After hitting the southern Iowa boarder, the weather picked up and I was forced to dump the ol’ Jeep. I quickly swapped a couple bags around, refilled the coffee thermos, and loaded up the dogsled to continue my trek north to the fabled lands that Gable built. My trusty dog Brooks (named after the famous ex-Hawk with the famous mullet) led the way as we mushed onward through the rain, sleet, and near whiteout conditions. Mother Nature gave us her best shot, but we weathered the storm and slid into town shouting, “Not tonight Mother Nature. Not. To. Night!”
Despite the events outside, nothing could stop Carver-Hawkeye Arena from filling up inside. 13,405 of the greatest fans in the world ignored the weather, ignored the political rallies, and ignored the absurdly late start to cram in and cheer on the #1 ranked Iowa Hawkeyes as they buried #4 Ohio State, 24-10 in front of the 13th largest crowed in CHA history and the 33rd largest in wrestling history.
Not too shabby for a Friday night in late January.
Dear readers, as I get older, my opportunities to go back home to Iowa get less and less. My opportunities to make it up to Iowa City are next to nothing. But Friday night was a sight to behold. Near max capacity, the music, the pyrotechnics, the atmosphere, the glowsticks, and the knowledgeable, but rowdy crowd (from both sides) made this truly memorable. These elements made it damn near perfect.
IOWA 24, OHIO ST 10
165: #2 Alex Marinelli dec. over #12 Ethan Smith, 14-10. Hawks 3-0
174: #2 Michael Kemerer dec. over #8 Kaleb Romero, 7-1. Hawks 6-0
184: #9 Abe Assad dec. over Rocky Jordan, 3-1. Hawks 9-0
197: #1 Kollin Moore dec. over Cash Wilcke, 8-3. Hawks 9-3
285: #3 Tony Cassioppi dec. over #23 Gary Traub, 9-3. Hawks 11-3*
125: #1 Spencer Lee tech. fall Hunter Lucas, 18-0. Hawks 16-3
133: #2 Austin DeSanto tech. fall #20 Jordan Decatur, 27-12. Hawks 21-3
141: #1 Luke Pletcher major dec. over Carter Happel, 14-5. Hawks 21-7
149: #6 Sammy Sasso dec. over #1 Pat Lugo, 2-1 (TB1). Hawks 21-10
157: #4 Kaleb Young dec. over Elijah Cleary, 4-1. Hawks 24-10
***Hawks were deducted a team point at intermission due to loss of mat control***
We took seven of ten matches and won the takedown battle, 27-11… but 12 of those came from Austin DeSanto alone. This win pushes our record to a beautiful 8-0 and drops Ohio St to 7-2. We doubled up on our bonus point wins from last week with Spencer Lee and DeSanto pushing the pace and both coming away with tech. falls. However, we did plug in two backups (Carter Happel and Cash Wilcke) to face off against Ohio State’s #1 ranked wrestlers (Luke Pletcher and Kollin Moore) and dropped both of those matches. Both wrestled very well and Wilcke did his job to keep it to a decision. #1 Pat Lugo tallied our third and final loss of the night in what ended up being one of the oddest and most infuriating matches in recent memory. Lugo’s inexcusable bout definitely left a blemish on what was otherwise a very solid all-around performance.
Brands chimed in in the post-dual presser about how he needs to learn to enjoy these types of victories and try to live it up a bit.
“Why do I feel like it was even? I have to learn to enjoy it. 7-3 against the No. 3 team in the country. I’m not changing. I’m not saying that, but come on, I want to take on the whole doggone world right now. But our guys did a good job. Lugo, if they call that cradle rule, 8-2. If Happel believes, 9-1. If we throw Warner out there, 10-0. How’s that for chilling out?”
He would add in some constructive criticism for Lugo, Cassioppi, and even himself.
“Cassioppi got off the bottom there in the end of the period there. Lost all his riding time, stayed very composed, but you ask about pace. I don’t know, I think there’s certain things I need to be better at and one of those things is being political. Try to win the political battle and not try to take on the whole world maybe. That’ll help our pace too. That’ll help my pace. I need to be more of a professional out there, ya know? There were some things that were frustrating and the referee in Lugo’s match, but that’s not the referee, that’s Lugo and Lugo knows that and that’s the thing. That’s a great starting spot. We’re going to fight for our guys, that’s for sure, but I need to be better. I lost a team point.”
It’s pretty amazing that our coach opens up like this but remains a class act. He knows his guys have a lot of work to do, but he’s right there with them and knows there’s some things he can do mat-side to give them a better chance at prevailing. In the grand scheme of things, our pace was much better than it was against Nebraska. Even with two of our top five ranked starters in Max Murin and Jacob Warner out of the lineup and Lugo’s semi-upset at 149lbs, we wrestled more consistently and at a higher pace. If The Huskers represented a low point in energy, I’d say we’ve progressed nicely over a six day turnaround.
With that said, it should be noted how difficult this meet was from an officiating standpoint. This was one of the most inconsistent duals I have seen in quite some time in terms of reviews, length of reviews, theatrics while making calls after reviews, blown calls, and the downright lazy stall warning/ calls it was surreal.
