Unlike a week ago when they took on top-ranked Oklahoma State, the result for Iowa wrestling in Friday's four dual meets -- one against Maryland and three against Grand Canyon, Iowa Central, and Cornell as part of the annual Iowa City Duals -- was never in doubt. Iowa was going to win all four duals -- the only question was by how much. The answer was by a whole lot. Iowa's closest dual of the day was the opener against Maryland, which they won 36-9. They won their next three duals by scores of 44-0, 54-0, and 58-0. (60-0 is the best possible score a team can earn in a dual meet, in case you were wondering.) In all, Iowa won 37 of 40 matches on Friday, scoring bonus points in 35 of those 37 wins. Almost half of Iowa's wins came via fall -- 18. Iowa also had 9 major decision wins and 6 technical fall victories. It was every bit the lopsided rout that we anticipated.
There were really only two things worth watching on Friday -- how did Iowa's more questionable weights (141, 157, 165, 285) look and how dominant would Iowa's established stars be? The questionable weights didn't decisively answer any questions -- Iowa's three losses on the day came at 141, 157, and 165 against Maryland and none of the losses came against ranked opposition (although Maryland's 141er, Alfred Bannister, is a quality wrestler who had a good redshirt campaign a year ago and may find himself ranked before long). Suffice to say there's still work to be done at those weights and options to be considered. 285 was a question mark only because we hadn't seen much of new starter Sam Stoll in action, but he responded with three first period pins and a win by forfeit. Caveats about the quality of the competition apply, but that's still a fine outing for Stoll. He actually scored the most dual meet points (24) of any Iowa wrestler on Friday, just edging out Thomas Gilman and Sammy Brooks (23 apiece).
As far as Iowa's established stars, they mostly did as expected and tore through the opposition. Thomas Gilman started the day with a takedwn clinic technical fall win, then scored falls in his next three matches (but only after racking up several takedowns in each match). Cory Clark began his day with a fall, then had to settle for a 10-1 major decision win in his second match of the day before adding a pair of falls in his final two matches of the day. Of course, with Clark and Gilman the key remains seeing them perform like this against better competition. It's one thing to freight train through overmatched opponents, but if they're able to put up bonus points against some of the tougher opponents they see, Iowa could be in store for a very good year.
Brandon Sorenson had four bonus point wins at 149 and his performances got increasingly dominant as the day wore on -- he started out with two somewhat workmanlike major decisions, then finished up with a technical fall and a fall. Sorenson is a very good wrestler who often seems a bit too cautious and unwilling to trust his own offense; the more comfortable he gets unleashing that offense, the better he (and the team) will be. As noted above, Brooks was a terror on the day, ripping through his opponents for three first period falls and a technical fall. Of any current Iowa wrestler, he was the greatest potential to vastly outperform his ranking (#12, per Intermat). Injuries and overly cautious wrestling held him back in the second half of last season, but if he can stay healthy and wrestle with smart aggression, he's going to have a very good season. Nathan Burak hasn't been a bonus point maven during his Iowa tenure and that probably won't change too much this year, although it was nice to see him rack up the points on Friday -- his four wins included a major decision, a technical fall, and (surprisingly) two pins. He's never been a prolific pinner, even against weaker opponents, so to see him grab two on Friday -- one of which was Iowa's fastest pin on the day (0:32!) -- was very nice to see. Keep it up, Nate.
The only real cause for concern among Iowa's established starters was Alex Meyer, who won all four of his matches, but wasn't always impressive in doing so. His four wins included a decision, two major decisions, and a fall (against Cornell, when everyone on the Iowa team -- except poor Logan Ryan -- was recording pins). More than the results, though, the concern stems from the way he was wrestling -- cautiously and defensively, not attempting many shots. He and his opponent had a 0-0 first period in one of his matches; that's galling under any circumstances, but especially here, considering that he wasn't facing any top guys. There hasn't been any indication that Meyer is dealing with an injury or illness, although I almost wish there was -- it would be easier to explain his performances in that context. Still, slow starts are a minor concern -- we'll just have to wait and see how he progresses over the rest of the season.
Iowa tested both Logan Ryan (three matches) and Jake Kadel at 141. By all accounts, Kadel isn't seriously in the running for the starting spot and it's essentially Ryan's by default until Brody Grothus and Topher Carton are healthy enough to actually contend for the spot. Ryan lost, 8-5, to Bannister, a disappointing match that featured few if any offensive attempts from Ryan. He picked up a pin and a major decision in his matches against Iowa Central and Cornell and looked better -- he was actually attempting (and finishing) his attacks, for one thing -- but we'll need to see him perform like that against better competition.
Edwin Cooper wrestled three of four matches at 157, while Skyler St. John wrestled the other. Cooper went 2-1, dropping an 8-5 decision to Maryland's Lou Mascala in his first match of the day, then coming back with a major decision against Grand Canyon and a fall against Cornell. St. John picked up a high-scoring 20-10 major decision win against Iowa Central. Mascala is probably a fringe Top 20 guy (in the 20-30 range), but we really need to see Cooper beat a few guys like that in order to have confidence in him. Cooper has good offense, but still seems prone to mental mistakes that put him in bad positions and result in him giving up points. St. John showed a good motor, but we'll need to see more matches from him to determine if he can effectively challenge at this weight or not.
Patrick Rhoads and Burke Paddock split the action at 165, with Rhoads earning a tech fall win against Grand Canyon and a fall against Cornell, while Paddock lost to Maryland and earned a tech fall of his own against Iowa Central. It was encouraging to see Rhoads wrestle in a context beyond "don't get pinned by Alex Dieringer" for once. It's impossible to escape level of competition caveats when discussing the Iowa City Duals, but he attacked well and wrestled smartly. He pushed the pace and continued to look for more bonus points during his matches. You can't ask for more than that at the IC Duals. Paddock had a tough loss against Maryland (it was closer than the 9-5 score; Paddock gave up a late takedown while hustling to try and get the win) and he looked solid in his tech fall win, particularly when it came to racking up near fall points on the mat. Like 141, the competition at this weight figures to go on for a while.
