The Hawkeyes are now sitting at a perfect 8-0 on the season with all ten of our starters firmly within the top ten of their respective weights across all rankings.
Our team has retained their #1 ranking for nearly two consecutive months and have wrestled incredibly consistent to keep each grappler in the upper echelons.
We have nine ranked in the top five, including seven in the top 3: #1 Spencer Lee, #2 Austin DeSanto, #3 Max Murin, #3 Pat Lugo, #2 Alex Marinelli, #2 Michael Kemerer, and #3 Tony Cassioppi.
However, with a high ranking comes the high risk of dropping. It goes without saying, but the higher you go, the harder it is to retain that position AND to continue the ascent to the top. But a loss, especially a bad loss, will send you careening down and plummeting below a position you otherwise shouldn’t be at.
So far, we’ve done a good job at avoiding those bad losses. Outside of a rough patch at 184lbs at the Midlands and Abe Assad’s insertion into the lineup, we’ve seemingly patched the hole in the upper weights and have given ourselves another solid All-American threat there. BTW- That’s three Hawkeyes that have appeared in the top ten at 184: Cash Wickle, Nelson Brands, and now Assad.
There’s still a discrepancy with Max Murin at 141lbs, landing anywhere from #3 to #9. Despite a rough outing against Nebraska’s Chad Red, he remains #3 on Flowrestling, but has dropped to #9 on Intermat, one slot below Red. The 6-2 loss to Mr. Red looks even worse when compared to the losses of Red. While he’s only lost to ranked wrestlers, 3 of his 5 have been by bonus point, which doesn’t reflect well on Murin.
Mad Max is allegedly sitting out his second dual in a row and won’t face #1 Nick Lee (PSU) this Friday in Carver-Hawkeye. Thankfully though, if he’s he’s able to heal up, he still has two ranked guys left on the schedule after that: #6 Mitch McKee (Minn) and #17 Dusty Hone (OKST). Wins here can get him back on track and boost his RPI for March, but until he proves he can topple the other AA threats, the #7-#9 range is suitable.
Jacob Warner finds himself in a similar situation. He’s lost 3 of his last 5 matches, but right smack in the middle he upset #2 Christian Brunner (Pur). That win alone has kept him afloat and relevant. Flowrestling is still firmly behind him and he’s only wavered a couple positions, while Intermat and Wrestlestat have penalized him heavily for those losses. Warner can get back to his winning ways on Friday against #15 Shakur Rasheed (PSU).
Despite losing a frustrating match to Sammy Sasso (OSU), Pat Lugo only dropped two slots and finds himself back at his familiar preseason ranking: #3. TBH- Lugo wasn’t hit as hard as he could have been with that loss, however, they heavily awarded Sassy Sammy as he climbed four slots, from #6 to #2. Boo Lewallen (OKST) now sits atop the mountain at 149lbs.
The only way a #2 or #3 or #4 ranked wrestler can climb even higher is to knock off someone above them. This Friday we have that opportunity in two different matchups that will feature the #1 and #2 ranked wrestlers in the country.
165lbs: #1 Vincenzo Joseph vs #2 Alex Marinelli
174lbs: #1 Mark Hall vs #2 Michael Kemerer
Even with Murin, Lugo, and Warner stumbling we still find ourselves heavy favorites as we turn the page into February. I would be shocked and pleasantly surprised if the NCAA’s turned out the way they’re projecting, but I think we can all safely assume that the potential and the talent is there. Nonetheless, guys will take losses, from all teams, including Iowa. 136.5 points and 10 All-Americans would immediately turn this team into an all-time great. Can it happen? Sure. But will it? I doubt it.
But as much as we want it, we don’t need ten champs to bring this thing home. Punching 4 into the finals (Lee, DeSanto, Marinelli and Kemerer) with the other finding the podium will get the job done. The biggest factor that can make up for any potential point loss in March, is the bonus point factor, which all ten guys can do.
FWIW- If The Bull and Kemdog can pull off a win on Friday night, that will boost our projected point total by as little as eight more points, further pushing the lead.
Seven of the top then tens all reign from the B1G. Our conference has a stranglehold on the rest of the country and very well could sweep the medal stand in March.
Currently, there is only one other team left unscathed: #11 NC State (11-0)
Northwestern and Princeton are the biggest eyesores with losing records. But, NW has two legit finalist contenders in #3 Sebastian Rivera (133lbs) and #1 Ryan Deakin (157lbs) while Princeton has two of their own in #3 Patrick Glory (125lbs) and #3 Patrick Brucki (197lbs).
As for other Iowa teams: #12 Iowa State is doing all they can to keep their heads above water at this point. They’ve split their last six duals and head coach Kevin Dresser just railed his team publicly after their beat down to Okie State, 23-9. Trouble is a-brewin’ in Ames.
Northern Iowa doesn’t appear on our graphic, but they clock in at #16 after upsetting Okie State the night before they rebounded against ISU. All three of these teams are in the Big 12, which will make for a fun conference tournament.
There’s some big duals this weekend that could shake things up drastically.
#1 Iowa vs #2 Penn State
#5 Minnesota vs #7 Purdue
#6 Arizona State vs #21 Stanford
#13 NC State vs #19 Pittsburgh
#3 Ohio State vs #11 Nebraska
#4 Wisconsin vs #7 Purdue
Links to rankings: