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No. 1 Iowa wrestling rips No. 11 Minnesota, 35-4: Carnage Recap

Mean Little Bastards

“[Spencer Lee] is a mean little bastard on the mat. He’s a nice kid, but he’s a mean little bastard on the mat and I love it.”

-Tom Brands

Our Hawkeyes accepted a late night challenge from our northern rivals and ventured beyond the border to face off against the Golden Gophers of Minnesota. The once proud rodent-people knew they faced an uphill battle, but they still dreamed of stealing a few wins. Perhaps the only victories they found, however, were of the moral variety. Alas, the bitter taste of an ass-whoppin will resonate for at least one more year as our Hawkeyes spit roasted them to the score of 35-4.

We took 9 of 10 matches and all but locked up the win by intermission, leading 21-0. In fact, we hadn’t surrendered a takedown at the midway point, a stretch that would continue for seven total matches, ending at 184lbs. But then again, starting off any dual with three straight bonus point wins –pin, tech, major decision—is going to rock any program and put them on their heels and that’s exactly what happened Friday night.

The team win pushes us to 2-0 and expands our winning streak to 15 consecutive dating back to last season.

We outscored Minnesota 115-45, thanks to five bonus point efforts: 1 pin, 1 tech, and 3 majors. 28 of their 45 points were from escapes, with most coming from intentional releases. We also won the takedown battle, 34-7, and had three separate matches with near fall points: 125lbs, 133lbs, and 157lbs.

“Good lopsided win. A lot of good things, a lot of hustle. But there’s also some things where we can score more points and be more efficient as well.”

-Tom Brands

As always, coach nailed the post-dual assessment. While we lit up the scoreboard there was missed opportunities to widen the gap, specifically at 165lbs and 184lbs. Though it pains me to say, the Gophers deserve a small amount of credit here. They rolled out a lineup that consisted of seven underclassmen, including two true freshmen at the two weights mentioned. I’ll dive into these two more in the match notes, but Minnesota’s Andrew Sparks and Isaiah Salazar impressed the hell out of me.

Full Brands interview:


125: #1 Spencer Lee pins #17 Patrick McKee, 1:53. Iowa 6-0

133: #2 Austin DeSanto tech. fall over #23 Boo Dryden, 21-2. Iowa 11-0

141: #3 Jaydin Eierman major dec. over Marco Polanco, 22-9. Iowa 15-0

149: #5 Max Murin dec. over #17 Michael Blockhus, 5-1. Iowa 18-0

157: #8 Kaleb Young dec. over #6 Brayton Lee, 4-3 TB1. Iowa 21-0

165: #1 Alex Marinelli dec. over #14 Andrew Sparks, 8-4. Iowa 24-0

174: #1 Michael Kemerer major dec. over Jake Allar, 12-4. Iowa 28-0

184: #8 Nelson Brands dec. over Isaiah Salazar, 10-6. Iowa 31-0

197: #6 Jacob Warner major dec. over Garrett Joles, 13-2. Iowa 35-0

285: #1 Gable Steveson major dec. over #4 Tony Cassioppi, 15-6. Iowa 35-4


125lbs: This match is indicative as to why Spencer Lee is the most exciting wrestler in the country. It only took him 1:55 to collect his 24th pin of his career. Lee built a 14-0 lead in the waning seconds of the 1st period, but this result what separates him from last year’s version of himself. Instead tilting to end the match by tech, he goes for the pin. This is textbook, folks. He laced up his normal chicken wing/ arm bar series, but fished in a ½ nelson and cranked McKee over. Done like dinner.

133lbs: If my shotty math is correct, this was DeSanto’s 19th tech fall of his career and the 21st time he’s scored 20+ points in a match. Like Lee, we’re seeing new themes from Austin this year. Dryden is a difficult matchup, because he stands at 6ft, but that didn’t stop ADS from collecting four takedowns against the uber-lanky opponent. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see Austin commit to the rides and look for near fall points off his dump. He scored 10 such points off four separate tilts to blow the bout apart and end it midway through the third. It’s encouraging to see Austin expand his arsenal and look for new ways to score outside of the typical cut and release scenarios. He’s always been opportunistic when it comes to his go-to dump, but he did a great job settling in instead of rushing through the move.

141lbs: Eierman was an apex predator playing with his food. He was in complete control from start to finish, but it was also a match, that if he was determined to secure the tech fall, he could have. There were a few instances where Jaydin baited Polanco into his legs, looking for the cradle, but never found it. Then again, Eierman had nine takedowns and 22 points, which are both team highs for the season.

–Two of which came from this creativity—

149lbs: Max Murin is a hardnosed grinder and that’s all there is. The first period was active, despite being scoreless late. Each guy had a few attempts, but they continued to hold solid position, but Max secured a TD with :03 left on the clock. These late TD’s are killer and it’s great to see Max on the aggressive side, instead of the receiving end, which was the case in past years.

Midway through the 3rd Max hit a stellar counterattack and redirect to go up 5-1. He initiated a hard ride for the remainder :59 seconds to put the match on ice. Those are the type of rides he needs to find in March.

157lbs: This was the match of the night and it did not disappoint. Though it was low scoring, it was nine minutes of pulse pounding excitement. This is the type of match you see in late in the B1G’s or NCAA’s.

