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Iowa Wrestling Opens Season With Clean Sweep at Luther Open

Iowa crowns 10 champions at the season-opening Luther Open.

Hawkeye Sports

Iowa officially opened the 2013-14 wrestling season on Saturday, making the short trip to Decorah to take part in the Luther Open, hosted by Luther College.  Iowa dominated the competition on hand, winning titles at all ten elite-level (aka, varsity) weight classes.  That level of dominance wasn't terribly surprising -- outside of Iowa, nearly all of the teams on hand were all pulled from the JUCO, DII, and DIII ranks.  A national title-contending DI team like Iowa should dominate competition like this, which is exactly what they did.

Given the disparity in the talent at this event, there's not a great deal that we could (or should) take from these results.  Other than the Iowa City Duals next weekend, Iowa's likely to see stronger at every future dual meet and tournament on the schedule.  (An aside: while the overall talent level of the Luther Open was not high, at least relative to the Iowa team, there were definitely some very good individual talents there, like former Iowa wrestler Edwin Cooper and several of the Wartburg wrestlers.)

That said, the stats for Iowa at this event are certainly eye-popping.  At the elite level, Iowa crowned champions at each weight and had both finalists at four weights.  (At 184 they even managed to engineer a clean sweep of 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th.)  Only two Iowa wrestlers failed to place in the top-4 at their respective weights.  Iowa wrestlers at the elite level put together a record of 103-20, with 11 of the losses coming to fellow Iowa wrestlers.  58 of those 103 wins featured bonus points and 40 of those 58 wins were of the pinfall variety.  One of the keys for Iowa's national title contention this year will be their ability to rack up bonus points in wins; it's good to see that attacking mindset on display here.

A few weight-by-weight thoughts...

125: Cory Clark (4-0, 1ST PLACE -- CHAMPION)
W, FALL (3:35) Nate Yoshimura (Wartburg)
W, FALL (2:43) Quenten Fisher (Wisconsin-La Crosse)
W, FALL (2:09) Chris Paulus (Upper Iowa)
W, DEC (4-0) Thomas Gilman (Iowa)

125: Thomas Gilman (3-1, 2ND PLACE -- RUNNER-UP)
W, FALL (1:29) Stephen Galbreath (NIACC)
W, FALL (2:29) Robert Boesch (Wartburg)
W, TECH FALL (26-11) Nick Scheffer (Luther)
L, DEC (4-0) Cory Clark (Iowa)

Tom Brands & Co. have chosen to eschew the usual open-to-the-public wrestle-offs this season, so competitions like this (and the upcoming dual meets on the slate) will be immensely useful in determining who gets the starting nod at contested weights on the Iowa team.  It's fair to say that 125 is one of those contested weights, with Gilman and Clark both vying for the opportunity to replace Matt McDonough in the starting lineup.  We entered the season thinking that Clark had the edge after his excellent redshirt season and this tournament did nothing to change that notion; he picked up three pins and then beat Gilman in head-to-head competition in the finals.  Clark appears to have the upper hand on Gilman in head-to-head competition and he has an attacking, bonus point-seeking mindset that's often been the most important tiebreaker for Brands in debates like this.  (Not that Gilman was exactly lacking in the bonus points here, either -- he did have two falls and a tech fall, after all.  He's a very good wrestler and he should do very well for Iowa when he gets his chance in the lineup... that just might have to wait until 2014-15.)

133: Tony Ramos (4-0, 1ST PLACE -- CHAMPION)
W, FALL (3:54) Martino Balsiger (unattach)
W, FALL (1:33) Anthony Hable (Upper Iowa)
W, FALL (6:32) Landon Shea (Wartburg)
W, MAJ DEC (14-5) Evan Obert (Luther)

133: Matt Gurule (4-1, 3RD PLACE)
W, DEC (11-4) Alfredo Rodriguez (Iowa Lakes CC)
W, DEC (12-5) Trevor Pruett (Wisconsin-Whitewater)
L, DEC (6-0) Evan Obert (Luther)
W, DEC (9-4) Jacob Freeman (Simpson)
W, DEC (6-4) Landon Shea (Wartburg)