No one wrestled less on the day than Sam Stoll -- his three pinfall wins took all of 5:53 and his other win came via forfeit. But he showed some intriguing offensive skills from neutral -- always the biggest question mark with a heavyweight -- and was excellent at flipping his opponent and getting a pin when he got them to the mat. Stoll was a prolific pinner in high school -- he won his last 70+ matches at that level by pin -- and if he's able to continue to do that at the college level, he'll be a nice source of bonus points for Iowa. Questions still remain about his ability to ride and get escapes and how well his offense will translate against better heavyweights, but his performance on Friday was very encouraging for a redshirt freshman. There's a lot to like about Stoll and his development at Iowa should be fun to watch.
Iowa-Maryland @Hawks_Wrestling highlights from Friday: https://t.co/r9hWUEYU9s— The Iowa Hawkeyes (@TheIowaHawkeyes) November 21, 2015
#2 IOWA 36, MARYLAND 9
125: #2 Thomas Gilman TECH FALL (24-7) UR Jhared Simmons (IOWA 5-0)
133: #2 Cory Clark FALL (4:06) UR Tyler Goodwin (IOWA 11-0)
141: UR Alfred Bannister DEC (8-5) UR Logan Ryan (IOWA 11-3)
149: #3 Brandon Sorenson MAJ DEC (12-2) UR Wade Hodges (IOWA 15-3)
157: UR Lou Mascala DEC (8-6) UR Edwin Cooper (IOWA 15-6)
165: UR Brendan Burnham DEC (9-5) UR Burke Paddock (IOWA 15-9)
174: #5 Alex Meyer MAJ DEC (12-2) UR Derrick Evanovich (IOWA 19-9)
184: #12 Sammy Brooks FALL (2:16) UR Mark Colabucci (IOWA 25-9)
197: #4 Nathan Burak TECH FALL (21-5) UR Garrett Wesneski (IOWA 30-9)
285: UR Sam Stoll WINS VIA FORFEIT (IOWA 36-9)
#2 IOWA 44, GRAND CANYON 0
125: #2 Thomas Gilman FALL (3:51) UR Trayton Libolt (IOWA 6-0)
133: #2 Cory Clark MAJ DEC (10-1) UR Juaquin Olivas (IOWA 10-0)
141: UR Jake Kadel DEC (6-3) UR Uzo Owauma (IOWA 13-0)
149: #3 Brandon Sorenson MAJ DEC (14-4) UR Blake Monty (IOWA 17-0)
157: UR Edwin Cooper MAJ DEC (10-2) UR Zackary Velasquez (IOWA 21-0)
165: UR Patrick Rhoads TECH FALL (21-5) UR Casey Larson (IOWA 26-0)
174: #5 Alex Meyer DEC (7-2) UR Kenny Moore (IOWA 29-0)
184: #12 Sammy Brooks TECH FALL (17-2) UR Austin Trujillo (IOWA 34-0)
197: #4 Nathan Burak MAJ DEC (15-7) UR Austin Gaun (IOWA 38-0)
285: UR Sam Stoll FALL (1:36) UR Sean Medley (IOWA 44-0)
#2 IOWA 54, IOWA CENTRAL 0
125: #2 Thomas Gilman FALL (1:45) UR Mitchel Brinkman (IOWA 6-0)
133: #2 Cory Clark FALL (2:32) UR Terrell Pampkin (IOWA 12-0)
141: UR Logan Ryan FALL (4:52) UR Kohl Wheeler (IOWA 18-0)
149: #3 Brandon Sorenson TECH FALL (25-9) UR Ryne Cokeley (IOWA 23-0)
157: UR Skyler St. John MAJ DEC (20-10) UR Stephon Gray (IOWA 27-0)
165: UR Burke Paddock TECH FALL (18-1) UR Grant Sherman (IOWA 32-0)
174: #5 Alex Meyer MAJ DEC (10-2) UR Armani Robinson (IOWA 36-0)
184: #12 Sammy Brooks WINS VIA FORFEIT (IOWA 42-0)
197: #4 Nathan Burak FALL (2:14) UR Kendrick Jones (IOWA 48-0)
285: UR Sam Stoll FALL (1:50) UR Quelton Toliver (IOWA 54-0)
#2 IOWA 58, CORNELL 0
125: #2 Thomas Gilman FALL (1:32) UR Scott Smith (IOWA 6-0)
133: #2 Cory Clark FALL (3:47) UR Phillip Opelt (IOWA 12-0)
141: UR Logan Ryan MAJ DEC (20-7) UR Josh Martin (IOWA 16-0)
149: #3 Brandon Sorenson FALL (4:14) UR Nathan Shank (IOWA 22-0)
157: UR Edwin Cooper FALL (2:40) UR Aaron Engle (IOWA 28-0)
165: UR Patrick Rhoads FALL (4:55) UR Michael Maksimovic (IOWA 34-0)
174: #5 Alex Meyer FALL (4:02) UR Brian Cristion (IOWA 40-0)
184: #12 Sammy Brooks FALL (2:32) UR James Garrett (IOWA 46-0)
197: #4 Nathan Burak FALL (0:32) UR Ben Bergen (IOWA 52-0)
285: UR Sam Stoll FALL (2:27) UR Eric Tucker (IOWA 58-0)
NEXT: Iowa returns to action next Sunday, November 29, in Ames against Iowa State. There will be beatdowns.