“Great big globs of greasy, grimy, gopher guts!”
It’s difficult to imagine we had to rebound after winning our 28th Midlands Championship, but that’s exactly what we needed to shake off the cobwebs of a long two-week hiatus. Our Iowa Hawkeyes traveled to South Canada to collect some gopher pelts. Seven of our ten gopher traps went off victoriously.
Austin DeSanto and Kaleb Young made the biggest impacts on the night while Alex Marinelli notched his fifth fall of the season to give us some much needed breathing room early on. Pat Lugo and Cash Wilcke also looked improved, but questions remain about Spencer Lee ,Jacob Warner, and in my mind, some more questionable coaching calls.
We kicked things off Sunday afternoon at 157lbs. Here’s how it turned out.
IOWA 24, MINNESOTA 10
157: #6 Kaleb Young dec. #9 Steve Bleise, 7-1. Iowa 3, Minn 0
165: #2 Alex Marinelli fall Carson Brolsma, 5:55 Iowa 9, Minn 0
174: #12 Devin Skatzka dec. Mitch Bowman, 11-9 Minn 3, Iowa 9
184: #18 Cash Wilcke dec. Brandon Krone, 9-2 Iowa 12, Minn 3
197: #5 Jacob Warner dec. Dylan Anderson, 9-4 Iowa 15, Minn 3
285: #2 Gable Stevenson MD. Connor Corbin, 12-3 Minn 7, Minn 15
125: #2 Spencer Lee dec. #7 Sean Russell, 4-0 Iowa 18, Minn 7
133: #10 Austin DeSanto dec. #8 Ethan Lizak 6-1 Iowa 21*, Minn 7
141: #7 Mitch McKee dec. #19 Max Murin, 5-3 Minn 10, Iowa 21
149: #16 Pat Lugo MD. #19 Tommy Thorn 14-0 Iowa 24, Minn 10
***Iowa was deducted a team point after DeSanto’s win***
We only had two wins by bonus: The Bull’s pin early on and Pat Lugo’s major decision to cap off the night. Cash Wilcke was up by 8 with 30 seconds left when Brands made him cut Krone to try and snag another TD. Whether or not they were aware they had the major locked or they simply wanted to push Wilcke, I don’t know. Either way, Wilcke wasn’t able to secure another TD and they gave away a team point.
Something similar could be said in Jacob Warner’s sleepwalk of a match. Also, we finally saw Austin DeSanto lose his composure in his tremendous upset and beat down of Ethan Lizak. All in all, his antics cost us a team point. By my count, that’s three team points we handed back. Sure, against Minnesota maybe that’s fine, but against some of the far better schools (looking at you Okie St) that could be the difference between living and dying.
157: This lived up to the #6 vs #9 expectations. For the most part Young and Bleise showed why they are both ranked in the top 10. Heavy hands, elite defense, and solid rides dominated the the match for 6:45 and a 1-1 tie. Suddenly KY found himself in a body lock and looking down the wrong way of an untimely throw…then this happened
The Minnesota faithful went quiet and the next match didn’t help boost their spirits.
165: The Bull came in and dominated, per usual, so there really isn’t too much discuss here. Alex got a TD within the first seven seconds and rode for the remainder of the first period. A couple of stall calls later he padded his lead to 6-0 before he threw in the wicked ¾ nelson, flipped, and stuck him.
174: Bowman came out and really struggled to get things going early. He gave up a quick TD that directly lead to two NF points. He has to stop exposing his back on takedowns. It cost him dearly at Midlands and it cost him here again. Skatzka threw in the legs, rode tough, and showed far superior technique as he extended his lead to 7-1, then he hit a wall and Bowman made a comeback. A couple TD’s later Bowman found himself right back in the match and needed one more to tie and force OT, alas he didn’t get it as time expired mid-scramble and he lost 11-9.
Bowman’s tank looks much improved over his poor showing at Midlands, but he needs to come out firing and stop gifting points early on. I still think he has what it takes to at make it to the round of 12 in March, but it goes hand and hand with improved mat awareness. Perhaps “cautious optimism” is on the horizon. Either way, he wrestles with a lot of heart and that’s something that can’t be coached.
184: Cash Wilcke literally beat up on Krone because this match never felt like it could get away from him, but it did feel like it should have been a bigger ass kicking. Wilcke has the ability to change levels and shoot from any angle, he just needs to pull the damn trigger and go. You could hear Tom Brands screaming, “Speed it up, wrestle now! Don’t let him slow you down!” Sadly, Krone was able to do that.
Here’s where I get confused. Wilcke is up 8-1 with RT and Brands forces him to cut Krone, collapsing the major decision and forcing Wilcke to get another TD. I like the urgency and the willingness to force a wrestler into that situation, but Cash regularly shows that he doesn’t wrestle with that urgency… and it may never change. Personally, I would’ve rather seen Wilcke retain his major instead of failing in the coach’s goals. Either way, he looked good and it was a solid win that should’ve been more.
197: Jacob Warner continues to struggle and this marks several matches this year where he’s seemingly faded down the stretch. He rolled his ankle back on Dec 1 against #6 Willie Miklus, but is it still aggravating him? Did this cost him a few weeks of conditioning? At this point in the season I’m hard pressed to believe his freestyle activities this summer are still playing a major role in stamina. Perhaps there’s some lifestyle changes he’s dealing with while being a full time starter?
The first sign of fatigue came on at the end of the first period. He looked sluggish and wobbled about while coming back to the center of the mat. By my count, he also had two cautions when starting in the top position because he pretty much fell/ leaned into Anderson directly before the whistle/ restart.
