Our No. 1 ranked Iowa Hawkeyes hit the road for a double dual weekend full of awesomeness. We take on the Indiana Hoosiers on Friday, Jan 10 and No. 6 Purdue Boilermakers on Sunday, Jan 12.
This kicks off the heart of the season and will feature a few tests for our young Hawkeye squad and should be a perfect primer for the teams that come after the Indiana tour: Nebraska, Ohio State, and Penn State… all before the end of January. It’s been a slow burn start to the season, but on Friday things get shifted into high gear. There’s no turning back.
The Hawks have obliterated Indiana and Purdue throughout the ages.
Against Indiana we are 39-4-3 and are in the midst of a 24 meet win streak dating back to 1968. In fact, the Hoosiers only have one home win against Iowa since the first matchup in 1918.
We also lead the all-time series versus the No. 6 ranked Boilermakers, 42-4-3, and we currently have a 30 meet win streak going since 1961. Purdue hasn’t knocked off the Hawks at home since 1954.
History doesn’t mean everything, but what it does mean, is that a vast majority of you unfortunate readers (myself included) have never suffered through a defeat to either of these teams. Conversely, that means a majority of either of these team’s fan bases have never experienced a home victory against the most historic team in wrestling history. For further in-depth details please head over here.
Although Indiana has only wrestled one dual (a 26-12 loss to North Dakota State) they have participated in several tournaments so far. They are not a particularly deep team from top to bottom, but they did have three guys make their way to a podium finish at the Midlands Tournament a few weeks ago: #6 Brock Hudkins (125lbs – placed 6th), #24 Jacob Covaciu (174lbs- placed fifth), and his backup, Donnell Washington (174lbs- 6th place).
Hudkins was looking good against #3 Patrick Glory (Princeton) in the Midlands semi-finals, all knotted at a 6-6 tie before being injured and ultimately medically forfeiting out. As of right now he’s not listed on the depth chart, so without him Indiana loses their only shot at a single win and even then, that wasn’t going to happen against Spencer Lee.
This will be a tough for this team, but it should still offer a fun and hostile environment.
The Boilermakers have been putting in some serious mat time as they’ve already wrestled 8 duals and a few tournaments to boot. Their lone loss was a 22-19 thriller against Arizona State early in the year.
Their incredible early season workload is already paying dividends as they currently have six wrestlers appearing in the Flowrestling rankings with four of them in the top 10: #7 Devin Schroder (125lbs), #6 Kendall Coleman (157lbs), #4 Dylan Lydy (174lbs), and #2 Christian Brunner (197lbs).
I don’t suppose Schroder will give Spencer Lee too much trouble, but the other three could potentially upset the applecart and make this dual interesting if we don’t stay on top of it.
Former Hawkeye and current head coach, Tony Ersland, has his team trending in the right direction. They’ve finished in the top 25 the past three years, but this could arguably be the best team they had since they finished #14 in 2012-13.
Our Hawks are fresh off a record setting Midlands performance and look to continue that momentum over the next couple of days. Despite the beat down we had a couple hiccups along the way. Despite being the starter, Nelson Brands bottomed out and failed to land on the podium, whereas Cash Wilcke avenged an early loss and ran the gauntlet of six consecutive wins in the consolations to battle back for 3rd.
Jacob Warner also fell apart in the semis before tanking out in the medal round to take 4th. Neither should be tested against Indiana, but both will have solid matchups against Purdue, primarily Warner who will be facing off with the Midlands champ, #2 Christian Brunner. Regardless of the set back, Warner seems to be fully aware of his shortcomings and is anxious to get back to the mat to prove his mettle.
#3 Michael Kemerer will also make his return to the mat on Friday. Purdue’s #4 Dylan Lydy will offer Kemdob his toughest test in well over a year. This is the match that will truly show us how well he’s going to stack up against the elite of his new weight class.
Jumping back to our 184lbers, the murky waters just got murkier. Redshirt freshman, Abe Assad, has firmly catapulted himself into the conversation and now finds himself knee deep in the lineup chart. I would be incredibly surprised if the redshirt is pulled and he sees action, but if either Cash or Nelson fail to impress against Indiana, Assad could be inserted in against Purdue to try and ignite our weakest link.
Again, I doubt we see him make his varsity debut this season, but head coach Tom Brands is going to play his best hand possible… and Assad could be part of that equation. We’ll find out soon enough.
KEY MATCHUPS VS INDIANA:
174: #3 Michael Kemerer (4-0) vs #24 Jacob Covaciu (12-5). Covaciu is a young grappler who appears to be coming into his own this season. He’s a returning national qualifier, but that has a few solid wins to his name, but is looking for his first big signature win. On the flip side, Kemdog is only four matches into his run at the 184lb field and we’re still trying to see how he stacks up against some of the bigger names. I fully expect Kemerer to run through Covaciu, but this almost marks the first time he’s faced a ranked opponent at this weight class.
Wrestlestat.com predicts a 43-0 win for the good guys.
KEY MATCHUPS VS PURDUE:
125: #1 Spencer Lee (6-0) vs #7 Devin Schroder (17-2). Schroder reached the R16 in last year’s NCAA’s and held returning finalist, #2 Jack Mueller (UNC) to a decision in a 6-2 loss early in the season. But Spencer Lee is arguably the best wrestler in college for a reason. This is another opportunity for Mr. Lee to up end and wreck another ranked opponent and further distance himself from the rest of the field.
