The Iowa-Iowa State rivalry in wrestling has become stunningly one-sided in recent years -- Iowa's won 12 straight dual meets in the series and the average score of those 12 wins has been 23.8-10.4 -- but even by those standards, Iowa's 33-6 triumph over the Cyclones on Sunday was impressive. The 33 points was the most recorded by Iowa against ISU since 2002-03 (which predates the current 12-dual winning streak) and 27 points was the biggest margin of victory for Iowa since a 29-point drubbing (32-3) in 2012-13.
I expected Iowa to win comfortably, but I thought there was a glimmer of a chance for Iowa State to possibly make things look semi-competitive, given the uncertainty at Iowa's middle weights. I needn't have worried. Iowa State tied the meet at 3-3 after the second match (a 6-2 win for ISU at 141), won two of the first five matches, and Iowa led just 10-6 at intermission. Iowa turned on the jets after the break, though, with Alex Meyer's thorough 7-1 decision win at 174 serving as a warm-up for major destruction in the final four matches, which featured a pair of falls and a pair of major decisions. Beatdown complete.
Iowa's thumping of Iowa State was so comprehensive that it inspired a hilariously brief match recap from Iowa State in their description of the dual. There were a few other matches yesterday, guys...
#2 IOWA 33, #17 IOWA STATE 6
133: #2 Cory Clark DEC (9-2) #7 Earl Hall (IOWA 3-0)
141: UR Dante Rodriguez DEC (6-2) UR Logan Ryan (TIE 3-3)
149: #3 Brandon Sorenson MAJ DEC (11-3) #15 Gabe Moreno (IOWA 7-3)
157: UR Edwin Cooper DEC (6-2) UR Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer (IOWA 10-3)
165: #11 Tanner Weatherman DEC (10-9) UR Patrick Rhoads (IOWA 10-6)
174: #4 Alex Meyer DEC (7-1) #13 Lelund Weatherspoon (IOWA 13-6)
184: #12 Sammy Brooks FALL (6:45) UR Dane Pestano (IOWA 19-6)
197: #4 Nathan Burak MAJ DEC (22-8) UR David Egli (IOWA 23-6)
285: UR Sam Stoll FALL (3:30) UR Quean Smith (IOWA 29-6)
125: #2 Thomas Gilman MAJ DEC (12-3) UR Kyle Larson (IOWA 33-6)
133: The headline match of the dual -- the only one that featured two top-10 wrestlers -- led off the dual and after a slow start, Cory Clark cruised to another easy win over longtime foe Hall. Clark used some slick near fall points to rack up a comfortable decision win and fell just short of a major decision win. A faster start from Clark would be nice (he gdave up an early takedown), but that's the only complaint with his performance.
141: New dual, same story -- just not enough offense from Logan Ryan. Ryan has an opportunity to stake a claim to the starting spot at this weight, but he's not really convincing so far. This weight remains very much open for competition.
149: Sorenson also started slow, but poured on the points behind several takedowns in the third period. He also once again was able to use a slick suck-back maneuver to earn some near fall points -- he's getting very, very good at that. A year ago, Sorenson beat Moreno by a single point; this year, he rolled to a major decision. Impressive.
157: For Iowa State to have any hope of pulling off an improbable upset Sunday, this was a match they needed to win. Cooper didn't let that happen. This wasn't a thrilling or dominant win by Cooper -- but it was a win. Given Iowa's early struggles at this weight, that'll do. Cooper controlled the match and locked away the win with a late takedown. There's more to do and see at this weight, but for now this was a perfectly fine performance. (EDIT: This match blurred together with a few others for me -- the perils of listening on radio -- and Cooper actually failed to get a takedown. His six points came via two escapes, three stall points against ISU, and a riding time point. The win is nice, but it would be nice to see some actual takedowns.)
165: This might have been the most entertaining match of the dual -- if you're a fan of back-and-forth action, at least. (If you're a fan of Iowa wrestlers routing their opponents, a few other matches may have been more entertaining.) Weatherman jumped out to an early lead behind a handful of early takedowns -- some of which came from Rhoads putting himself in poor positions -- but Rhoads did well to get quick escapes when taken down and turn the tables at the end and log some takedowns of his own. He wasn't able to come all the way back and win the match, but his fightback against a top-15 opponent was good.
174: Alex Meyer had been a bit of a question mark for Iowa in the early going this year, so much so that I thought this match could be a possible upset for Iowa State, especially given the fact that Meyer's opponent, Lelund Weatherspoon, had been wrestling well so far this season. Meyer responded emphatically with probably his best match of the season. He didn't get bonus points, but he beat a pretty solid wrestler decisively. He didn't start slowly and concede silly early takedowns and dig himself a hole -- he did did the early scoring himself, in fact, and then stayed in control throughout. This looked more like the Meyer who could make a run for a spot high on the podium this season.
184: Welcome to The Sammy Brooks Show! You're gonna like what you see here. (Disclaimer: offer not valid for Iowa State fans.) Pestano surprised Brooks with an early takedown, but that didn't seem to phase Sammy at all -- he got an immediate escape and went to work himself, racking up takedowns and near fall points with ease. He had a 22-8 lead (23-8 when a riding time point was factored in) late in the third period when he let Pestano up -- just so he could plow him over for a pin.
Iowa State seems to think Brooks actually won via DQ and that Pestano was disqualified for stalling... but as far as I'm concerned, it was a pin. Brooks remains one of Iowa's most fun wrestlers to watch and matches like this are a terrific example of why that is. He's been wrestling at an incredibly high level so far this season.
197: The competition for Nathan Burak hasn't been anything to shout about for the last few weeks, but it's still been exciting to see him roll through his opponents with ease, racking up bonus points. Burak is one of Iowa's best wrestlers, as well as a senior leader on this team, so they need him out there leading the way with dominant performances. So far, so good.
285: Sam Stoll is bringing a real sense of fun to the table this year -- which is not something you associate with the heavyweight division. Stoll was able to take Smith down a few times -- once off a slick single-leg and once off an upper body throw -- and once on the mat, he's a beast at looking for turns and falls. This makes four matches in a row now featuring pinfall wins for Stoll. We'll have to wait and see what happens when Stoll faces tougher guys later in the season and reliance on those upper body throws can be dangerous (although since Stoll is a decorated Greco Roman wrestler, he's likely to have more success doing them than most), but so far Stoll is developing nicely in his debut season.
125: I was looking forward to seeing how Iowa State's highly touted freshman at this weight, Nathan Boston, would match up with Gilman, but alas, he didn't get the call to compete in this match. Kyle Larson did instead and while he was game, he was no match for Gilman, who scored an early takedown to jump out to a lead and then proceeded to cruise to an eventual major decision after scoring a takedown late in the third to wrap up the bonus points.
Once upon a time, Iowa-Iowa State would have been one of the dual meets of the season and a great measuring stick for the Hawkeyes. That hasn't been the case for a while (at least since Cael Sanderson picked up and left for Happy Valley) and it wasn't the case on Sunday. Iowa has 4-5 wrestlers who might be able to contend for national titles this season -- Iowa State doesn't even have that many wrestlers who will contend for All-America spots. These programs are on different levels right now.
Here are some highlights from the dual:
NEXT: Iowa returns to action on Friday, December 4 at 7 PM CT in Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, IA to take on South Dakota State.