Iowa wrapped up the Big Ten portion of their dual meet schedule in style, sweeping Indiana 45-0 on Senior Night. The win secured a 9-0 record in Big Ten play for Iowa and locked up at least a share of the Big Ten dual meet championship (Penn State is currently 8-0 and will be gunning for a 9-0 finish of their own against Michigan State next week; SPOILER: they're going to get it). It's the 8th time in the last 9 years that Iowa has won at least a share of the Big Ten dual meet championship. That would be even more impressive if dual meet championships were, like, a thing that people gave a damn about.
Friday night's win was Iowa's second shutout in Big Ten play (they also blanked Northwestern 54-0) and fifth this season (they swept Grand Canyon, Iowa Central Community College, and Cornell College at the Iowa City Duals). The dual began with an Indiana forfeit at 133 and Iowa kept things rolling from there, posting bonus points (two pins, two technical falls, and two major decisions) in six of their remaining nine matches. It was a thoroughly dominant performance, just as we've seen from Iowa throughout this Big Ten dual meet season.
Iowa won their nine Big Ten duals this season by a combined score of 315-51. That's an average score of 35-6. Iowa posted two shutouts (a school record 54-0 over Northwestern last month and a 45-0 win over Indiana last night) and scored at least 30 points in six wins. Only two teams (Illinois and Nebraska) scored in double figures against Iowa and no Big Ten opponent took more than three wins off Iowa in a dual meet.
Of the 90 total matches contested across those nine dual meets, Iowa won 75 of them and lost just 15 matches. Over half of those wins came with bonus points -- Iowa had 13 pins, 13 technical falls, and 12 major decisions among those 75 total wins. (They also had three wins via forfeit.) Four Iowa wrestlers (Thomas Gilman, Brandon Sorensen, Alex Meyer, and Sam Stoll) went unbeaten in Big Ten dual meets. Three others lost just once (Cory Clark, Sammy Brooks, Nathan Burak). Of Iowa's 15 total losses in Big Ten dual meets, 10 came from wrestlers at 141 (four losses) and 165 (six losses).
And yet for all these crooked scores and for all the dominance that's been on display, it's still not really clear how good this Iowa team is, thanks to an underwhelming schedule that's kept them from facing many of the best teams (and wrestlers) in the Big Ten. Are these performances a prelude to further Iowa dominance at the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments? Or are they setting up high expectations that won't be met? It's hard to say, although the strength of other teams (particularly Penn State) makes it rather unlikely that Iowa is going to steamroll to titles the way they steamrolled over so many Big Ten foes in dual meets this year.
|#3 Cory Clark
|WIN VIA FORFEIT
|UR Brody Grothus
|UR Tommy Cash
|#2 Brandon Sorensen
|UR Luke Blanton
|#18 Edwin Cooper, Jr.
|MAJ DEC (13-1)
|UR Jake Danishek
|UR Patrick Rhoads
|UR Bryce Martin
|#10 Alex Meyer
|#11 Nate Jackson
|#12 Sammy Brooks
|TECH FALL (23-8)
|UR Matt Irick
|#4 Nathan Burak
|TECH FALL (23-6)
|UR Jake Masengale
|#7 Sam Stoll
|UR Fletcher Miller
|#2 Thomas Gilman
|MAJ DEC (12-4)
|#19 Elijah Oliver
125: Gilman was in unfamiliar territory on Friday night, wrestling in the main event slot in the last match of the evening rather than in his traditional lead-off role. The end result was still something that we've become very familiar with, though -- another win, more bonus points. The match started slowly, but Gilman wore Oliver down and turned the second and third periods into takedown showcases and did just enough to pick up a major decision.
133: Cory Clark showed up. That's literally all he needed to do to earn Iowa six points on Friday night. On the plus side, the night off was probably good for him as he continues to get his knee healthy for tournament season.
141: Grothus controlled the tie-ups -- and the match -- from the start and finished things off in impressive fashion with a first-period pin. Cash isn't the most impressive opponent, but it was still good to see Grothus looking so in control and offensively potent at 141.
149: Brandon Sorensen's offensive funk continues as he recorded yet another low-scoring decision win. Blanton is a decent opponent, but it's frustrating to see Sorensen so unable -- or unwilling -- to get his offense going against opponents like this. He almost always scores on his shots when he finally does let loose, which makes it even more frustrating to see him not attack more. Sorensen keeps chugging along with wins, but for a guy who should be one of the top 2-3 best wrestlers on this Iowa team, he hasn't really been wrestling like it lately.
157: Recent Cooper matches have followed a familiar script: Cooper comes out of the gate with lightning-quick attack, records a takedown, and then settles back and tries to hold on for the finish. Friday's match kept part of that script -- Cooper indeed started fast out of the gate and recorded a takedown in the opening seconds of the match -- but rewrote the second part of that script. Cooper stayed on the attack, racked up more points, and ultimately won by major decision. That's a much happier result than some of the just-hang-on decision wins we've seen out of Cooper during his current six-match winning streak.
165: Rhoads got the nod on Senior Night and delivered in one of the closest -- and scrappiest -- matches of the night. Rhoads used a takedown in the second and a very late takedown in the third to pick up a tight 4-2 win. It wasn't really the most convincing performance, but I'll take any win Iowa can get at 165 this year.
174: The match of the night in terms of rankings also delivered probably the match of the night in terms of action -- it was certainly the closest match of the night. Alex Meyer dug himself a big early hole, giving up three first-period takedowns, but crucially he managed to get an escape after each one. He trailed 6-3 after the first period, but another escape to start the second and a takedown later and the match was all square at 6-6. And for a match that ultimately featured five takedowns (3 by Jackson, 2 by Meyer) the real difference in the match was the action on the mat. Simply put, Jackson couldn't keep Meyer down and Meyer could keep Jackson down. Meyer rode Jackson out after takedowns in the second and third period and that proved to be the difference in a very tight match. A very nice finish for Meyer; hopefully he can do more of that in the future without the ugly beginning and digging himself a big hole. On the bright side, he also wore this hat:
184: Remember what Sammy Brooks did last week? Well, he basically did the same thing this week, only instead of completing his technical fall in one period he stretched things out to the full three periods this week. Maybe he wanted to work on his cardio. In any event, he once again showcased his ability to demolish lesser opposition. That doesn't tell us much about his ceiling for March, but it sure is fun to watch.
197: Burak decided to join Brooks in the tech fall club with his own complete thumping of a lesser opponent. This was a fine bounce-back showing after last week's tough loss and a heck of a Senior Night showing for the most prominent senior on this Iowa team.
285: See Sam wrestle. See Sam pin. Stoll continued his recent impressive run with his team-leading 8th pin of the season. Like Brooks, wins like this don't tell us much about Stoll's ceiling in March or how high on the podium he might be able to finish, but it is a lot of fun to watch him bulldoze through weak opponents.
Watch some of the many wrestling highlights from Friday's 45-0 win against Indiana: https://t.co/CzWd6v7SIX— Hawkeye Wrestling (@Hawks_Wrestling) February 6, 2016
NEXT: Iowa heads to Havre, Montana to take on Montana State-Northern next Friday (8 PM CT, probably no TV). No, I'm not entirely sure why, either. MSU-Northern is an NAIA team, so another shutout certainly seems very possible.