Hey, guys, Tony Ramos is good!  Did you realize that?  Because he is.  Four matches, four wins, four bonus point wins, including three falls.  If we wanted to quibble, we could argue that he "only" managed a major decision in the finals, but that's about the only thing worth complaining about.  (And even that's not worth complaing about very much.) Gurule is nominally a 125er, so he was wrestling up a weight at this event, which might explain why he was one of the only Iowa wrestlers who failed to get a bonus point win yesterday.  Gurule is, at best, third-choice at either 125 or 133; if Ramos was injured and forced to miss a few matches, I suspect we'd see Clark fill in for him (with Gilman taking over at 125).

141: Josh Dziewa (4-0, 1ST PLACE -- CHAMPION)
W, MAJ DEC (11-1) Samuel Chalkley (Cornell College)
W, MAJ DEC (15-3) Mason Geary (Wisconsin-La Crosse)
W, FALL (6:59) Mason Bohm (Wisconsin-Plattesville)
W, DEC (2-0) Ethan Owens (Iowa)
W, DEC (4-0) Topher Carton (Iowa)

141: Topher Carton (4-1, 2ND PLACE -- RUNNER-UP)
W, TECH FALL (16-0) Jose Collado (Wisconsin-Plattesville)
W, FALL (1:03) Duane Richardson (Upper Iowa)
W, MAJ DEC (8-0) Dakota Gray (Luther)
W, FALL (3:47) Alphonso Vruno (Minnesota State-Mankato)
L, DEC (4-0) Josh Dziewa (Iowa)

141: Ethan Owens (5-1, 3RD PLACE)
W, DEC (6-2) Ray Feliz-Taveras (Cornell College)
W, DEC (9-3) Nick Steger (Luther0
W, DEC (11-4) Jordan Roths (Upper Iowa)
L, DEC (2-0) Josh Dziewa (Iowa)
W, DEC (6-1) Matt Adcock (Wisconsin-Whitewater)
W, MAJ DEC (12-3) Jordan Roths (Upper Iowa)

Iowa swept the top-3 spots at 141, with presumptive starter Josh Dziewa cruising to three bonus point wins before hitting the Iowa portion of his competition.  (Like many of the matches between Iowa wrestlers at this event, Dziewa's wins over Owens and Carton were very tight; as always, it's probably best to chalk that up to the extreme amount of familiarity between the wrestlers... when you drill against the same people day after day and month after month they get a pretty good handle on your tricks.)  Dziewa performed as expected, but the surprise here was Carton, who picked up four bonus point wins on his way to the finals.  The usual caveats about the competition apply, but dominating performances like that are certainly intriguing.  Carton could be a name to watch here in a year or two.

149: Mike Kelly (5-0, CHAMPION)
W, FALL (1:58) Greg Vance (Loras)
W, MAJ DEC (12-3) Andrew Hartmann (Luther)
W, DEC (11-7) Trevor Engle (Cornell College)
W, DEC (6-1) Connor Ryan (Iowa)
W, DEC (6-5) Edwin Cooper (Upper Iowa)

149: Brody Grothus (4-1, 3RD PLACE)
W, MAJ DEC (9-0) Kory Jauch (Wisconsin-Whitewater)
W, DEC (4-3) Mark Pinero (Wartburg)
L, DEC (7-4) Edwin Cooper (Upper Iowa)
W, DEC (8-3) Elroy Perkins (Wisconsin-Whitewater)
W, DEC (1-0) Connor Ryan (Iowa)

149: Connor Ryan (4-2, 4TH PLACE)
W, FALL (1:09) Josh Tyler (Upper Iowa)
W, DEC (3-0) Jason Davidson (Dubuque)
W, DEC (4-3) Elroy Perkins (Wisconsin-Whitewater)
L, DEC (6-1) Mike Kelly (Iowa)
W, DEC (3-2 TB1) Mark Pinero (Wartburg)
L, DEC (1-0) Brody Grothus (Iowa)