Warner has the technique and body frame to succeed right now at this weight, but his mental game and conditioning need to catch up quickly. Either way he still won 9-4, which is convincing enough, but it should’ve been much, much more.
285: So Brands fooled us again! Instead of Aaron “The Bear” Costello trotting out to face #2 Gable Stevenson, it was our 3rd string 197 pounder, Connor Corbin. He probably had the toughest task of anyone this entire meet. Not only was he giving up probably 30+ pounds, he was going against arguably the best heavyweight in the country. This was a total mind game on the part of Tom Brands and it worked. This was a role of the dice that Corbin’s quickness and herculean strength could slow Stevenson down just enough and keep this from going into tech or pin territory. The gamble paid off and despite losing by a 12-3 MD, Corbin made Stevenson look downright silly.
Mr. Minnesota failed to turn him and gassed hard by the 3rd period. He still managed a few more TD’s, but they didn’t come easy and he didn’t look like he was having any fun. He wasn’t able to taunt or do his patent-stealing Ali Shuffle either. Corbin was getting rolled, but still appeared to be having fun. He continually ran back to the center of the mat and could have easily gone another seven minutes. Job well down, Corbin.
125: We have officially gone into Defcon Level 2. I’m hesitant to sound the alarm and trip the red lights, but we’re inching closer to that point. By score, Lee dominated 4-0, but he still didn’t look good against #7 Sean Russell, who he teched last year.
Russell was in deep several times and Lee’s only TD came when Russell had a single leg and Lee dove back into his ankle, initiating a wild scramble that resulted in two points for the Hawkeye. Though he did ride tough, this was the second match in a row he was unable to do anything on top, let alone score near fall points, which is his bread and butter.
The schematics have been made, the blueprints are in, and the code to keeping things close with Lee has been broken.
1. Stay in space in neutral and don’t tie up.
2. Take your shots from space.
3. If you’re down, build a strong base and keep your arms extended so Lee can’t re-bar.
Right now, it appears that Lee isn’t comfortable shooting from space and if he can’t turn a guy with his gut wrench/ re-bar, he doesn’t have a backup move in his arsenal. I truly hope he isn’t becoming a one trick pony on offense, because three guys (Glory, Rivera, and Russell) now have him figured out offensively.
At least he still has his elite defense and flexibility. Multiple times he went into the splits to avoid giving up his other leg, but he needs to stop giving up one in the first place.
He’s still going to steamroll lesser competition, but the elite guys are closing the gap.
133: #10 Austion DeSanto came in and absolutely wiped the mat with #8 Ethan Lizak. ADS was setting up his shots and executing them to perfection. He built a 4-1 lead going into the 2nd where naturally Lizak chose the top position. ADS was ridden out for the entire 2nd period, but he continually worked to build a base and didn’t let Lizak get any cheap tilts for NF.
Moving into the 3rd period Austin chose down (whaaa) and snagged a quick reversal to extend his lead to 6-1, which is how it would end. Lizak is pretty much a lower grade Spencer Lee while riding, he’s a tilt machine. So voluntarily going underneath such a opportunistic opponent is daring to say the least. It’s a big time roll of the dice that paid off.
The score doesn’t reflect how dominating of a win this was for DeSanto and he should move up to #8 or #9 in the rankings and give him some confidence because he just knocked off an NCAA finalist.
Unfortunately, there was a large chunk of bad with the good. ADS lost his cool at the end of the match and shoved Lizak’s head into the mat then started taunting the crowd. Iowa was deducted a team point because of this. I wasn’t aware of this at the time, but apparently Lizak had been challenging ADS for months and it all stems from this little dandy:
I don’t like Austin’s behavior, in fact I think it sucks. I don’t want to see any wrestler, let alone a Hawkeye act like that. But with that being said, if you play with fire you’re going to get burned and Lizak got scorched. Pay back’s a b****, aint it?
FYI- It has been deleted as of this morning. Nothing spells embarrassment like “Delete Tweet”
141: Murin wrestles with a lot heart, now he just needs his technique and experience to catch up. He hasn’t gotten blown out by the top tier guys he’s faced, but he doesn’t have a go to shot to capitalize on his ability to keep the matches close. Once he develops that aspect of his game he’s going to become an incredibly dangerous wrestler.
He has the ability to get in deep with his shots, now he just needs to work on finishing them. He had McKee in a vulnerable position a few times, but failed to convert and get the TD. If he finds a way to finish any of those shots he pulls an upset. It’ll come, we just need to be patient.
149: After an unsteady performance at the Midlands, Lugo rebounded with the best of them and blasted #19 Tommy Thorn, 14-0. Thorn has struggled at times throughout his career, but he is a 2017 All-American and a guy you can’t sleep on. Lugo didn’t and after his first TD he turned on the afterburners and didn’t let up. While on top, on two separate occasions, Lugo fainted back forward pressure, eased off, then let Thorn push and sucked him back for a reversed headlock to score near fall points. It was savvy, smart move by Lugo and one that Thorn failed to learn from.
At times throughout the season Lugo has struggled with length, but not against Thorn. He didn’t have many opportunities, but on both of his TD’s he didn’t stop and turtle-up with a leg, instead he kept moving and finished the shots. That’s what he needs to do all the time and if he can, he’s going to be very dangerous. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the Pat Lugo we’ve been waiting for.
So there we have it. It was an all-around better team performance, and everyone seemed ready to go. I hate saying “good loses” but the three we had we can learn from and take something positive with us. There are a lot of opportunities for constructive criticism that makes this particular extermination of the gophers all the more enjoyable.
“In the immortal words of Jean Paul Sartre, ‘Au revoir, gopher’.”
Next up we take on #13 Rutgers on Friday, January 18 at 8GT.