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Iowa Wrestling: No. 2 Iowa vs No. 12 Minnesota Preview

It’s gopher huntin’ season!

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

“Great big globs of greasy, grimy, gopher guts!”

-Carl Spackler from The Caddyshack Chronicles of a True Hawkeye Fan

I’m beyond excited to announce that we have been cordially invited north of the border to Mr. Eggum’s farm for the annual Great Gopher Hunt of 2023! Or the GGH23 as they call it up there. You know how those folk up there do. Since their discovery of the cellphone a few years back they’ve fallen hard for acronyms.

I don’t want to spoil their fun, but I for one am pumped to bring back some fresh pelts to Iowa City.

Tonight’s dual marks the final regular season road test for our Hawkeyes with the first whistle ready to blow at 8 PM CT. Including tonight’s festivities, we only have three more duals to appreciate our beloved seniors before the Big Ten Tournament kicks off on March 4, followed quickly by the NCAA’s.

Our historic programs have quite the rivalry with us leading the all-time series 78-28-1 including the last 8 consecutive meetings.


The Gophers burst out of the gate winning their first 7 duals of the season - including a big win over rival #11 Oklahoma State, 18-12. They hit a bit of a rough patch at the turn of the year dropping two straight to Northwestern and Nebraska before righting the ship and claiming the next 4.

While they lost their big gun and backend anchor in 2x champ, Gable Steveson, they’re still a formidable and deep team. Especially in the dual capacity. When completely healthy and presenting their best lineup they have all starters appearing in the rankings with two inside the top 10: #6 Patrick McKee (125lbs) and #10 Isaiah Salazar (184lbs). McKee and #15 Jake Bergland (141lbs) are their lone returning AA’s from last year, while #17 Brayton Lee (157lbs) placed 6th in 2021. He sustained a season ending injury last year that derailed any chance of a repeat performance.

Tonight will undoubtedly be an uphill battle for the Gophers, but one they could make interesting with a couple upsets. By my count, there’s roughly five tossup matches on the slate: 133, 149, 157, 174, and 184. A path to victory is a narrow endeavor, but if they can claim a few of these matches, find a big upset or two, and hold the rest to decisions they’ll open the door. Those are some big “IFs” but stranger things have happened on a late night Friday dual.

IOWA (12-1)

We’re fresh off a hard fought loss on the road last week against #1 Penn State and again find ourselves in hostile territory against another big time rival. I personally think our performance against PSU was pretty damn solid, save for some lackluster wrestling at our upper weights. We went toe-to-toe with some of the best in the biz with a depleted team and Patrick Kennedy even snagged a momentum building upset along the way.

Tonight could be the rebound performance a handful of our guys need to get back on track for our final two duals leading up to a postseason run.

Minnesota will look to control the ties, slow these matches down, and work the edges of the mat to their favor. All things us Hawkeyes typically don’t like, but find ourselves in. A lot.

This is one of these odd matchups where we could split 5-5 or pitch a shutout and skunk them 10-0. Health has been our biggest obstacle this season and that nasty question rears its ugly head again with the gnarly TBA at 184lbs. #12 Abe Assad hasn’t been seen from since his epic fall from grace a couple weeks back after he was counting the lights during his match with Wisconsin’s Tyler Dow.

Minny is going to do what they can to slow the pace and we need to do what we can to deter that approach. Tom Brands has been preaching for years that we need to wrestle our match, get to our ties, and pick up-shift the gears. Obviously, that’s easier said than done, but that will be the strategy tonight and we cannot allow ourselves to be suckered into that type of encounter.

Should we break through and wrestle our matches, bonus points will win the day (as they always do, right?).

By my count we’re heavy favorites at 125, 141, 197, and 285 and a solid favorite at 165. Bonus points here will lock this thing up. No way around it, let’s go out and get the damn thing done.


125 - #1 Spencer Lee vs #6 Patrick McKee

133 - #17 Brody Teske // Cullan Schriever vs #15 Aaron Nagao // Jake Gilva

141 - #2 Real Woods vs #15 Jake Bergeland

149 - #6 Max Murin vs #15 Michael Blockhus

157 - #15 Cobe Siebrecht vs #17 Brayton Lee // Sebas Swiggum

165 - #13 Patrick Kennedy vs #28 Andrew Sparks // Cael Carlson

174 - #15 Nelson Brands vs #11 Bailee O’Reilly // Jared Krattiger

184 - TBA vs #10 Isaiah Salazar

197 - #7 Jacob Warner vs #28 Michael Foy

285 - #3 Tony Cassioppi vs #32 Garrett Joles

Key Matchups:

125 - #1 Spencer Lee vs #6 Patrick McKee

Lee wasn’t able to extend his pin streak to 7, but he did retain his 100% bonus rate on the season with a big 1st period tech over PSU’s Marco Vespa. Lee completed the task with an unprecedented 0 takedowns after giving up two (and almost near fall), snaring a reversal, and going to work with tilts.

