The Oklahoma State Cowboys packed Gallagher-Iba Arena on Sunday afternoon and to the delight of the 13,000+ faithful in attendance, gave Iowa a butt kicking that we’re going to feel for at least two more weeks (Big Ten tournament time). I’d like to say we lost a nail-biter, but that ain’t so. Instead, they vaporized us 27-12. Yes, we’re that tiny second number. Oklahoma state improves to a perfect record of 15-0 and we fall to an imperfect 14-1 to close out the regular season.
What many labeled as the “Dual of the Season” between the sport’s two most “Prestigious Teams” quickly became something us Iowa Hawkeyes want to forget. Chalk it up as an early season loss and move on. Problem is, it’s at the end of the season, we simply can’t get more at the end than what we are. So what happened? It felt a bit like this:
A shit storm. Gross.
The Cowboys were ready to go and that was evident from the start. #2 Spencer Lee was taking on #4 Nick Piccininni and he was supposed to be rounding into form. He was supposed to get us on the board early and silence the rowdy Cowboy fans immediately. But he silenced someone alright — us. Lee sprawled after a deep shot by Piccininni, but made the ultimate mistake of putting his head to his knee. Piccininni saw it too, cradled him, and flipped him like a Sunday morning pancake. There’s nothing worse than our National Champ getting pinned. Parental advisory is cautioned:
Oh my God! Picc just pinned Spencer Lee. pic.twitter.com/xyN4sHDEB4— FloWrestling (@FloWrestling) February 24, 2019
Next up #3 Austin DeSanto was taking on the upstart freshman, #2 Daton Fix. In actuality, this was a brawl and a damn good match by Austin… until the 3rd. For the first 5 minutes, Austin was pushing and shoving Fix all over the mat. Both guys were aggressive and showed stellar defense on the few shots that were attempted. Then the elite ride came into play, yes the ride that we never seem to have or to beat. Fix double laced Austin for the entire 3rd period. Very rarely, if ever, looking for the fall or turn, but laced the lace because it’s allowed and in the rules. From there he rode DeSanto for 2 minutes and to a 2-0 win. I often question our decisions to go down and I do here again. FWIW- another 10 seconds and DeSanto gets the reversal at the end. Coulda, shoulda, woulda. Whatever. Let’s move on.
Max Murin needed to stop the bleeding and get us on the board against #14 Kaid Brock. We needed Murin to show up and claim the biggest victory of his young career. It didn’t happen as he was out-maneuvered, out-gunned, and out-wrestled for six minutes.
He finally found a TD late and nearly got some NF off an even later tilt. He lost 6-8. That close score does not show how dominate Brock truly was.
From this point on we were in the blackest of blackholes and had little chance to emerge from the other side alive. Well, we weren’t going down without a fight. One of the few kids that has been gradually getting better all year, #10 Pat Lugo, made another big stride forward as he knocked off #5 Kaden Gfeller. Lugo looked like a beast. His defense was solid, for the most part. Though he did get caught being lazy a couple times and reversed, but his offense is powering up. His high-crotch is elite and he’s finishing his moves faster. This is the Lugo we’ve been waiting for.
#7 Kaleb Young walked onto the mat and took it to Wyatt Sheets, who is apparently wrestling at a very high level right now. So I guess Young is a bit higher? Young won, but he missed a great opportunity to snag some much-needed bonus points along the way. KY was up 5-2 plus riding time midway through the second before he became stagnant and content to simply finish the match. He gave up a late reversal and ended up winning by the lackluster score of 9-5.
#2 Alex Marinelli was ready to take on a ranked guy in Chanlder Rogers, well Rogers didn’t wrestle at 165lbs, instead Jonce Blaylock stepped onto the mat and was promptly ambushed, brutalized, and kicked off the mat in 2:45. The Bull notched his ninth pin of the season and tied this sucker up.
The Hawks were back in it!!! We had life!!!
The jubilation was short lived because we proceeded to lose our final four matches. Mitch Bowman by pin, to none other than Chandler Rogers. Cash Wilcke by a frustrating decision, 3-6. Jacob Warner fell by another frustrating decision, 3-5. Then Sam Stoll lost by the most frustrating of decisions, 1-3.
In total, we won three of ten matches. Even with bonus points we mathematically could not have won the dual with only three victories. Three victories aren’t getting it done in any dual, it’s a mathematical impossibility.
Of the three bonus point matches we had one pin to their two. The seven remaining bouts were all decisions, but we were collectively outscored 28-20.
I’m trying my best not to overreact to this loss. The 27-12 letdown isn’t what we wanted, but it certainly isn’t as bad as it could have been. The problem with wrestling scores, on face value alone, is that you have no idea of the context within. You could lose every match in sudden victory and team-wise, still fall 30-0.
We were in several of those matches, especially the last three. We had the opportunities to snag victory from the jaws of defeat. But what’s grinding my gears this morning is how we lost the matches we lost. We seem to lose the same way, every time. Passiveness. Stale shots. Poor attempts. No urgency until it’s too late. And worst of all, being ridden. Other than DeSanto’s match, this wasn’t the biggest of issues. We didn’t give up too many RT points if I remember correctly, but we struggled to escape in a timely manner, so it was still a glaring defect that we need to fix and fix in a hurry.
I understand not shooting blind, but if we’re trailing late and need a TD to tie, we have to go, set up or not. At least go down swinging. Go for the throw, whether or not we fail is irrelevant, we’re going to lose if we don’t try, guaranteed.
Go big or go home. We went home.
So where do we go from here? is the next question. Can this team rebound and use this humiliating, humbling defeat as motivational fuel in the post season? At this point, no choice, we have to. But will it work?
Stay tuned for the next episode: “HAWKEYE WRESTLING TAKES ON THE BIG TEN”
Our 10 starters head into the post season and the Big Ten Tournament on March 9 and 10 in Minneapolis, MN.