Iowa grabbed 1st, 3rd, and 4th at this weight, with only former Iowa wrestler (although his Iowa stint was about the length of a cup of coffee) Edwin Cooper standing in the way of another clean sweep of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd.  Cooper was expected to be the starter for Iowa at 149 and there was hope that he could give Iowa some much-needed firepower at this weight; Kelly's win over him certainly qualifies as a nice win.  (Incidentally, it's also nice to see him back down at 149, as there was some talk in the off-season that he wouldn't be able to make the cut down to that weight again.)  A healthy Kelly does seem like the best option for Iowa at this weight, assuming the weight cut isn't a problem.  That said, this is another weight where the competition figures to drag on for a while longer; we'll probably see both Grothus and Kelly at the Iowa City Duals and at Midlands next month.

157: Derek St. John (5-0, 1ST PLACE -- CHAMPION)
W, FALL (4:46) Brandon Madsen (Wartburg)
W, TECH FALL (18-2) RJ Dilcher (Wisconsin-La Crosse)
W, DEC (10-3) Dallas Schurg (MIlwaukee School of Engineering)
W, DEC (3-1) Patrick Rhoads (Iowa)
W, DEC (8-2) Brandon Sorenson (Iowa)

157: Brandon Sorenson (4-1, 2ND PLACE -- RUNNER-UP)
W, DEC (8-1) Derek Weinmann (Wisconsin-La Crosse)
W, FALL (1:47) Justin Van Est (William Penn)
W, TECH FALL (18-3) Blake Letney (Luther)
W, DEC (3-2) Nicholas Michael (Wartburg)
L, DEC (8-2) Derek St. John (Iowa)

157: Patrick Rhoads (5-1, 3RD PLACE)
W, TECH FALL (22-6) Dominic Taus (Loras)
W, DEC (3-2) Zak Benitz (Upper Iowa)
W, FALL (2:08) Brent Blaser (Luther)
L, DEC (3-1) Derek St. John (Iowa)
W, FALL (4:22) Drew Wagenhoffer (Wartburg)
W, TECH FALL (17-1) Sawyer Hoffman (Minnesota State-Mankato)

157: Jake Kadel (3-2, DNP)
W, FALL (3:31) Jeffrey Lin (UW-Madison Wrestling Club)
L, FALL (6:46) Adam Cooling (Minnesota State-Mankato)
W, FALL (3:47) Jake Fox (Luther)
W, DEC (8-5) Branden Madsen (Wartburg)
L, DEC (3-2) Blake Letney (Luther)

Yet another weight where Iowa gobbled up all of the top spots.  That Derek St. John was the champion here should be no surprise (defending NCAA champion, y'all!) and, sadly, the fact that he did so with just two bonus points probably shouldn't be much of a surprise, either.  St. John's often started seasons slowly and in general he's never been a huge source of bonus points on Iowa's roster.  Obviously, it would be nice if he was -- it hurts that one of the best wrestlers on Iowa's team isn't a big bonus point scorer -- but what he does do is win a lot of matches, which isn't so bad.  The bigger question mark for Iowa is who replaces St. John at this weight after he graduates this year; Brandon Sorenson, one of the stars of Iowa's 2013 recruiting class, finished 2nd at this event and grabbed a pair of bonus point wins along the way, but the presumption was that he'd slot in at 149 for Iowa after his redshirt season this year.  That may still be on the table; if so, Kelly, Rhoads, and Kadel figure to be fighting it out for the starting job at 157 next year.

165: Walt Gilmor (4-0, 1ST PLACE -- CHAMPION)
W, DEC (2-0) Isaiah Erickson (Wisconsin-La Crosse)
W, FALL (0:44) Peter Kootstra (Milwaukee School of Engineering)
W, DEC (6-1) Cedric Gibson (Wisconsin-Whitewater)
W, MFF (med forfeit) Cole Welter (Wartburg)

165: Joe DuCharme (0-2, DNP)
L, DEC (6-1) Cole Welter (Wartburg)
L, DEC 14-9) Ishmael Rempson (William Penn)

Notably absent from the Iowa names at this weight is presumptive starter Nick Moore.  I'm not sure exactly where he was yesterday, but I suspect that it was injury-related; if so, hopefully it's just a minor injury.  (EDIT: Per the Daily Iowan, Moore is indeed dealing with a minor injury.) In his absence, Walt Gilmor filled in nicely with a trio of wins (and a win via medical forfeit in the championship match), but I don't think Gilmor is a realistic option to fill in here long term if Moore's absence is an extended one.  (That said, I also don't know what Iowa's other options are here; the ranks are a bit thin at 157 and 165.)

