As I said a day ago, on paper Rutgers is one of the toughest teams Iowa will face in a dual meet this season. The Hawkeyes routed the Scarlet Knights last night, winning eight of ten matches and posting several lopsided scorelines on the way to an easy 29-6 victory. That we could still say Rutgers is one of the better teams Iowa will see in a dual meet this year says much about the state of Iowa's schedule, but the ease of the win also says a lot about the quality of this Iowa team. They're not perfect across the board, but they have a lot of talent at a lot of weights.
The most exciting thing about last night's victory was easily the less-expected victories; I predicted six wins for Iowa and four for Rutgers last night, with Rutgers taking matches at 141, 157, 165, and 285. They got wins as expected at 141 and 165 (though neither win came easily), but Iowa pulled upsets at 157 and 285. At 157, Edwin Cooper finally earned a win over a ranked opponent by knocking off #17 Richie Lewis, 6-4. Lewis isn't a world-beater, but hopefully this win serves as a nice stepping-stone for Cooper and he can build off it for more wins over ranked opponents. At 285, Stoll scored the biggest win of the evening, upsetting #6 Billy Smith 3-1 on a takedown in sudden victory (overtime). Stoll was the aggressor throughout the match (though the pace in the second and third periods was fairly slow and cautious for both guys) and earned the biggest win of his young Hawkeye career by stuffing a Smith shot attempt and quickly circling around to earn a takedown of his own. Stoll has made huge strides since his debut in the lineup a month ago and while he can (and will) improve in several areas, he's quickly becoming a reliable wrestler for this Iowa team, which is great to see.
#2 IOWA 29, #12 RUTGERS 6
|125||#2 Thomas Gilman||TECH FALL (21-6)||#18 Sean McCabe||IOWA 5-0|
|133||#3 Cory Clark||MAJ DEC (11-2)||#17 Anthony Giraldo||IOWA 9-0|
|141||#3 Anthony Ashnault||DEC (8-4)||UR Topher Carton||IOWA 9-3|
|149||#2 Brandon Sorensen||TECH FALL (21-6)||UR Tyson Dippery||IOWA 14-3|
|157||UR Edwin Cooper||DEC (6-4)||#17 Richie Lewis||IOWA 17-3|
|165||#12 Anthony Perrotti||DEC (8-7)||UR Patrick Rhoads||IOWA 17-6|
|174||#3 Alex Meyer||DEC (8-3)||UR Phil Bakuckas||IOWA 20-6|
|184||#8 Sammy Brooks||DEC (11-5)||UR Nicholas Gravina||IOWA 23-6|
|197||#4 Nathan Burak||DEC (6-1)||UR Hayden Hrymack||IOWA 26-6|
|285||UR Sam Stoll||DEC (3-1 SV)||#6 Billy Smith||IOWA 29-6|
125: As usual, Gilman got the dual meet started with some fireworks, running a takedown clinic from almost the opening whistle. Gilman is emphatically not a member of the Slow-Start Squad on this team. McCabe had no answer for Gilman's strength, skill, or stamina.
133: Cory Clark, on the other hand, is a member of the Slow-Start Squad. He gave up an early takedown to Giraldo here, but roared back for 11 points in the second and third periods. He got an escape to start the second, followed that up with a takedown, and then was able to earn a stall point against Giraldo as well. Clark really broke the match open in the third period after another takedown and a tilt in which he was able to expose Giraldo's back and earn four near fall points. The 4-point nearfall is an absolute game-changer this year. The slow start and early takedown are concerning, but the fact that Clark was still able to battle back and earn a major decision is encouraging.
141: Topher Carton got the start for the first time in a dual meet this season and he... did pretty well, frankly. Ashnault entered the match ranked #3 but outside of one slick takedown and a 4-point nearfall of his own that gave him a huge 6-0 lead (and dug Carton a hole from which he could never emerge), he didn't really do a whole lot. He wasn't the aggressor in the second or third periods -- Carton was, which earned him a takedown of his own. He was never really able to put Ashnault in danger of losing, but against the #3 guy in the country, this was a solid performance. He showed more aggressiveness and attacking skill than we've seen from Logan Ryan in his starts this year.
In other 141 news, Tom Brands indicated that Brody Grothus is doing well with his rehab and weight cut and on pace to make his debut around Midlands -- hopefully in time to compete in that event. That would be a very exciting development for Iowa at this weight.