McKee is a different animal. They’ve met once before with Lee winning via pin in the 1st, but that was two years ago and the Gopher has placed on the podium since and wrestling well.

Ultimately, I don’t expect this to be a big challenge for Lee, but it’s noteworthy to note if Lee can continue his bonus point tear, especially against another top 10 opponent and returning AA.

133 - #17 Brody Teske // Cullan Schriever vs #15 Aaron Nagao // Jake Gilva

Assuming Teske gets the nod, this could be my most intriguing matchup of the night. Aaron Nagao is a young up-and-comer who’s fresh off a big win over #18 Rayvon Foley. He’s knocked off a handful of returning NCAA qualifiers en route to a 14-3 record.

This is a must have match for both for seeding purposes with the B1G tourney a few short weeks away. Teske has been tested in his limited action this year and this is another one he must pass.

149 - #6 Max Murin vs #15 Michael Blockhus

Max holds a 3-0 record over his northern counterpart and should win this match as well, but the gap has narrowed. What started as a major decision a few years ago resulted in a 3-1 decision last season.

Of further note for anyone that follows Iowa high school wrestling, Blockus is a former UNI and Iowa prep that was a 4x finalist and 3x state champ.

157 - #15 Cobe Siebrecht vs #17 Brayton Lee // Sebas Swiggum

Cobe had an opportunity to win last weekend, but failed to capitalize in the waning moments against now #9 Levi Haines (PSU). We’ve already lost to three in-conference foes, we don’t want to make it 4. Ya know, seeding and all that.

Lee is a 2021 AA whose post-season was cut short last year and has struggled this year to a 4-6 record. But that doesn’t make him any less dangerous - we’re all waiting and expecting him to bounce back.

This is a must win for both. We need Cobe to get back on the saddle and find his offense while displaying smart defense. Look for the big move if there, but stop relying on it. He’s at his best when he attacks, so he needs to attack!

174 - #15 Nelson Brands vs #11 Bailee O’Reilly // Jared Krattiger

Nelson lost a spirited battle against #1 Carter Starocci (2-0) last weekend. He wrestled conservative (which isn’t new), but in terms of how he presented himself it was probably his best match of the year, despite the losing effort.

O’Reilly isn’t a world beater, but he is more than capable. He recently knocked off #12 Edmond Ruth (ILL), who topped Brands earlier this year. Nelson has faced some tough competition lately and is now 4-4 on the year and likely eyeing a poor seed at the conference tourney. A win here will keep him from dipping lower.

Nelson needs to dig deep and get to it. With limited action left and a subpar record he’s going to rely on an auto bid for March and that only happens if he places high enough at B1G’s.

Broadcast Info

Opponent: Minnesota

Dual time: 8:00PM GT (Central) // Friday, Feb. 3, 2023

Location: Maturi Pavilion // Minneapolis, MN

TV/ Online: BTN // Foxsports

Radio: iHeartRadio (AM800 KXIC)

I probably won’t be available for a play-by-play tonight, but I will do my best to post results. Let’s go get em!!!

I also want to thank you all for the spirited and lively conversations we’ve had in the match threads the past few duals. It’s awesome. AWESOME.

Despite wrestling being what Iowa athletics is known for, it’s still very much a niche sport and I love reading comments of aspiring fans that are hungry for more and devouring my mediocre content.

I thank you all.


On a personal note, I want to give a big shout out to AJ Rosol and Sarah Lewis of Centerville, IA. For anyone following along, the first-ever fully sanctioned IGHSAU girls state wrestling tournament is currently going on and my former high school had two in the semifinals.

#21 Ross and #2 Lewis pinslayed their way to the semis, but unfortunately both fell. However, they’re still alive in the cons and can finish as high as 3rd.

Yesterday was a momentous day for girls wrestling in the state of Iowa which saw 448 athletes compete! Truly amazing considering a handful of years ago we didn’t even have triple digits compete throughout the season.

For anyone in the Coralville area, there’s still some great action to take in as Session Three kicked off this morning (9AM - 3PM) followed by the medal rounds and championships of Session Four (6PM - 9PM).

***Thank you to a friend for pointing out an editorial mistake. I looked at the brackets dark and early this morning and misread them. Or perhaps Trackwrestling posted the wrong info? Yup, I’m going in that direction.***