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No. 1 Iowa wrestling joyrides No. 12 Oklahoma State Cowboys, 34-6: Full recap

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An undefeated 13-0 regular season is topped off with two NCAA attendance records.

Senior Pat Lugo raises his hand following a pin over Oklahoma State’s Boo Lewallen.
Brian Ray // Hawkeyesports.com

In a season full of dominating team wins, this one tops them all. This didn’t offer up the intensity of the Penn State dual, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. Okie State may be in a down year, but they’re still a very talented bunch and more importantly, they’re still a bitter and hated rival.

What we did to them on Senior Night was downright mean and I loved every moment it.

IOWA 34, OKLAHOMA STATE 6

125: #1 Spencer Lee major dec. over #4 Nick Piccininni, 12-3. Iowa 4-0

133: #2 Austin DeSanto pins #18 Reece Witcraft, 2:39. Iowa 10-0

141: #3 Max Murin major dec. #20 Dusty Hone, 15-4. Iowa 14-0

149: #2 Pat Lugo pins #6 Boo Lewallen, 2:22. Iowa 20-0

157: #18 Wyatt Sheets dec. over #4 Kaleb Young, 9-4. Iowa 20-3

165: #2 Alex Marinelli dec. over #7 Travis Wittlake, 3-2. Iowa 23-3

174: #1 Michael Kemerer major dec. over #12 Joe Smith, 12-2. Iowa 27-3

184: #15 Anthony Montalvo dec. over Nelson Brands, 2-7. Iowa 27-6

197: #4 Jacob Warner dec. over #16 Dakota Geer, 8-3. Iowa 30-6

285: #3 Tony Cassioppi major dec. over Austin Harris, 11-1. Iowa 34-6

Our Iowa Hawkeyes capped off a perfect regular season at 13-0 (9-0) for our first undefeated season, without a tie, since 2009-2010. Coincidentally, that was the last time we brought home an NCAA team title as well. This also marks the first time The Cowboys have given up 30+ points since the Hawks drubbed them, 30-7, back in 2015.

This is rare air for both teams, which makes this win sweeter. While the Cowboys still have the firepower to contend for a team medal in March, this undoubtedly proves that our Hawks have the team depth to finish on top.

We took 8 of 10 matches with six of them coming by bonus points: two pins and four major decisions. This was the most bonus point victories we’ve had all season, which is a statement in and of itself.

We won the takedown battle 22-6 and outscored our southern counterparts, 87-33. We raced out to a 20-0 lead after four matches thanks to Spencer Lee, Austin DeSanto, Max Murin, and Pat Lugo all coming away with those precious bonus wins.

Max Murin had a dual high 15 match points and also lead the way with five takedowns. We had five wrestlers all reach double digit points and all five of them bonused their victim. I keep bringing up these bonus point wins because they’re incredibly important to our post season success at the Big Ten Championships and the NCAA’s. This cannot be understated, and Tom Brands has been pushing this initiative all season and it’s starting to pay off when it matters most. In order to win a championship in all sports, it’s about peaking at the right time and it appears that our Hawks are nearing that moment. These guys are a-rollin’ at the right time!

13,109 wrestling fans (40th largest in wrestling history) piled into Carver-Hawkeye Arena to witness this win. With our amazing fanbase we set TWO NCAA attendance records during this fun Sunday night ass-kicking.

  1. We set a single season attendance record with a total of 87,979 for the year.
  2. We also set an average attendance record with 12,568 per dual over seven home duals.

”Great schedule. They showed, they showed up from the get-go. I think there was 10,000-plus for Chattanooga and we got to continue that next year. We got to get ready to give our fans something to be excited about going into this postseason and put some exclamation marks on these next two tournaments. Go Hawks.”

-Tom Brands

For the full post-presser please check it out here.

