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Iowa Wrestling: No. 2 Iowa vs No. 11 Nebraska & No. 16 Wisconsin Preview

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Syndication: HawkCentral Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK

Alright Hawkeye fans, here we are, entering the meatgrinder of the Big Ten season and we’ve got a stacked action packed weekend of duals ahead of us. Friday night we play host to the surging #11 Nebraska Cornhuskers followed by a quick turnaround and trip to #16 Wisconsin Badgers on Sunday afternoon.

Per the official records we’re 35-10-1 all time against the Huskers and have won the previous 13 duals dating back to 2005. In fact, Tom Brands has never lost to our western neighbors and that’s a trend we’d like to continue.

Likewise, we’re 80-8-3 against Wisconsin including the last 10 duals and 41 of 42 dating back to 1975. Staggeringly, we’re 40-4-2 in Madison on the Badgers home mat - it doesn’t seem to matter where we grapple, we’re likely to add another pelt to our collection.

Assuming we’re close to full strength (which at this point are we ever?) we’ll take care of business Sunday against Wiscy, however, Nebraska will prove to be a tough task even if we roll out the welcome mat with a full lineup.

NEBRASKA (6-2) - Friday Night 8PM CT

The Huskers are coming off their best postseason run in over a decade with a solid 5th place finish in last year’s NCAAs. They struggled out of the gate this season to a 1-2 record, falling to North Dakota State and (now) #5 NC State before turning it on and winning the Navy Classic and Cliff Keen in early December. Since then, they haven’t looked back and have rattled off 5 consecutive dual wins including beatdowns over fellow B1G squads, #13 Minnesota and #14 Northwestern.

Head coach Mark Manning has this team firing on all cylinder with 7 appearing in Intermat’s top 30, including 4 inside the top 5 - led by: #1 Peyton Robb (157), #2 Mikey Labriola (174), #3 Liam Cronin (125), and #5 Brock Hardy (141).

The path to victory for Nebraska is simple: win the matches they’re favored out, steal a couple tossups, and keep everything else to a decision. With our shakiness at a few weights, this very well could be a nail biter heading into the final couple of matches in what will already be a late night.

I also shouldn’t fail to mention the possibility that they pull the redshirt on last year’s NCAA finalist, Ridge Lovett (149). I can’t imagine that happening this late in the year, but if it does, they’ll have a solid team built for a deep run in March.

For what it’s worth, Nebraska is tied with us at #2 in Flowrestling’s latest rankings. Thankfully, this dual will break the deadlock - though admittedly I don’t pay much attention to anything Flo puts out these days.

WISCONSIN (6-4) - Sunday Afternoon 2PM CT

Wisconsin enters the weekend at 6-4, coming on the heels of a blow out to #8 Michigan, 6-27. They face Purdue while we battle Nebraska, so they could either be feeling a bit more optimistic about their chances or completely in the gutter, especially if the Boilermakers push their losing streak to 4 straight.

Wisconsin started off the season strong, after an early gutty win against #6 Cornell, 19-13 which kicked off a 4 dual win streak, but as I alluded to, they have since lost 3 in a row, all to B1G foes.

However, head coach Chris Bono is doing what he can with the weak spots in his lineup. Despite some black holes, he still has 8 appearing inside the top 30 with 3 in the top 6.

They’re led by ex-Cyclone and returning All-American, Austin Gomez, who is having one helluva season after he knocking off 3x Champ, Yianni Diakomihalis (Cornell) in November. He hasn’t lost since.

The other notables in their lineup are: #6 Eric Barnett (125), #6 Dean Hamiti (165), and 2x AA #11 Trent Hillger (285).

I’m hard pressed to see a Wiscy win here, unless we throw out a handful of backups and completely shit the mat Sunday afternoon… which I guess shouldn’t be out of the question considering the adversities we’ve already faced.

But here it goes, if we struggle at 133 and 157, and send in back ups at 141 and 197, that will assuredly open the door for them to steal one. They’ll have to find some sort of bonus points along the way to close the gap further and at least on paper, I’m having a hard time seeing it.

IOWA (10-0)

With our dominating performance last weekend against Northwestern we pushed our dual win streak to 13 dating back to last year. Tom Brands is working pure magic right now as he’s attempting to get his healthiest and bestest team on the mat - unfortunately many are competing banged up, sick, or out-right injured and unable to go.

Despite the setbacks, all 10 now appear in the rankings - though admittedly some are lower than expected at this point in the season. Thankfully, this weekend will give guys such as Cobe Siebrecht, Patrick Kennedy and Nelson Brands an opportunity to pull off a major upset. Not only are wins here paramount for a dual victory, but also for seeding purposes for the Big Ten Tournament, which is quickly approaching.


125 - #1 Spencer Lee vs #3 Liam Cronin

133 - #18 Cullan Schriever // Brody Teske vs Kyle Burwick // Boo Dryden

141 - #2 Real Woods vs #5 Brock Hardy

149 - #7 Max Murin // Caleb Rathjen vs Dayne Morton // Blake Cushing

157 - #21 Cobe Siebrecht vs #1 Peyton Robb

165 - #10 Patrick Kennedy vs #30 Bubba Wilson // Adam Thebeau

174 - #16 Nelson Brands vs #2 Mikey Labriola

184 - #8 Abe Assad vs #16 Lenny Pinto // Brandyn Van Tassell

197 - #8 Jacob Warner vs #22 Silas Allred

285 - #3 Tony Cassioppi vs Cale Davidson


125 - #1 Spencer Lee vs #6 Eric Barnett

133 - #18 Cullan Schriever // Brody Teske vs #28 Taylor Lamont // Nicolar Rivera

141 - #2 Real Woods vs #26 Joseph Zargo // Felix Lettini

149 - #7 Max Murin // Caleb Rathjen vs #2 Austin Gomez

157 - #21 Cobe Siebrecht vs #18 Garrett Model

165 - #10 Patrick Kennedy vs #6 Dean Hamiti

174 - #16 Nelson Brands vs James Rowley // Josh Otto

184 - #8 Abe Assad vs Tyler Dow

197 - #8 Jacob Warner vs #13 Braxton Amos

285 - #3 Tony Cassioppi vs #11 Trent Hillger


125 - #1 Spencer Lee vs #3 Liam Cronin

Our 3x champ is absolutely demolishing the field and wrestling with straight attitude. Our usual stoic leader is letting loose the dogs of war while shouting his intentions to the rafters of every arena he is entering.