Stall calls are almost always purely subjective, but watching Carter Happel wrestle his guts out against #1 Pletcher, getting run through, to work for an escape, take two shots, getting in deep twice on both but failing to convert, to immediately get hit with stalling is head scratching. Then one match later watching Sammy Sasso refuse to take a shot against Lugo for nearly 9 minutes is aggravating. Then taking into account the three reviews that all went against Lugo is downright infuriating. What pushed most fans over the edge was the melodramatic Shakespearean rulings to the reviews. The ref wasn’t so much announcing as he was stealing the spotlight and proclaiming to his subjects. It was uncalled for.
Angel Rivera has been known to wrestling fans for awhile now and has what appears to have an unhealthy bias towards certain wrestlers/ teams. He’s plagued the Hawks for years , but unfortunately his antics are starting to spread and infect everyone else. I’m anxiously waiting for the moment when the NCAA finally reviews his matches. It won’t happen, but it should.
Alas, I will get off my soap box and keep this diddy going.
165: When Marinelli was attacking he locked great. When he slowed his pace and shuffled his feet, he got taken down. Twice. Next week he faces #1 Vincenzo Joseph (PSU), he cannot afford any sort of laziness if he plans on upsetting him for the third time in a row.
174: Kemerer’s motor and offense aren’t there yet, but he’s inching closer to where he needs to be. After all, he has knocked off three top eight opponents in three consecutive weeks, including former All-American Mikey Labriola. Kem is still struggling to finish his shots and doesn’t appear to be setting up his those shots properly, but he’s still savvy enough that he’s been getting it done.
184: What else can we say about Abe Assad at this point? His wrestling IQ is at an exception level for being a true freshman. He’s wrestling smart, composed, and hard. This wasn’t the offensive output he was looking for, but we should tip the hat to Rocky Jordan for bringing the heat. Jordan isn’t getting the recognition yet, but he will. This win is going to look much better come March because Jordan is going to be a good one.
197: Unbeknownst to Warner, Wilcke followed him out during the lineup announcements and also shook Kollin Moore’s hand. This was a lesson for Warner. He was punished and thrown in the doghouse and there’s no other way around it. However, Cash Money preformed admirably up a weight. He was clearly outclassed, but he kept the match to a decision and received a standing ovation from the Hawkeye faithful.
285: Big Cass is a big bad man. Cassioppi continues to impress midway through his freshman campaign and now boasts a record of 13-0 with a 46% bonus rate. Against Traub he continued to flash quick feet, athleticism, and power. He pursued Gas Tank Gary all over the mat and threw in some dominating rides and mat returns that rumbled the arena. Cass is a helluva lot of fun to watch.
125: Spencer “The Tech” Lee is a machine. He’s the damn terminator. This 18-0 tech marks yet another first period blowout as he’s now outscored his opponents 84-1 over his last five matches… Domination.
If we've said it once, we'll say it a million times: @LeeSpencerlee36 is a cheat code.— Iowa On BTN (@IowaOnBTN) January 25, 2020
The 2x NCAA champion secured a first period tech fall for the win. @FloWrestling
BTN x @AutoOwnersIns pic.twitter.com/AXqnFMwpbV
133: DeSanto charged forward immediately off the whistle and Decatur dropped levels and snagged an early takedown. And that’s where his points stopped. And that’s where DeSanto’s beat down began. ADS proceeded to rattle off twelve straight takedowns over the next 5:58 to obliterate the young Buckeye, 27-12. 27 points is impressive, but what might top that is 10 of Decatur’s 12 points were all off intentional releases. Very rarely have I ever seen someone quit. Seen someone destroyed. Seen someone so broken.
141: Max Murin has been battling shoulder issues this year and Brands gave him the night off. In his place, Carter Happel took to the mat to battle #1 Luke Pletcher. Happel was out-wrestled and thoroughly beat, but he was not outworked and even got in deep on a couple of shots against Pletcher that otherwise could’ve made this match really interesting. Hats off to Happel for the spirited fight. The stall calls against him were criminal.
149: I complained enough about the officiating earlier, so I’ll stay away from that now. Lugo was in deep on three occasions and failed to convert on any of those against Sasso and that ultimately cost him this match. Lugo was aggressive and wrestled smart, but didn’t get it done in the end. Sasso is athletic and lanky and that seems to be what hinders Lugo the most. Adjustments need to be made and I truly think he’ll do it. He knows he can get in deep, but now he needs to convert those shots into points. Work his way up above the knee, plank the leg, and drive through his shot. It’s a big if, but if Lugo can keep up his pace, elite energy, and find a way to snag these TD’s, he’s going to be awfully tough in March. More importantly, he needs to find a way to upend Sasso because he’ll face him against at the B1G’s.
157: Elijah Clearly has been majored only once in his NCAA career that spans 66 matches. Point being, he’s a guy that knows how to keep matches close. A 4-1 win by Young seems pretty solid in retrospect. KY has been a bit inconsistent with his offense so far this season, but it appears that he’s starting to turn the corner and find his rhythm.
Next up we welcome #2 Penn State to Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday, Jan. 31 at 8PM.
This is the dual we’ve been anxiously awaiting since the schedule was announced. #1 vs #2!!!