MATCH NOTES:

125: It’s hard to believe, but Spencer Lee keeps getting better and better. Nick Piccininni came into this dual with a chip on his shoulder and was looking to wreck Lee’s season. Picc has done it before, but Lee had other plans. Picc is a big 125lber. He’s strong, he’s fast, and he’s decisive. Like Lee, he’s a bonus point machine and has been ripping through the field this year. But not this time.

Majoring a 2x All-American is impressive, but what tops that is majoring a 2x AA that doesn’t want to be majored. Picc did everything in his power to stop Lee from getting to his arm-bar series but failed. The only downside to this match was Lee giving up a takedown late in the 3rd period. You could tell Spencer was disappointed in himself for not closing it out like he wanted. This is going to add fuel to his fire… he’ll remember that TD moving forward.

“I wasn’t really hurtin’ or tired or anything, I just stopped wrestling a little bit at the end and I don’t know what I was thinking. Got to keep scoring points. I got bigger goals than just this match.”

-Spencer Lee

133: Austin DeSanto’s recovery is truly a Hawkeye miracle. There’s no doubt in my mind that he was injured. There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s still feeling a lingering discomfort. But now there’s no doubt in everyone’s mind that he’s learning how to wrestle with it and he looks just as good, if not better, than he did before. This was Austin’s 11th bonus point win on the year. And this wasn’t just catching the talented Reece Witcraft for a pin, this was a cold and calculated fireman’s carry that planted Witcraft firmly on his back. Against top level opponents, many of these guys can bridge and arch their way to freedom, but Austin stayed with him and made the adjustments to lock up the pinfall. It was an impressive finish to an impressive match.

141: This is back-to-back statement wins for Max Murin. He’s shed his shoulder brace and appears to be healed up. This is easily the best version of Mad Max we have ever seen. He’s quick, he’s strong and he’s keeping good position. And more importantly, he’s finishing his shots. He led the team with 5 TD’s, which I’d have to go back and look, but I believe that’s the first time he’s done that.

Dusty Hone is no slouch either, in fact, that’s the first time he’s been majored in his career.

#1 Nick Lee (PSU) and #2 Luke Pletcher (OSU) are clearly in the top tier of this weight class, but Murin is making a push to lead the best of the rest. If he continues to perform like this, he’s going to make a lot of noise next month. If he continues to be this aggressive and strong, he’s going to find a high podium finish. This is the Max Murin we’ve been waiting for and he’s finally arrived.

149: Lugo finds ways to win. What more can we say about it? He’s so calm, relaxed, and focused. He’s rarely out of position and simply knows how to wrestle in all those positions.

Not only was this Lugo’s last match in front of the Hawkeye faithful, it was his first pin inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. What a special moment for this kid.

This was a tightly contested match before Lugo got to his double-unders and horsed #6 Boo Lewallen to his back. Moving forward, everyone will now have to prepare for this and be ready for this move, which could open up Lugo’s offense and improve on his ability to get to the legs.

If you weren’t a believer in Pat Lugo before this match, you should be now.

157: This is Kaleb Young’s worse loss since he was dominated by now #3 David Carr (ISU) earlier in the year. KY started things off with a smooth shot and trip for a TD early in the first. From there on out, it was all Wyatt Sheets.

Despite a late reversal for KY that made it 4-6 midway through the 3rd period, KY continued to take blind straight-on shots and eventually got taken down again off his own initiative. He’d go on to lose 4-9 and had no answer while on bottom.

Though Young looked flat and lazy out there, we should tip our hats to Sheets for bringing it. This was a toss-up match going in and one that we knew Young had to raise his energy level for and wrestle smart. He did neither. As “FlyHawk” pointed out, KY leans heavily on his counter-wrestling and it backfired on him tonight.

Although, he also stumbled this time last year before turning it on at the B1G’s and NCAA’s, so we’re hoping he can do it again, because based off of that match, he’s not where he needs to be.

“Kaleb Young is a guy who needs to manage his matches and he didn’t do a good job at managing that match… He doesn’t need to wrestle like Spencer or Kemerer. He needs to wrestle like Kaleb Young.”

