Here we are in the best sports month of the year not named October or November, and wow is there a lot happening in the world of things we cover here at The Pants. Iowa wrestling’s the third best team in the Big Ten and has eight guys headed to the NCAA Tournament in two weekends, Iowa hoops is going to beat Indiana Thursday evening in the Big Ten Tournament, and Chad Greenway retired.
Conflicted sigh. Hopeful cheer. Reminiscent smile.
Seven Hawkeyes — Thomas GIlman, Cory Clark, Topher Carton, Brandon Sorensen, Michael Kemerer, Alex Meyer, and Sammy Brooks — all finished in an automatic qualifier positions over the weekend in Bloomington, and Joey Gunther received an at-large bid Tuesday to round out the Hawkeye congregation to St. Louis next weekend.
We’ll run through some Big Ten Tournament observations — ordered in pairs from worst to best — here and go more into depth next week closer to tournament time.
- Starting with the disappointing, let’s talk about 141 pounder Topher Carton and 165 pounder Joey Gunther. Both wrestled well below their seeds, the former seeding sixth and finishing ninth, with the latter seeding fifth and not placing. Combined, they went 4-6 with a grand total of three team points. Not that the Hawkeyes are going to win the NCAA title, but those two are going to have to wrestle a lot better than they did if Tom Brands wants his team to keep the score close enough for something crazy to happen, especially given they’re getting zero points from 197 and heavyweight without tournament qualifiers. Make this right, gentlemen.
- Now onto Alex Meyer and Brandon Sorensen, admittedly the couple with least in common for the intents and purposes of this post. Meyer dropped his quarterfinal match and wrestled his way to fifth on the backside, while Sorensen just barely lost in the semifinals before picking up a major and a pin to take third. These two are together because we saw the good sides of each and the bad sides of each. When they’re aggressive and pushing the pace, they’re in business and tough to beat, when they’re not they find themselves in trouble. Yes, that may be over simplifying things to a degree, but take control of matches, damnit.
- Cory Clark and Michael Kemerer both lost in the finals of their respective weights. Clark’s was an extremely painful last-second loss to Nathan Tomasello, Kemerer’s was a lopsided decision to Jason Nolf. The good news for Clark is that he seems to know how to wrestle with his shoulder injury — I wasn’t expecting much, but he got in on seemingly every shot he took against the fire hydrant and was one second away from overtime. Good news moving ahead. Kemerer did about all you could ask in his first postseason appearance. There isn’t a reason to think he can’t take second again at NCAAs — unfortunately no one’s beating Nolf this year as the guy’s an absolute freak.
- The winners! Gilman and Brooks both picked up bonus points in two of their three matches and recorded a decision in the other. Neither had any real trouble on their championship paths (it definitely helped Bo Nickal and T.J. Dudley were on the other side of the 184 bracket) and you should feel good about both guys moving forward. Both are performing at the best levels of their careers, and it’s going to be a pleasure watching them compete at NCAAs. Barring any hiccups, it’s not hard to see them on the big stage Saturday night.
I’m not a huge basketball guy, but this Hawkeye team has been incredibly enjoyable to watch down the stretch. A relative outsider’s perspective on tomorrow’s game: I think Tyler Cook turns in some really valuable minutes underneath, and Pete goes for 30 in a tight win.
Not really of note but here it is anyway: A few Hoosier friends said they expect a sloppy game. Take that for what it’s worth, or something.
We’ll end this Wednesday’s post with a sendoff of sorts for former and now-former Minnesota Viking Chad Greenway. The two-time Pro-Bowler, 11-year NFL veteran, and top-tier Kirk Ferentz product officially announced his retirement Tuesday.
He thanked Ferentz and a slew of other Hawkeye coaches in his Tuesday afternoon presser, the entirety of which is in that link.
Forever a class act, the Mount Vernon, SD, native totaled 1,101 tackles during his 156-game NFL career. He’s a rare model of longevity in the NFL, only missing four regular season games from 2007-2016. You don’t see that very often, folks.
The biggest tip of the cap goes to Greenway for his conduct on and off the field during his time at Iowa and with the Vikings. Thanks for the memories — good luck in your retirement.
In case you’re feeling nostalgic (turn off the sound, it’s obnoxious)…