“Yeah, I’m enjoying wrestling and I’m looking forward to keep on enjoying wrestling this year.”
-Nelson “The Hulk” Brands
I think he enjoys wrestling. I think we all enjoy wrestling.
Our Iowa Hawkeyes ripped through Nebraska Friday night, 31-6, leaving behind a mangled mess of bloody limbs and broken dreams. The Cornhuskers braved the winter storm, ice covered roads, and near white-out conditions to test their mettle against the #1 team in the country. Unfortunately for them, they were sent back across the border in body bags.
The Huskers are always down for a chippy dual, especially against us. Last year they put up a spirited fight, keeping all matches close, as they only gave up one bonus point loss. This year, they looked to improve on their competitive drive by winning a couple toss up matches to try and steal the dual in Carver-Hawkeye… but their luck ran out, early.
Nebraska’s head coach, Mark Manning, knew they were up against it and they let themselves be heard. Which, in turn, riled up the Iowa faithful mat-side. With no fans in the stands, nearly every word was heard, and things got fiery, quick.
“It got chippy right away. I mean right away, here we go again. Well, we’re not going to stand for that so we’re going to stand up and we’re going to bark and it was fun. It was fun. Those competitive juices are really flowing.”
This is the rhetoric we expect midway through the meat-grinder, but not at the beginning of the season. Goes to show, that during the shortened year, that everything is on the line during this six-week sprint to the finish. With little to no turn around, the competitive juices must remain high and this was a fantastic dual win that will propel us onward and upward.
We won 8 of 10 matches, including four by bonus, which is three more than last year’s meeting. We hit the ground running thanks to Spencer Lee’s first period ass kicking, per usual. Austin DeSanto followed that up with a 2nd period tech fall. Newcomer Jaydin Eierman knocked off a returning All-American and Max Murin settled into his new weight with a controlled win of his own.
Kaleb Young looked like the Kaleb Young of old by securing a win via major decision that gave us a 21-0 lead, which nearly locked up the dual by intermission.
Things slowed down a bit on the backside because we ran into Nebby’s heavy-hitters, but we still took 3 of 5 matches, including a huge performance and an upset major decision by Nelson Brands over #6 Taylor Venz at 184lbs.
“Domination is bonus points. You know, we see how guys wrestled to get bonus points, there was a lot of different ways they got them. Spencer Lee and Nelson Brands, those are two completely different ways to get bonus points.”
I talked extensively about improvement in the preview. So, what’s the easiest barometer for that? Bonus points and that’s what we got. As mentioned, we took four wins via bonus: one pin, one tech, and two major decisions. Two of those came against ranked opponents: 125lbs and 184lbs. While there’s still room for growth, this was an excellent result to kick off the season.
And while Michael Kemerer didn’t wrestle today, I want to put this issue to bed, because there is no issue. There is no quarterback controversy going on. This is Kemerer’s spot, no if and or buts about it.
“He’s watching and he’s chomping at the bit and we had many, many discussions about him wanting to go. And if it would’ve been his call, he would’ve went. It was my call and the medical team’s call and that’s just wise. A little bit of wisdom there overrode his enthusiasm there. He’ll be in the lineup Friday night in Minnesota.”
IOWA 31, NEBRASKA 6
125: #1 Spencer Lee pins #19 Liam Cronin, 1:21. Iowa 6-0
133: #2 Austin DeSanto tech. fall over Alex Thomsen, 21-6 (3:54). Iowa 11-0
141: #3 Jaydin Eierman dec. over #5 Chad Red, 8-4. Iowa 14-0
149: #6 Max Murin dec. over Brock Hardy, 6-2. Iowa 17-0
157: #12 Kaleb Young major dec. over Caleb Licking, 17-5. Iowa 21-0
165: #1 Alex Marinelli dec. over #19 Peyton Robb, 9-3. Iowa 24-0
174: #4 Mikey Labriola dec. over Patrick Kennedy, 7-4. Iowa 24-3
184: #17 Nelson Brands major dec. over #6 Taylor Venz, 13-5. Iowa 28-3
197: #7 Eric Schultz dec. over #5 Jacob Warner, 3-2. Iowa 28-6
285: #4 Tony Cassioppi dec. over #21 Christian Lance, 4-0. Iowa 31-6
If you’d like to re-watch the dual in its entirety then look no further.
