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Iowa Wrestling: No. 2 Iowa vs No. 6 Ohio State - Preview, HTW Guide & Match Thread

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The level of competition steps up starting this weekend.

Syndication: HawkCentral Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen, Iowa City Press-Citizen via Imagn Content Services, LLC

We’ve now arrived at the point in Iowa’s wrestling season where nearly every bout takes on heightened significance and excitement. Ohio State is the first conference opponent Iowa has faced who boasts ranked wrestlers at most weight classes. They aren’t on the same level with Iowa when our best lineup is in action but whether Iowa can, or will, put out its best lineup has become the biggest running storyline for the Hawkeyes the past few weeks.

It will remain the dominant storyline until we see the reappearances of Austin DeSanto at 133 and Jaydin Eierman at 141. The presumption with Eierman is that he’s recovering from a finger injury that occurred a couple of weeks ago. This doesn’t look to be a big deal. DeSanto on the other hand? Your guess is as good as mine.

Brands had this to say Wednesday:

“Our number one guy is Austin DeSanto”. As to whether he would start against Ohio State? “We haven’t decided because funny things happen in life. I can’t guarantee it. How’s that for a teaser? I would say this, I would say that we’re going to put our best lineup on the mat.”

He defined the word sibylline quite well but any revelations in Brands’ answer are beyond my ability to discern. There are reasons to be hopeful that both Eierman and DeSanto will return soon however. They have appeared healthy while seated on the bench in Iowa’s recent duals and they are listed as possible starters for this dual vs Ohio State.

As for Ohio State, it’s not their wrestlers who have been banged up, but their pride. Before last weekend they were humming along at 5-0. Then they lost 29-8 at home...to Michigan. Ouch. Competitors that they are, Iowa is no doubt looking at that 29 point figure as the bar to clear in this dual. Let’s have a look at the lineups to determine how probable it is that Iowa does so.

PROBABLE LINEUPS:

125lbs: #8 Drake Ayala vs #15 Malik Heinselman

133: Cullan Schriever or #3 Austin DeSanto vs Will Betancourt or Dylan Koontz

141: Drew Bennett or #2 Jaydin Eierman vs #23 Dylan D’Emilio

149: #10 Max Murin vs #2 Sammy Sasso

157: #11 Kaleb Young vs Jashon Hubbard or Bryce Hepner

165: #4 Alex Marinelli vs #5 Carson Kharchla

174: #2 Michael Kemerer vs #7 Ethan Smith

184: #18 Abe Assad vs #6 Kaleb Romero

197: #3 Jacob Warner vs #20 Gavin Hoffman

285: #5 Anthony Cassioppi vs #13 Tate Orndorff

*Rankings vs Flowrestling

125lbs: #8 Drake Ayala vs #15 Malik Heinselman

Ayala has done everything that could be asked from a true freshman and he’s getting visibly better with every match. His offense has always been impressive. Then his ability to ride really took a jump after his second bout with McKee. Defense to hold off a late charge was on display last weekend vs DeAugustino. Heinselman seems to find himself in a lot of scrambles. I think Ayala will handle a heavy dose of mat wrestling and come out on top once again. 3-0 Iowa

133: Cullan Schriever or #3 Austin DeSanto vs Will Betancourt or Dylan Koontz

My gut tells me Schriever starts here again. He is yet to collect a win as a starter but his competition has been intense to this point. That is not the case in this dual where neither option for Ohio State has a DI win on the year. Schriever grabs a decision here. 6-0 Iowa

141: Drew Bennett or #2 Jaydin Eierman vs #23 Dylan D’Emilio

Assuming this dual starts at 125 and Iowa is up 6-0 or better, Bennett probably gets the nod to give Eierman another week off. D’Emilio held his own vs Stevan Micic last week and will prove to be a bit too much for Bennett who still keeps it to a decision. 6-3 Iowa

149: #10 Max Murin vs #2 Sammy Sasso

This is the bout of the meet for me and Murin’s first best chance this year to prove he belongs on the All-American podium. Sasso is an excellent counter wrestler and scrambler which I suppose explains why refs absolutely refuse to call takedowns against him until he’s flat on his belly. Murin can’t leave any doubt or wait until the last five seconds of the match to shoot against Sasso, albeit this strategy has won him a couple matches this year. He also can’t get overly aggressive. In their previous matchup, Murin was too active and played into Sasso’s strengths, eventually getting pinned. Despite all the man crushing commentators do over Sasso and his supposed offensive mindset, his offense is only mediocre. I’d love for Murin to ignore the rankings and not chase the match with an underdog mindset, therefore depriving Sasso of his countering abilities, and force Sasso to win off his own shot(s). Even then, Sasso’s riding ability likely carries him to a decision. 6-6 tie

157: #11 Kaleb Young vs Jashon Hubbard or Bryce Hepner

This looks set up to be a comfortable but closer than it should be decision for Young. However, Young earned a TF vs his opponent from Illinois last weekend. Another bonus point victory here would make his recent results look more like a positive trend than blips on the radar. Young by MD. 10-6 Iowa

165: #4 Alex Marinelli vs #5 Carson Kharchla

Marinelli will need to snap out of the funk he’s been in this year to stay undefeated after meeting Kharchla. The only loss Kharchla has on the year is to defending NCAA champ, Shane Griffith, the same guy who knocked Marinelli out of last year’s tournament (via injury default on The Bull’s part). Marinelli is strong enough and savvy enough to pull out an ugly win here. 13-6 Iowa

174: #2 Michael Kemerer vs #7 Ethan Smith

In Kemerer’s limited action this year, he’s been able to ride, turn, and pin his overmatched opponents. What he hasn’t done is show the same level of offensive energy he had before his shoulder injury. Perhaps that’s a coincidence and doubts about lingering issues will be dispelled in this match or maybe it’s just a shift of emphasis on his part and has nothing to do with the shoulder brace he still wears. Kemerer wins this one regardless but it’ll be in decision territory. 16-6 Iowa

184: #18 Abe Assad vs #6 Kaleb Romero

Assad has shown a wide variety of offensive abilities this year and seems to keep getting better. Romero is a stout opponent and something tells me Assad will be down in the 3rd needing a big move to come out of this one victorious. He’ll do just that. 19-6 Iowa

197: #3 Jacob Warner vs #20 Gavin Hoffman

Not much to say here. Has all the makings of the typical Warner match. 1st period TD and ride out. Escape point for him and rideout in alternating periods for a 4-0 type win. Maybe he gets bored and goes catch and release to add one or two more TDs. Still a decision. 22-6 Iowa

285: #5 Anthony Cassioppi vs #13 Tate Orndorff

Tony Pins has faced Orndorff three times. Those matches have gone: pin, pin, 11-0 MD. Cassioppi is hitting his stride and probably still pissed about getting choked by his jNW opponent last weekend. He closes this one out with a fall. 28-6 Iowa

Broadcast Info

Opponent: #6 Ohio State

Dual time: 7PM God’s Time (Central) // Friday January 21st, 2022

TV: BTN

Location: Covelli Center // Columbus, Ohio

Feel free to post live updates in the comments as the action unfolds. I won't be able to provide the play-by-play as usual for this dual.