Liam Cronin is feeling sky high coming off back-to-back wins over #4 Michael DeAugustino (NW) and #5 Pat McKee (Minnesota) - but he could be another highly ranked guy standing on the track waiting for the Lee-Train to come through. Could this be the 5th fall in a row for the good guy? Also, Lee is 3-0 against Cronin going pin, tech, pin.

141 - #2 Real Woods vs #5 Brock Hardy

Despite the tech fall last weekend for Woods, he struggled in the 3rd. He oddly sealed the tech with a riding time point as time expired (I can’t recall the last time I’ve seen that happen). Woods has looked good in his limited action and I’m confident this weekend, but only if his conditioning has found the next level and he can motor his way to a full 7 minutes.

Hardy is a talented redshirt freshman looking to make a statement in what amounts to being his biggest and toughest match to date. He’s mostly beaten up on lower ranked opponents through his 3 tournaments thus far, but he did upend former All-American #9 Clay Carlson (SDSU).

This is an important early swing match for this dual and one Woods needs to win. If he can find an early TD and has a couple minutes to work with, I like the idea of him getting a couple arm bar tilts to open it up going into the 2nd. Pushing the youngster into deep water early could break it before it fully starts.

157 - #21 Cobe Siebrecht vs #1 Peyton Robb

Cobe has been the Cinderella story of the Hawkeye season and he’ll have a chance to become the future fan favorite if he can pull off the impossible against Robb, who placed 4th last year.

Robb is 17-0, but has had a few close calls lately. Coincidentally against #14 Trevor Chumbley, 2-0, who Cobe topped last weekend, 6-3.

Cobe has his work cut out for him, but if he holds strong defensively, wrestles smart and looks for his openings, he could find a big move or two that’ll keep him in this match. He needs confidence and this is a biiiiiig momentum builder.

174 - #16 Nelson Brands vs #2 Mikey Labriola

Labriola and former hawk great, Michael Kemerer, had quite the rivalry last year. Kemdawg took the series, 2 matches to 1, but the Cornhusker appears to have found a new gear this year and is at 18-0.

Conversely, Nelson has been underwhelming in his junior campaign and has wrestled tight matches, even against weaker competition. I know he’s been roughed up following an off-season injury, but this is one such match where he must dial it up and tap back into his old offensive prowess that put him on the radar coming out of high school.

This is a big match for Brands. And Labriola. And this dual.


125 - #1 Spencer Lee vs #6 Eric Barnett

This will be similar to the previous matchup with Cronin. Eric Barnett is another 2x AA looking to upset one of the all-time greats. He’s 14-2 following a loss to Michigan’s #23 Jack Medley. Lee will be eyeing another 1st period pin or tech, but Barnett is talented, which is evident by his win over former finalist #7 Brandon Courtney at the Midland’s Championships last month.

Yes, that is the same Courtney that ran from Lee in the 2021 NCAA finals.

Lee is already the Hodge Trophy front runner, but another bonus point win here will make him the heavy favorite entering into the waning months of the season.

149 - #7 Max Murin vs #2 Austin Gomez

Austin Gomez is rolling and there ain’t no other way to say it. He’s always been a “Go Big or Go Home” type of guy, but over the last 18 months he’s put it all together, while continuing to look for and successfully pulling off those nasty throws.

I love the way Max has been competing this season, but he’s going to have to dig deeper than he ever has to pull off the upset here. He needs to stay aggressive and get to his offense while simultaneously not stepping into a throw and a fatal 6 point move. Gomez has a tendency to wrestle some high scoring matches, which means he’ll give up the occasional TD or 2. That may be all Max needs to pull this out.

157 - #21 Cobe Siebrecht vs #18 Garrett Model

This is another shot for Cobe to pull off an upset and gain some ground in the rankings. Model is no world-beater, but he’s a far cry from a slouch. Model is the type of guy Cobe will run into in the early rounds (or even consolations) at the NCAA’s. If he wants to net any points in March and climb his way to a podium finish, the Garrett Model’s are the type of opponent he needs to upend along the way.

165 - #10 Patrick Kennedy vs #6 Dean Hamiti

165lbs is stacked this year and perhaps one of the deepest weights in history with 3 former champs locking down the top 3 spots. Outside of that, there’s another (by my count) 5 returning All-Americans, including Hamiti, above Kennedy in the rankings. Any of those 5 are the 2nd tier of this weight class and currently Kennedy is notch below them.

A win over the Badger will not only jettison him further up the rankings, but cement his status as a true podium threat.

PK will have to bring his “A” game and wrestle his absolute best, but this is a match he can win if he does perform to the best of his abilities.

Broadcast Info

Opponent: Nebraska

Dual time: 8:00PM GT (Central) // Friday, Jan. 19 2023

Location: Carver-Hawkeye Arena // Iowa City, IA

TV/ Online: BTN // Foxsports

Radio: iHeartRadio (AM800 KXIC)