Iowa closes out its Big10 dual schedule vs Nebarska on Sunday at 6pm in Lincoln. Try as they might, or apparently not try in the case of Hoiberg’s recent basketball coaching performances, the Huskers just suck at men’s sports. Period. Growing up in the 90’s within the geographic footprint of Big Red Nation as an Iowa fan was rough. My how the tables, the whole house, and Earth’s magnetic poles have turned and I’m here for it.
The count in Iowa’s football streak over the Bugeaters is firmly onto a second hand at seven. Men’s bball is 11-6 vs Nebarska since Herby joined the conference and on a three game streak. Just getting their win total to six took non repeatable heroics or nearly impossibly bad Iowa shooting performances like 4-33 from three for instance in 2020. Women’s basketball is on a six game winning streak, and gymnastics’ streak is four. Baseball, Nebraska’s most hopeful men’s program in the absence of a Tom Osborne led football team, is 12-15 since joining the conference vs what their fanbase perceives as an inferior Iowa team (we know where that line of thinking has led them in another sport you may have heard of). In the nascent baseball season, Nebarska is 1-2 with all three games coming against Sam Houston State who is *checks last couple years’ records for SHSU because I don’t follow baseball and SHSU sounds like a made up place...not very good. Iowa has started 2-0. A friend of mine who is a Nebraska fan assured me upon joining the Big10 that the Cornhuskers would absolutely dominate track and field. Combining Indoor and Outdoor, they have five titles to Iowa’s four. Good and well but hardly domination. Iowa is the reigning Indoor and Outdoor conference champion. Ignoring volleyball, Iowa inflicts pain upon its westerly neighbor year-round. More pain is coming.
Tom Brands is 12-0 vs Nebarska. There was reason for Mark Manning’s squad to be optimistic for the future last year. Recruiting looked strong and several guys were expected to become All Americans and even push for final’s appearances going into the conference and national tournaments. Those recruits haven’t produced to this point and the team crashed and burned come tournament time. Nationals saw Labriola finish a respectable 3rd at 174 and Chad Red Jr at 141 finished 6th. No other wrestlers even made the podium. Call it regressing to the mean or underperforming but the results were surprising to wrestling fans and disappointing for the Cornhuskers. While Nebraska looks to challenge Iowa at a few weights in this dual, Brands has a lineup that just doesn’t quit and should comfortably lift him to 13-0 vs Nebarska.
125: #10 Drake Ayala or Jesse Ybarra vs Jeremiah Reno
133: #3 Austin Desanto vs Dominick Serrano or Alex Thomsen
141: #2 Jaydin Eierman vs #10 Chad Red Jr
149: #10 Max Murin vs #5 Ridge Lovett
157: #13 Kaleb Young vs #8 Peyton Robb
165: #5 Alex Marinelli vs Bubba Wilson
174: #2 Michael Kemerer vs #6 Mikey Labriola
184: #16 Abe Assad vs #13 Taylor Venz
197: #2 Jacob Warner vs #5 Eric Schultz
285: #2 Tony Cassiopi vs #10 Christian Lance
*Rankings via Flowrestling
This dual presents a great matchup to get Drake Ayala back on the mat for Iowa. Ayala is 3-2 as an attached wrestler and 13-4 overall. To secure an automatic bid for NCAA’s, he needs eight matches. Going in the Nebarska dual and wrestling a guaranteed two matches regardless of results at the Big10 tournament brings him to eight. Even falling short of the eight match threshold isn’t of much concern as he is a highly ranked wrestler with a quality reputation and deserves an at large bid. But, considering recent Olympic Committee decisions and the entire sordid history of the NCAA, leaving such a decision to a governing body of athletics is a poor choice. Should Ybarra get another start, Iowa still ought to take a decision win from the 125 bout.
Big opportunities for bonus points await at 133 and 165 with a TF almost guaranteed at 133. Let’s just hope DeSanto doesn’t get too carried away (see this article’s lead photo) and earn another suspension for badassery.
Close wins should come Iowa’s way from 141, 174, and heavyweight though either 141 or 174 could be the bout of the night for excitement and wild scramble potential. Chad Red and Mikey Labriola are both talented guys but have never beaten their Iowa opponents.
If neither of those weights produce wild action, 149 just might. Lovett is a scrambling, tough riding, pinning machine and the type of guy Murin has had trouble with in the past. The 2022 version of Murin has looked very good though and has what it takes to make this a last point scored wins kind of match.
Together with 149, we have tossups at 157, 184, and 197. Young is on a quiet 7-0 run while Robb hasn’t looked at all dominant the past few weeks so what was a clear Nebarska advantage at 157 now seems like Young’s best opportunity of the year to get back into the top10. Nebraska’s Venz at 184 has been on a slow decline even longer than Robb while the clock is nearly out on Assad’s season to prove he can show up for Iowa. He too has a great opportunity in this dual. And then we have 197. The saga of Oklahoma State’s AJ Ferrari and his status is of note here. He was injured in a major car accident several weeks ago that looked certain to put him out of action for the year. Then, Ferrari tweeted just ten days ago that he was quickly working back to “100%”, suggesting he’d make an appearance come tournament time to claim his #1 seed. Well, evidently his medical team and reality felt otherwise as he is undergoing season ending surgery. All that to say, Warner is now #2 at 197 and Schultz fits in not far behind nationally. It’s trivializing to proclaim this match doesn’t matter but come Big10 tournament time these guys are locked into a probable semifinal showdown as number two and three seeds regardless of who wins this dual match. It’s more important for Warner to beat Schultz in a couple weeks to secure a revenge rematch with Penn State’s #1 Max Dean. If Dean makes it to the final that is. He backed into the top spot and is the least dominant #1 I’ve seen in a long time while current rankings place Cam Caffey in position to be his semi final opponent. Caffey beat him less than a month ago. Still, Warner beating Schultz now AND later would be fun.
Also in action Sunday are six Iowa underclassmen at the Last Chance Open in Ames. Competition begins at 10am (CT). A couple of these guys will likely be starting for Iowa next year. Schriever and Kennedy are two particular frontrunners.
133 – Charles Matthews
133 – Cullan Schriever
149 – Caleb Rathjen
165 – Patrick Kennedy
165 – Jack McClimon
174 – Brennan Swafford
I’ll be attending this dual and unable to do a play by play so please feel free to post results and commentary in the thread!
Opponent: #10 Nebraska
Dual time: 6PM God’s Time (Central) // Sunday February 20th, 2022
Location: Bob Devaney Sports Complex // Lincoln, Nebraska.