149: #1 Pat Lugo (10-0) vs #14 Griffin Parriott (13-4). Lugo will be heavily favored in this matchup, but it also marks the first time in Lugo’s career that he’ll be wrestling with the No. 1 ranking before his name. We all want to see how he handles the added pressure. Mind you, he’ll be squaring off against Indiana two days before this, but Griffin will be by far his biggest test of the road trip. I’m looking for Lugo to come out and remain aggressive. If he bonus points his way through the weekend it’ll be a big boon to our expectations.
157: #4 Kaleb Young (7-2) vs #6 Kendall Coleman (21-4). These two duked it out at the Midlands with Kaleb pinning Coleman in SV1. KY has struggled at times throughout the first couple months and is 2-2 over his last four matches. Back to back wins against an opponent of Coleman’s caliber could go a long way to restoring KY’s confidence in his own offense.
We all know he’s a hell of a scrambler and has truly elite defense, but he needs to get to his offense early and often. I don’t look for him only to win, but to stretch the margin of victory and prove once again that he’s a finalist contender.
174: #3 Michael Kemerer (4-0) vs #4 Dylan Lydy (20-0).
As I mentioned earlier, this was be Kemdog’s toughest go since the 2018 NCAA’s. Lydy has been on a warpath this season and sits at 20-0 with two big time wins over former AA, #5 Bryce Steiert (UNI). Despite his unblemished record he’s only bonusing 35% of his matches and has three wins in SV1 to add to that. There’s only two guys ranked higher than Kemerer and that’s #1 Mark Hall (PSU) and #2 Jordan Kutler (Lehigh). Lydy held both of those guys to close decisions last year, so the talent is definitely there.
Kemerer is a relentless attacker though and that will be on full display on Sunday. If Kemerer can come out and put forth a decisive victory it’ll set the entire 174lb field on high alert. This is a barometer to see where both guys are at and I’m beyond excited for this bout.
197: #4 Jacob Warner (8-2) vs #2 Christian Brunner (20-2). This weekend is a redemption tour for Warner. He took a serious tumble in the Midlands, but luckily for him, he has several big matchups on the horizon to get himself back on track. We were all worried that his loss would drop him further down the rankings, but whatever damage was done can be reversed with a win in West Lafayette.
Warner has all the physical tools to climb to the top of the podium, but he’s had some mental lapses along the way that have kept him from maximizing his efforts. Though I will say, he always seems to bonus back and refocus after a tough loss and some time away.
These two are 1-1 against each other with Brunner winning in 2018 and Warner winning the second round in last year’s dual.
Warner needs to stay focused and wrestle his match. He needs to stay aggressive and work his ties. I especially like his chances if he can snag a couple first period takedowns. Warner has the toolset, now he needs to show up and get to work.
Wrestlestat.com predicts a 33-3 win for Iowa.
PROJECTED LINEUP INDIANA DUAL:
125: #1 Spencer Lee (6-0) vs Liam Cronin (6-8)
133: #2 Austin DeSanto (8-1) vs Jonathan Moran (5-12) // Cayden Rooks (15-7)
141: #7 Max Murin (8-0) vs Eddie Bolivar (4-4)
149: #1 Pat Lugo (10-0) vs Graham Rooks (6-3)
157: #4 Kaleb Young (7-2) vs Fernando Silva (7-9) // Joey Sanchez (11-9)
165: #2 Alex Marinelli (10-0) vs Davey Tunon (6-10) // Dillon Hoey (5-6)
174: #3 Michael Kemerer (4-0) vs #24 Jacob Covaciu (12-5)
184: #9 Cash Wilcke (11-2) // Nelson Brands (4-3) // RS Abe Assad (15-3) vs Jake Hinz (5-10)
197: #4 Jacob Warner (8-2) vs Nick Willham (15-8) // Spencer Irick (3-7)
285: #4 Tony Cassioppi (9-0) vs Rudy Streck (2-12) // Jake Kleimola (9-9)
PROJECTED LINEUP PURDUE DUAL:
125: #1 Spencer Lee (6-0) vs #7 Devin Schroder (17-2)
133: #2 Austin DeSanto (8-1) vs Travis Ford-Melton (11-5)
141: #7 Max Murin (8-0) vs Parker Fillius (12-3)
149: #1 Pat Lugo (10-0) vs #14 Griffin Parriott (13-4)
157: #4 Kaleb Young (7-2) vs #6 Kendall Coleman (21-4)
165: #2 Alex Marinelli (10-0) vs Tanner Webster (2-4)
174: #3 Michael Kemerer (4-0) vs #4 Dylan Lydy (20-0)
184: #9 Cash Wilcke (11-2) // Nelson Brands (4-3) // RS Abe Assad (15-3) vs Max Lyon (12-7) // Jared Florell (3-2)
197: #4 Jacob Warner (8-2) vs #2 Christian Brunner (20-2)
285: #4 Tony Cassioppi (9-0) vs Thomas Penola (14-8) // David Eli (5-7)