Lee likes to attack from space, but KY did an excellent job at closing the gap and keeping him contained with collar ties

Things looked dicey late in the first after referee Angel Rivera (known Hawkeye hater) dinged KY for an illegal head scissor. By definition it was illegal, but it was a ticky-tack call that you see slide in most matches. Nevertheless, KY found himself down a point as time expired in the first, which is not where you want to be against an All-American.

KY would find the only TD of the match :30 into the 3rd to a take a 3-2 lead, but would cut Lee soon after to knot it back up. The score would remain tied despite a late flurry from Lee and some great D by Young to close out the 3rd.

The action picked back up in SV1, but the score remained tied, so into tie-breakers we went. KY would get the escape to go up 4-3 in the first tie-breaker, but needed to ride him out for the win. And he did.

This was arguably the best ride of KY’s career and it’s a performance he needs to repeat if he expects a deep in March. Lee was the more aggressive wrestler, firing off roughly ten shots to Kaleb’s six, but KY scored the only TD off a counterattack. He wrestled a smart match and stayed calm late in the bout.

165lbs: This isn’t quite the Marinelli that we’re accustomed to seeing, but it was still a workmanlike performance from The Bull. We can view this from two sides: was the Bull struggling or was Andrew Sparks up to the challenge?

The Bull did look a bit sluggish, but Sparks is a gamer. Never mind that the dude has tree trunks for thighs, he’s a physical wrestler that relishes the brawl. Marinelli collected three TD’s and amassed 1:41RT, but two of those came in the first period.

I could feel Marinelli wanting to fire off and explode the scoreboard, but Sparks largely kept Marinelli in check with a hard right collar tie and heavy hips. I never felt the Bull was in real danger of dropping this, but it was a 5-3 going into the 3rd when Marinelli got his final takedown.

Sparks made him work for it. This is the type of early season match that can get him re-focused and dialed in.

174lbs: After sitting out last week, Michael Kemerer made his season debut and looked good doing it. While I was hoping for a pin going into this, a major decision is still a nice way to kick things off.

Kemdog racked up four takedowns against a guy that was 100% committed to not getting lit up, including this blast double early in the 1st.

While Kemerer did well in neutral, he did give up two big mat returns in the 2nd that seemed to momentarily take the wind out of his sails. Though it was nice to see him quickly pop back up to his feet and not bury his head on the mat. Having that type of awareness, especially in his first match of the season, was nice to see.

Following Kem’s last TD, he’d go on to ride out Allar for the final minute of the 3rd.

184lbs: Coming off Brands’ dramatic win last week I worried about a let down performance going into this. After a quick TD to start off the match against Isaiah Salazar (the true freshman was a late addition) those bad feelers started to emerge following Salazar’s TD that gave him the lead.

Salazar made it look easy, then attempted to ride Brands’ out for the remainder of the period, but Nelson fired off the bottom to get the escape as time expired. I mentioned it in the Murin match, but anytime you can steal a point to end a period is a momentum booster. Brands would get some breathing room with two more TD’s in the 2nd, but seemed to coast to the finish in the 3rd. He did snag one more TD in the closing seconds to cap off the night with a hard head-snap and go-behind.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Salazar take over the starting spot from Owen Webster following this performance.

Either way, this was a confidence builder for Nelson and if he avoided that 1st period TD he’d be sniffing at a major.

197lbs: This was a nice rebound win for Warner following last week’s snooze fest against Nebraska, but it didn’t start off that way. Joles was hit with a stall call :54 sec into the match, but Warner was content on slowing the match down instead ramping up the pressure. He eventually fired off a beautiful double leg to close out the 1st.

Warner would go on tear for the remainder of the match, collecting three more TD’s, including this slick ankle pick at the top of the 2nd.

He can win this weight, but he needs to trust in his offense. Good things happen when he's on the move. If he can apply this outlook every match, he can make a deep run in March. But there's that word again. IF.

285lbs: Unfortunately, this was the Gable Steveson Express and we were stuck on the tracks.

Through their first three collegiate encounters the margin of defeat continues to trend in the wrong direction for Big Cass. There’s a reason why Gable is favored to represent the USA in the upcoming Olympics and that was on full display here. He’s simply too athletic and too damn good.

Even though he was majored, Cass didn’t phone it in and continued to fight and look for his attacks. It didn’t result in an offensive point, but it showed gumption. I do believe that Cass could’ve held this to a decision if he had wrestled more defensively oriented, but he can’t win if he can’t score points.

Gable and #2 Mason Parris (Mich) are easily a tier above the rest of this weight, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a good heavyweight, because we do. At this point, Cass isn’t a title threat, but he’s still very much in the hunt for 3rd.

If you still want to watch the mauling, then here you go.

Up next we were supposed to take on Illinois and #2 Michigan in a tri-meet in Iowa City on Sunday, Jan. 31.

The University of Michigan has since suspended all their athletics for at least the next two weeks. As of right now, I’m under the impression that Illinois will still attend, but if something changes I will let you know.

Maybe the Big Ten will actually do something proactive for once and schedule a replacement for us. But I doubt it.


The Iowa vs Illinois dual has replaced the previous matchup with Michigan on BTN.