And here’s Tom Brands’ post-dual interview for your viewing pleasure:
125lbs: What more is there to say about Spencer Lee? If you tune in late, it’s a guarantee that you’ll miss his match, because this thing was put on ice 1:21 into the 1st period.
Lee came out firing, securing his first and only TD within 10 seconds. Usually, we see him work the arm bar and go for tilts, but not this time, which is exactly what I wanted to see. He got his patent-pending arm bar, but instead of rolling through, he hopped over Cronin working for a front headlock. Cronin fought off the near fall, but Lee immediately went back into the arm bar series, but this time walked around over the head and settled in for the pin. Cronin was done like dinner.
#2 Rayvon Foley (MSU) was upset this weekend by unranked Patrick McKee (Minn) who lost 8-1 to Cronin in their season opener. There’s a very real possibility that Lee bonuses his way through to the NCAA’s.
Iowa 6, Nebraska 0
133lbs: DeSanto was on a rampage, racking up three TD’s in the first period, including 1:42 of RT. That left him with 1:18 to obtain those TD’s… against a guy that was in defense mode. Impressively, he didn’t rely solely on his usual dump. His second TD was a far side single that initiated a bit of a scramble where he was able to scoot around for two.
He kept his engine redlining into 2nd period where he capitalized on a low ankle pick into a chicken wing. Upon the tilt he threw in a leg and collected a 4-point near fall to push it into tech territory.
He collected EIGHT takedowns in the match, with most of them coming from high-crotches, low picks or go-behinds. This is the type of offensive versality he needs to contend for a title in March.
Furthermore, his willingness to open up and look for new offense is a welcome sight. Also, him throwing in the legs and looking for near fall points via tilt could be a developing move we see again.
Iowa 11, Nebraska 0
141: Eierman finally made his highly anticipated debut against one of the best 141lbers in the country and he showed why the Hawkeye faithful are pumped to have him.
Nebraska’s Chad Red is arguably the most athletic guy at this class and proved that when he caught Eierman flat-footed early in the first and blew through for a double to go up 2-0.
Eierman tied it 2-2 following an escape to start the 2nd and went to work from there.
Eierman is funky, fun, and a prolific pinner. He often times will bait his opponent into an ill-conceived attempt then immediately take them into deep water. He did just that when Red got extended following a shot. Eierman stretched him out, hooked a leg, then locked up a cradle for a 2pt near-fall that pushed him into the lead for good.
Had Eierman settled in and not rushed the move it’s likely he comes away with a pin. He probably elevated too soon, which gave Red the opportunity to set up his defense and kick out. This is something Brands brought up in the post-meet interview and he’ll learn from it.
With Red behind in the 3rd he attempted another shot, but Jaydin stretched him out again and started looking for another cradle. They continued to scramble with Jaydin on top, but Red had his leg locked up. One more cradle attempt later and Red finally bailed out of the scramble and it gave Eierman his final TD to lock up the win.
This is what makes Eierman so dangerous, his ability to score and collect near-fall points while playing defense. You can bet Red remembers this and is hesitant to initiate the scramble next time.
Iowa 14, Nebraska 0
149: This was a workmanlike win for Mad Max up at his new weight. While he still looks to be on the smaller side of 149lbs, he handled himself well against Brock Hardy (who is ranked #16 in other polls). He was in solid position, controlled the mat, and applied heavy hands that kept Hardy in check. While he may never be as explosive as the three guys below him, he’s technically sound and has a great motor and that’s what will push him up the podium. us.
Hardy tried a slide by, but Murin was ready with the counter-attack as he snagged a right-side single and the opening TD. Max is methodical like that. He’ll initiate the contact, but he’ll more often than not wait for an opening instead of rushing in.