174: Mike Evans (5-0, 1ST PLACE -- CHAMPION)
W, FALL (2:22) Nick Fuller (Wartburg)
W, FALL (1:57) Mitchell Elmer (Wisconsin-Whitewater)
W, FALL (4:07) Jarid Groth (Luther)
W, TECH FALL (16-1) Garrett Miller (Rochester Community & Tech. College)
W, TECH FALL (16-0) Landon Williams (Wartburg)

The 'Stache (sans his familiar follicles, sadly) was Iowa's only participant at 174 in the elite level and he cruised through the competition with three falls, a pair of tech falls, and no doubt a host of sore limbs attached to his opponents.  This tournament didn't tell us anything we didn't already know about Evans; we already knew that he can dominate lesser competition.  The question for Evans this year is whether he can get over the hump against the top guys at this weight -- and that's not something we're going to find out at events like the Luther Open.

184: Ethen Lofthouse (4-0, 1ST PLACE -- CHAMPION)
W, FALL (3:17) Brit Bastow (Wartburg)
W, FALL (2:23) Aburough Abegash (Cornell College)
W, DEC (4-0) Jeremy Fahler (Iowa)
W, DEC (3-2) Sam Brooks (Iowa)

184: Sam Brooks (4-1, 2ND PLACE -- RUNNER-UP)
W, FALL (1:30) Taylor Witzel (Simpson)
W, FALL (3:38) Mark Hendricks (UW-Madison Wrestling Club)
W, TECH FALL (20-5) Ryan Aprahamian (Wisconsin-Whitewater)
W, DEC (6-3) Alex Meyer (Iowa)
L, DEC (3-2) Ethen Lofthouse (Iowa)

184: Jeremy Fahler (4-1, 3RD PLACE)
W, DEC (6-3) Sam Upah (Wartburg)
W, MAJ DEC (15-6) Jayden DeVilbiss (Luther)
L, DEC (4-0) Ethen Lofthouse (Iowa)
W, DEC (7-4) Ryan Aprahamian (Wisconsin-Whitewater)
W, DEC (7-5) Alex Meyer (Iowa)

184: Alex Meyer (4-2, 4TH PLACE)
W, FALL (3:57) Devin Johnson (Wisconsin Platteville)
W, MAJ DEC( 9-1) Kevin Stahmer (Cornell College)
W, DEC (6-1) Gerard Roman (Wartburg)
L, DEC (6-3) Sam Brooks (Iowa)
W, TECH FALL (20-5) Jayden DeVilbiss (Luther)
L, DEC (7-5) Jeremy Fahler (Iowa)

184 was another very good weight to the Hawks; they had all four of the semfinalists at this weight and ended with the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th-place finishers at the weight, with Ethen Lofthouse edging out Sam Brooks in the finals.  Brooks, like Gilman and Clark, was one of the gems of Iowa's 2012 recruiting class and he also had a very solid redshirt year last season (without the high-profile wins that Clark had).  He's still behind Lofthouse at this weight, but he should be the odds-on favorite to replace him next year and it looks like he could do a very good job when that day comes.  He ripped through the competition (two pins and a tech fall) before he hit fellow Iowa opponents.  Lofthouse wasn't bad himself, though, with a pair of pinfall wins and two wins over Iowa opponents to cap things off.