149: Brandon Sorensen has been another member of the Slow-Start Squad, but he came out firing against Rutgers and built a 6-2 lead after the first period. The second period was a little slower, but he turned the third period into an easy takedown clinic and eventually earned a technical fall -- definitely an encouraging sight. Iowa had bonus points at three of their first four weights -- that ability to explode out of the gates and get big points early is a really formidable advantage in dual meets.
157: Speaking of exploding out of the gates... Edwin Cooper! Cooper earned his biggest win of the season by attacking off the opening whistle and earning a takedown in the first 15-20 seconds of the match. He also put on a hard ride and that takedown and (eventual) riding time point is what won him the match. I would have liked to see a little more attacking in the second and third period -- another takedown could have made things much comfortable for Cooper -- but getting over the hump and getting a win against a decent opponent is still a nice accomplishment for Cooper.
165: The starting rotation between Patrick Rhoads and Burke Paddock rotated back to Rhoads for this dual; he once again came out on the losing end, but he did make things interesting against a former All-American (2013, at 157) in Perrotti. He was able to take Perrotti down and had another scramble situation where he could have scored points (Perrotti ended up with the advantage). Brands is going to have to make a call on 165 after Midlands and right now Rhoads has been slightly more impressive than Paddock.
174: Alex Meyer has been a member of the Slow-Start Squad for a while and that didn't change last night -- he was sluggish off the whistle but did manage to get a takedown in the dying seconds of the first period. The second periods was a whole lot of nothing. He was able to get a few takedowns in the third period to extend the lead and make for a comfortable decision win, but it would be encouraging to see him score some more points early and put pressure on guys from the very beginning of the match.
184: This match was the biggest surprise of the night -- and not in a good way. Brooks looked off from the beginning -- slow, disengaged, sloppy. He gave up a takedown and got ridden very hard in the second period, although he was able to get an escape and a takedown to tie the match at 3-3 heading into the third period. And he cranked up the pressure in that period with a takedown and a 4-point nearfall (GAME. CHANGER.) off a tilt, which made the final score a lot more lopsided than the match really felt (11-5). (Sidenote: Brooks is a bit lucky the ref swallowed his whistle during that tilt attempt because Brooks had his back flat on the mat and the ref could have ruled that he'd pinned himself and awarded the fall to Gravina. It's dumb that you can get pinned in that situation -- Brooks was the aggressor and in near-total control -- but rules are rules and the ref would have been justified in calling a fall there. That tilt of yours is a great move, Sammy -- just be careful to keep both shoulders off the mat when you're doing it.) Hopefully this was just a one-off poor performance from Sammy.
197: The good news? Burak looked fine, health-wise, and showed no obvious signs of whatever wear and tear kept him out of the lineup last week against South Dakota State. The bad news? Another slow start and 0-0 first period. Burak was able to score takedowns in the second and third periods and ultimately won comfortably (6-1), but we always want more, more, more -- especially out of a senior leader. But this was fine, overall.
285: Already hit on Stoll above, but this was a nice win for Stoll and hopefully a springboard to even more success for our young shaved bear. It was another 0-0 first period, but as 0-0 first periods among heavyweights go, this one was pretty good -- Stoll was pretty active in moving Smith around and looking for tie-ups and trying to work a throw or trip off those tie-ups. As good as Stoll is with that offense (he's been a Greco-Roman medalist in the past), he's probably going to need to develop some reliable leg attacks, too -- it's hard to score consistently in folkstyle with Greco-based offense, especially against tougher opponents. The second and third periods were wrestled at a slower tempo and were much more akin to the typical plodding heavyweight match. Stoll didn't even try to keep Smith down in the second -- he was up and out in about five minutes -- and he'll need to work on that as riding time can be vital in heavyweight matches. On the bright side, he was able to get up and out himself in about 15 seconds in the third period, which was encouraging -- he got ridden hard in his only other match against a quality opponent this year (#4 Marsden, at the Grapple on the Gridiron). So there's still things to work on -- generating more of his own offense (particularly when it comes to attacking legs), riding opponents -- but it's a lot more fun to work on that stuff after a win than a loss. This should be the last week when Stoll has a "UR" next to his name, too -- he's gonna crack the Top 20 next week for sure.
NEXT: Iowa has three weeks off before returning to action at the Midlands Championships in Evanston, IL on December 29-30. This will be Iowa's second big test of the season (after Grapple on the Gridiron) and a great way to see how well several Iowa wrestlers measure up against quality competition. Midlands should also go a long way to answer the question marks Iowa has at 141 and 165. We'll be previewing it over the next few weeks.
H/T to Rachel Jessen and Iowa Wrestling Photos for letting me use her pics of last night's dual. Thanks!