Following a 22-10 win over Minnesota Friday night, Iowa now faces the Purdue Boilermakers at 2pm, Sunday for their second dual of the weekend inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The lineup we saw against Minnesota will likely be the same one the Brands Bros prefer to put on the mat for the rest of the season. It now features Drake Ayala replacing the rehabbing Spencer Lee at 125, which makes him only the third wrestler under Brands’ leadership who has gone from wrestling in high school one year, to college starter the next. The other men to do so? The aforementioned Lee, and current 184 starter Abe Assad. The lineup also gets a boost with the return of NCAA finalist Michael Kemerer at 174.
And this Iowa squad is very much in need of a boost. Though they easily handled Minnesota in the team score department and should do so against Purdue as well, much larger challenges are looming and many of the individual performances we saw against Minnesota were, below expectations. It seems several guys are letting opponents dictate the pace and style of matches, perhaps even wrestling with a sense of national champion entitlement which their adversaries seem disobliged to respect. Victims of the high standards their previous results have set, Eierman and Marinelli both appear to be stuck in low gear. That is to say nothing of Murin, Young, and Warner who rarely shift above second to begin with and have not done so yet this year.
One bright spot to add to the entries of Ayala and Kemerer who are fully expected to improve upon their debut performances Friday is Abe Assad who dominated his opponent from Minnesota for seven straight minutes en route to a major decision. With the rest of the season ahead of him and the presumption that the 184 spot is all his (no split time with Nelson Brands like last year), look for him to continue with an offensive approach.
Turning to Purdue we see a squad similar in quality to Minnesota as their team rankings would suggest, minus a heavy weight champion of the world, thank the Lord. Purdue brings some guys very much able to challenge Iowa on an individual basis but lacking in the firepower necessary to push for a team victory.
125lbs: Drake Ayala vs #9 Devin Schroder or Nate Cummings
133lbs: #3 Austin DeSanto vs Matt Ramos
141lbs: #2 Jaydin Eierman vs #18 Parker Filius
149lbs: #10 Max Murin vs Trey Kruse
157lbs: #10 Kaleb Young vs #9 Kendall Coleman
165lbs: #4 Alex Marinelli vs Hayden Lehrey
174lbs: #2 Michael Kemerer vs #19 Gerrit Nijenhuis
184lbs: #19 Abe Assad vs #23 Max Lyon or Macartney Parkinson
197lbs: #3 Jacob Warner vs #13 Thomas Penola
285: #5 Tony Cassioppi vs Michael Woulfe
*All rankings via Flowrestling
Iowa is 44-4-3 all time vs Purdue and reiterating from above, Iowa just needs to put in an honest effort to come away with team victory 45. Clear favorites at seven weights by the numbers and very capable of sweeping all ten depending on how much stock is placed in Ayala’s recruiting hype and Young’s 2-0 career record against Coleman, this dual is in Iowa’s control. Do they put on a show as Brands and the grapplers so often express in interviews as their goal, or appear again to be stodgy and content with decisions?
125lbs: Drake Ayala vs #9 Devin Schroder
Both of these wrestlers will no doubt welcome seeing a fresh face across from them. Ayala is 10-3 this year, mostly unattached. Those three losses? All to Pat McKee of Minnesota including Friday’s result which spoiled Ayala’s Carver and official Iowa Hawkeye debut. Schroder meanwhile has been the Big Ten Championship runner-up at 125 the past two years. The man who has stood in his way for those conference titles? Iowa’s Spencer Lee. Defeating Schroder is a tall order but Ayala has shown incredible quickness and decisive, confident offense. Avoiding too much mat wrestling and mental lapses on defense would serve Ayala well.
157lbs: #10 Kaleb Young vs #9 Kendall Coleman
Picking Kaleb Young in consecutive duals as a key matchup may be a bold move, but differs from betting on him to come away victorious. Nevertheless, Iowa needs Young to win bouts like this come tournament time and contribute at least a handful of team points for Iowa. He also desperately needs to get back on track now to maintain his ranking before he slides further down the charts and tourney seeding position. Young is 2-0 vs Coleman, let’s make it 3-0.
184lbs: #19 Abe Assad vs #23 Max Lyon
And can Assad make it two straight statement wins this weekend? The ability is clearly there. It’s been a while since we’ve seen an attempt, but Assad is capable of a wicked hard throw. Why should the only Sunday treat in Carver be soft (serve ice cream)?
Opponent: #15 Purdue
Dual time: 2PM God’s Time (Central) // Sunday January 9th, 2022
Radio: AM 800 KXIC
Location: Carver-Hawkeye Arena // Iowa City, IA