197: Kris Klapprodt (4-0, 1ST PLACE -- CHAMPION)
W, FALL (2:18) Joe Shue (Dubuque)
W, DEC (6-2) Shakheim Chapman (NIACC)
W, DEC (5-2) Carl Broghammer (Upper Iowa)
W, DEC (5-1) Shane Siefert (Wisconsin-Whitewater)

197: Tomas Lira (5-1, 3RD PLACE)
W, FALL (3:40) Cooper Hays (Minnesota State-Mankato)
L, DEC (7-2) Alex Coolidge (Cornell College)
W, FALL (2:32) Kyle Soderblom (William Penn)
W, FALL (2:09) Caleb Staub (Milwaukee School of Engineering)
W, MFF (med fft) Carl Broghammer (Upper Iowa)
W, FALL (1:03) Punahele Soriano (Wartburg)

Nick Moore wasn't the only presumptive Iowa starter absent from competition yesterday; the starter at this weight, Nathan Burak, was also missing in action.  Rumor has it that he's dealing with a minor injury issue at the moment.  (EDIT: per The Daily Iowan, Burak didn't make the trip because of academic responsibilities.) In his place, long-time 197 fill-in Lira and Kris Klapprodt stepped in -- and did pretty well.  Klapprodt is listed at 174/184, so he was wrestling up a weight (at least), making his showing here a bit more impressive.  It's hard to see exactly where he might be able to crack the Iowa line-up in the next few years, but if he continues to wrestle hard and improve, then he'll certainly have some opportunities.  Lira suffered a shock loss in his second match yesterday, but he rebounded with three first-period pins (and a win via medical forfeit) after that, which is about all you can ask for.

285: Bobby Telford (5-0, 1ST PLACE -- CHAMPION)
W, FALL (0:43) Cody Endres (Wisconsin-La Crosse)
W, FALL (0:41) Thomas Tourdot (Luther)
W, FALL (0:49) Nathan Vereka (William Penn)
W, FALL (0:37) Logan Hopp (Upper Iowa)
W, FALL (4:42) Ryan Fank (Wartburg)

285: Terrance Jean-Jacques (5-2, 4TH PLACE)
L, FALL (6:12) Ryan Frank (Wartburg)
W, DEC (10-3) Cody Endres (Wisconsin-La Crosse)
W, DEC (6-0) Spencer Foucher (Iowa Lakes CC)
W, FALL (1:49) Zach Tooley (Wisconsin-La Crosse)
W, FALL (0:38) Jeremy Brazil (Upper Iowa)
W, MFF (med fft) Logan Hopp (Upper Iowa)
L, DEC (2-0) Conner Herman (Luther)

No one wrestled less for Iowa yesterday than Bobby Telford... and that's a good thing.  He wrestled five matches that lasted a combined 7 minutes and 32 seconds.  But that's what happens when you record four first-minute pins.  Telford was a cut above the competition at this weight class and he didn't waste any time in showing it; bonus points aren't always easy to come by in heavyweight matches, but if Telford can keep up performances like this, it would be a huge boost for Iowa.  My only regret for Telford's performance?  That he shaved that rocking mustache he was sporting in the photo at the top of this post.  As for Iowa's other entrant at this weight... Jean-Jacques is a transfer from Rutgers.  He gives Iowa some much-needed depth at 285; his presence should mean that Iowa doesn't have to forfeit 285 in a dual meet this year if Telford is force to miss any time.

In addition to the elite (or varsity) division, the Luther Open also hosted a freshman division.  Iowa had seven entrants in that bracket: Philip Laux (125), Chance Shelton (133), Logan Thomsen (157), Logan McQuillen (165), Trevor Graves (174), Faraan Brantley (174), and Broc Berge (197).  Laux and Berge both claimed titles in their respective weight classes.  Thomsen finished 2nd in the 157 bracket, McQuillen finished 5th in the 165 bracket, Brantley finished 3rd in the 174 bracket, Graves finished 6th in the 174 bracket, and Shelton did not place.  You can find full results for the freshman division here.

So that's a wrap on the Luther Open. Iowa smoked the field, just like we thought they would.  On to the next competition, the Iowa City Duals next weekend.

And last, but certainly not least, a big, big thank-you to Tony for his excellent work providing updates and results in yesterday's open thread -- great job, man.