We were knotted up 2-2 going into the 3rd and after an early escape by Murin, he stayed patient, but focused, which is a relief to see. Hardy tried a head-snap, but Murin used the leverage into a brief body wrap, Hardy tried to bail out, but Murin corralled a leg for the final TD that also resulted in a riding time point as time expired for a 6-2 win.
While Max didn’t get a TD off his own shot, it was nice to see him stay focused and not turtle up. It’s performances like this that are going to be huge later in the season.
Iowa 17, Nebraska 0
157: This was the Kaleb Young we’ve been hoping would return. He is deceptively quick, strong, and opportunistic and that was on full display in this match. He even channeled his inner Eierman and attempted a cradle of his own, that resulted in his 2nd TD and a 4-2 lead in the 1st period. Like his smaller counterpart, if he settled in and didn’t rush, he could’ve (potentially) ended the match early.
Then he exploded the scoreboard with reversal to start the 2nd.
This is the opportunistic Young I’ve talked about. Licking attempted to lace in a leg, but KY was ready and controlled the heel. He elevated the leg just enough to create space while he hipped over and caught Licking in a vulnerable position.
KY would lock up anothercradle midway through the 2nd, but like before, he didn’t secure it tightly and only came away with a takedown.
This is was a great win for KY and one that should give him confidence moving forward. When he is clicking there are very few guys with better mat awareness or body positioning. If this is a precursor of things to come, he’s going to be a force in March.
Iowa 21, Nebraska 0
165: While this wasn’t the all-around bruising performance we were expecting from Marinelli, it was still a dominating win, nonetheless. Robb nearly collected the opening TD and, in all honesty, it sure looked like one to me. Regardless, Marinelli kept it scoreless until he hit this slick single to go up 2-0.
Robb would hit a standing granby roll on a reset and escaped in the waning seconds of the first period to cut into the lead, 2-1.
The Bull scored again midway through the 2nd period. He popped the elbow with a blast double attempt, but Robb slightly evaded. Thankfully, Bull kept the ankle and brought it up and tripped him for the 2nd TD.
Robb would go on to hit another standing granby, from the other side, on a return attempt from Marinelli to bring the score back to 6-3.
Marinelli kept the pressure on and scored his 3rd and final TD late in the 3rd. Robb would attempt yet another granby, but Bull was ready this time. He snuffed it out and locked up the match as time expired.
Iowa 24, Nebraska 0
174: For undisclosed medical reasons, #1 Michael Kemerer sat out this dual. So, our highly recruited true freshman, Patrick Kennedy, bumped up a weight and received the spot start. This was an up-hill battle for Kennedy, but he presented himself well and showed flashes of potential against the #4 ranked guy in the country, Mikey Labriola. While Kennedy would go on to lose, 7-4, it was a stellar showing.
Kennedy was in the match, down 5-3, inside 1:20 to go in the 3rd. PK looked for a right-sided ankle pick, but didn’t clear his own ankle. Labriola draped over to initiate a scramble and come out on top, for the 2nd time in as many attempts.
PK’s mistake there was not clearing that leg while transitioning through. These are teachable moments that will be learned.
Some Hawk fans may be disappointed that he didn’t finish his shots, but let me remind you, this was a true freshman going against a returning All-American and a legit finals contender. Assuming he redshirts next year, Kennedy is going to be an immediate All-American contender when he takes over full time in two years. The force with strong in this one.
Iowa 24, Nebraska 3
184: Nelson Brands delivered the match of the night! This was a one-sided beat down that resulted in five takedowns for the undersized Hawkeye. He got things going with this beaut.
His first three TD’s were all go-behinds, initiated off Venz’s own offense. It was still a tightly contested match with Brands leading 6-3 going into 3rd. At the whistle Venz threw in a leg and tried to eat up some riding time, but Brands was ready and he immediately hit a switch and hipped over for the reversal that effectively put this out of reach.