-Tom Brands

165: This was a tough and gritty match for Alex Marinelli. The young upstart freshman, Travis Wittlake, brought the energy and it took everything The Bull had to find a late TD to win.

However, this was an uncharacteristic match for Bull as he did very little offensively. He struggled to set up his shots and struggled to stay in his clubs and collar-ties. Wittlake would disengage and force Marinelli to reset, he’d also take just enough low ankle attempts to keep Marinelli off balance and uncomfortable.

However, this is a good learning lesson for our guy. He’s going to face more and more wrestlers like this in the post season and simply finding ways to win is imperative. While it was a disappointing match to watch, it was a satisfying win against another opponent that will easily be in the podium hunt.

174: The entire NCAA field has been ranting and raving about Spencer Lee all year (as they should) but now it’s time to firmly insert Michael Kemerer’s name into the Hodge Trophy race. Though Joe Smith is a little undersized up at this weight class, what Kemdawg did to the 2x AA was nothing short of spectacular. Smith is a hard-nosed scrapper and a legit podium guy, but Kemerer broke him… and it was amazing.

Takedown after takedown, followed by hard gritty rides is going to push Kemerer deep into the post season. He’s now showing that he can get takedowns seemingly at will and ride guys at this weight. His confidence is growing by leaps and bounds.

He didn’t look for too many pinning moves or near fall opportunities here, instead he seemed content to simply punish the Cowboy and send a message. Well, message received.

184: Abe Assad did not go again and neither did Cash Wilcke on senior night. Instead, Nelson Brands took to the mat and it wasn’t a pretty sight. Brands was the aggressor for 7 minutes, but he simply couldn’t finish any of his shots against the much bigger and stronger Anthony Montalvo.

Without Assad or Wilcke going, there isn’t much to say other than Brands is clearly undersized. Earlier in the year Nelson was able to hang tough with his superior conditioning, but late in the season that’s usually going to balance out and it did here.

We haven’t heard details on Assad’s injury and Brands Brands stated last week that he would go in this dual. Perhaps with the team win locked up Tom and Terry decided to give Nelson a go, but I have to ask why? As frustrating as Wilcke is to watch, it was senior night and he’s a much better match-up with Montalvo.

197: Like Murin, Warner is wrestling his best. Though Dakota Geer is a small 197lber, he’s still a returning All-American at 184lbs. This is a statement win for Warner as he appears to be rounding into form. His conditioning is improving and he’s wrestling much better late in matches, which was his nagging downside a mere month ago.

He’s showing decisiveness on his shots and he’s flashing a quickness we haven’t seen before. If he continues to wrestle this new-found style, there isn’t anyone in this field that he cannot beat.

285: Big Cass was coming off back-to-back loses against the top two heavyweights in the country, he needed a win here to get back on track and he got it. He would’ve liked to end the regular season with a pin, but an 11-1 major decision is still a great way to check out. Harris was doing all he could to avoid giving up his wrists and despite not being stalled out of the match, he was able to stay off his back, though Big Cass was close to turning him a couple times.

In these moments, I wish Cass would switch over and look for a new pinning combo, possibly start working on a turk or a power half. We’ve seen it before, but here he looked focus one thing.

Either way, it’s a step back in the right direction as we head into the post season.

This dual marks the final time we’ll see 11 of our seniors inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Only one of them is a starter: Pat Lugo.

Many of those seniors have spent a majority of their tenure in Iowa City knowing they would never crack the starting lineup, but yet they stayed and contributed. These seniors are an underrated aspect of our program and without them on this roster, we wouldn’t be where we are today.

We have our individual NCAA champions and our team titles. But right here, this is what it’s all about. Four of them will be traveling with the team to the B1G’s and NCAA’s as warm up partners. They’re more important now than they ever have been.

“You can’t say enough about them. We’re going to need those guys down the stretch, that’s what I told most of them when they walked out there.”

-Tom Brands


The Big Ten Tournaments kicks off Saturday, March 7.