last year, meaning they finished in the top 8 at the NCAA Tournament.  Gilman finished 4th at 125 and Clark finished 2nd at 133.  They're both very good.  Iowa also has some good wrestlers at the upper weights, particularly Alex Meyer at 174, Sammy Brooks at 184, and Nathan Burak at 197.  Burak is a two-time All-American and one of the best guys in the country at his weight.  Meyer and Brooks weren't All Americans last year, but both are very good and should win a lot of matches this year.  Finally, Iowa is also good with Brandon Sorenson at 149 lbs.  He was also an All American last year.

WHERE IS OKLAHOMA STATE GOOD?

Oklahoma State is outstanding at 165, where they have Alex Dieringer, who's a two-time NCAA Champion.  He's going to win his match and probably by a lot.  The Cowboys are also very good at 141 lbs, where they have Dean Heil (ranked #2 in the country).  They have good wrestlers at 125, 157, 174, and 285, too.

WHAT MATCH WILL BE THE MOST EXCITING?

Generally speaking, matches at the lower weights are more exciting because they're more active and use more offensive attacks.  So 125, 133, and 141 could be pretty exciting.  165 will likely be one-sided, but DIeringer may put on a pretty good show (albeit at Iowa's expense).  And 184 should be pretty fun because Sammy Brooks likes to score points for Iowa.  285 will probably not be exciting, because heavyweight matches almost never are.

WHO'S GOING TO WIN?

It should be close. Here's my official prediction:

125: #4 Thomas Gilman (0-0) vs #7 Eddie Klimara (7-0)

Klimara is solid, but Gilman has beaten him several times in the past.  I don't see that changing here.  I think Gilman will be revved up to get bonus points, but I think Klimara will keep it from getting out of hand.

PREDICTION: Gilman via DEC (IOWA 3-0)

133: #2 Cory Clark (0-0) vs UN Gary Wayne Harding (5-2) or UN Brian Crutchmer (7-1) or UN Kaid Brock (9-0)

Clark should be much better than whoever he faces and win easily.  Bonus points are a real possibility here.

PREDICTION: Clark via MAJ DEC (IOWA 7-0)

141: UN Logan Ryan (4-1) or UN Topher Carton (3-1) or UN Jake Kadel (0-0) vs #1 Dean Heil (3-0)

Ryan seems to be favored to get the nod for Iowa, but he'll have a tall order beating Heil.  I think he'll do enough to avoid bonus points, though.

PREDICTION: Heil via DEC (IOWA 7-3)

149: #3 Brandon Sorenson (0-0) vs #8 Anthony Collica (7-0)

This is a toss-up match, but Sorenson has been nails for Iowa since taking over the starting job last year.  I think he grinds out a win here.

PREDICTION: Sorenson via DEC (IOWA 10-3)

157: UN Edwin Cooper (0-0) or UN Skyler St. John (0-0) vs. #15 Chance Marsteller (4-3)

Marsteller has so far not been producing up to his mega-recruit pedigree, which makes this match more interesting and potentially a toss-up.  I'm still not quite ready to call for an Iowa upset, though.

PREDICTION: Marsteller via DEC (IOWA 10-6)

165: UN Patrick Rhoads (0-0) or UN Burke Paddock (0-0) vs #1 Alex Dieringer (3-0)

Dieringer is a beast.  Damage limitation is the name of the game here.  I think Rhoads or Paddock will avoid getting pinned... but beyond that, I don't feel confident.

PREDICTION: Dieringer via TECH FALL (OK ST 11-10)

174: #6 Alex Meyer (0-0) vs #4 Kyle Crutchmer (3-0) or UN Chandler Rogers (4-2)

Meyer beat Crutchmer last season, but Crutcher ended the season well (and has begun it well, too, judging by his 3-0 record so far).  This is a key swing match for the dual and I have to give the nod to Meyer and home field advantage.

PREDICTION: Meyer via DEC (IOWA 13-11)

184: #10 Sammy Brooks (0-0) vs #15 Jordan Rogers (8-0) or UN Nolan Boyd (6-2)

Boyd pulled an upset on Brooks at the dual last year, so Sammy is likely itching for another crack at him.  Rogers would be a quality opponent, too, but I don't think Sammy will be denied in this match.

PREDICTION: Brooks via DEC (IOWA 16-11)

197: #4 Nathan Burak (0-0) vs UN Austin Schafer (7-1)

Burak should win comfortably, but he's not always Iowa's best source of bonus points, so I don't feel comfortable expecting a major out of him.

PREDICTION: Burak via DEC (IOWA 19-11)

285: UN Sam Stoll (0-0) vs #5 Austin Marsden (6-0)

Quite a welcome to the Iowa line-up for young Mr. Stoll.  It will probably come down to one move and Marsden's experience seems like the play to back here.

PREDICTION: Marsden via DEC (IOWA 19-14)

So yeah -- close.  If the 174 match swings the other way, Iowa would lose 17-16.

Go Hawks!