Following that reversal, Brands was like a shark circling with blood in the water. With :35 left he went for the kill and snagged two more takedowns
This was a statement win. He also had big win last year against Sam Colbray (ISU), but then dropped 3 of his next 5 matches that resulted in Abe Assad’s promotion. Now, he needs to keep the momentum. He has two more tune-ups before he faces #1 Myles Amine (Mich) on Jan. 31.
Iowa 28, Nebraska 3
197: Following Brands’ dramatic and dominating upset, I thought Jacob would come out blitzing. Alas, that didn’t happen. This was a long, drawn out, boring ass match and as the seconds clicked away we all feared the inevitable.
Warner looked as if he was going to take control in the 2nd with a hard ride and a body-shaking mat return.
But the excitement was short lived. Schultz got the escape within 30 seconds to take a 1-0 lead. Lots of hand-fighting and pattycake ensued for the remainder of the 2nd. Warner escaped early in the 3rd to knot it up, 1-1. With :59 to go Schultz attempted a single, but Warner, with heavy hips, was able to thwart the shot and looked to be in good position to scoot around for a TD of his own. He had Schultz spread out and was close to a go-behind, but lazily slipped off the top. He was able to snag Schultz’s left leg and tried to hold on for a stalemate, but Schultz broke the grip and snagged the TD and a 3-1 lead.
Warner would get another escape and with :09 to go he finally fired off his first shot of the match. Which, of course was stuffed and so was any chance of winning.
This was a match Jacob could’ve won, instead it resulted in a maddening loss. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but Jacob is a mystery. A complete enigma. He is a paradox of talent and I’m afraid this is what we’ll continue to get.
I’m done with this analysis. Moving on.
Iowa 28, Nebraska 6
285: While this wasn’t the high-scoring Cassioppi we were hoping to see, it was still a solid outing for our big man.
Big Cass hit a snap single midway through the first, which ended up being his only TD of the match.
Cass would get an escape of his own and amassed 2:59 in RT to put the match away, 4-0.
Cass beat Lance, 6-1, in last year’s dual and that’s where the disappointment lies. We were wanting to see a scoring explosion that would push this match into bonus territory. After all, #1 Gable Steveson teched Lance just last week.
That didn’t happen and Big Cass seemed to coast his way through the 2nd and 3rd periods, content to idle it home.
While I was hoping to see him pour it on and even look for the fall, I want everyone to know that these big boys have squared off two or three times in freestyle as well. All of them have been close matches, narrowly won by Cassioppi. By now, they are very familiar with each other.
However, at this point in time, Lance is still in the bottom half of the Big Ten and Cass needs to preform much better if he expects to punch his way into the finals at either the Big Tens or Nationals.
Stats of the Dual:
- We won 8 of 10 matches
- 4 wins by bonus points: 1 pin, 1 tech, 2 majors
- Outscored Nebraska 89-35
- We also won the takedown battle: 28-5 (Though my official scoring said 26 TD’s. We’ll go with what the university released though)
- Per Cody Goodwin, only 246 people were in attendance. Makes me sick to my stomach.
133lbs: Tucker Sjomeling (Neb) dec. over Cullan Schriever (IA), 6-2
141lbs: Ridge Lovett (Neb) dec. over Carter Happel (IA), 4-2
149lbs: Jevon Parrish (Neb) dec. over Zach Axmear (IA), 5-3
184lbs: Myles Wilson (IA) major dec. over Nathan Haas (Neb), 15-6
197lbs: Silas Allred (Neb) major dec. over Connor Corbin (IA), 11-2
285lbs: Cale Davidson (Neb) dec. over Aaron Costello (IA), 3-2
I know very little about these extra matches because they weren’t broadcast. However, It looks like Myles Wilson had an excellent showing against Nathan Haas, a top 30 recruit from the class of 2020.
On the flip side, our own big 2020 recruit, Cullan Schriever, was shut down by Tucker Sjomeling, 6-2. Hopefully some more details come out soon about these matches. Perhaps Iowa will decide to broadcast these going forward? Please?
Up next we’re on the road against #10 Minnesota on Friday, Jan. 22 at 8PM CT.
Live on BTN.