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IOWA WRESTLING ROUTS FIELD AT LUTHER OPEN

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Pins, pins, and more pins.

USA TODAY Sports

Iowa journeyed up the road to Decorah on Saturday to take part in the Luther Open and, as we fully expected, they absolutely dominated.  Iowa brought home 13 individual titles, including 10 titles (one in every weight class) in the senior division of the tournament.  To clarify: there were two divisions at the Luther Open: the "Elite" division and the "Silver" division.  The "Elite" division featured the varsity starters for several teams in the field, as well as several backups.  The "Silver" division was almost entirely comprised of backups.

Most Iowa wrestlers competed in the "Elite" division, although a handful competed in the "Silver" division instead.  It's not clear to me if this was because there was a limit on the number of competitors Iowa could have in the "Elite" division or if Iowa chose to have a few guys compete in the "Silver" division.  I'm not sure I see the point in having Iowa guys compete in that division -- where they faced mainly DIII or JUCO backups -- but hey.

Iowa's dominance here was nice but, again, completely and utterly expected.  This sort of result is precisely what you'd expect to see from Iowa facing a field full of DIII and JUCO wrestlers (and, in fact, we're likely to see very similar results next Friday when the Iowa City Duals come to town).  The field this year was boosted a bit by the presence of several Minnesota backups (the Minnesota starters wrestled a pair of dual meets out west today against Air Force and Wyoming), but this was still a field without much in the way of competition for Iowa.  So this isn't a result where we can glean a whole lot of information about this Iowa team.  They came, they saw, they conquered -- exactly like they were supposed to do.

Perhaps the most interesting thing to take away from these results is what they tell us about the pecking order at few of the more contentious weights, like 149 and 157.  I don't think anything has been settled at those weights -- nor do I think anything will be settled there until after Midlands -- but it does give us a rough idea of where things stand right now, which is better than nothing.  With that said, let's take a quick look at the results for the Iowa guys at the Luther Open.

ELITE

125: Thomas Gilman (5-0, 1st place, CHAMPION)

W, TECH FALL (21-6), Trevor Westelund (Unatt. Upper Iowa)
W, FALL (1:44), Scott Smtih (Cornell College)
W, FALL (5:15), Paul Mascarenas (Unatt. UNI)
W, MAJ DEC (16-5), Skyler Petry (Unatt Minnesota)
W, MAJ DEC (21-8), Alfredo Rodriguez (Iowa Lakes Comm)

Five matches, five bonus point wins.  Mission accomplished.  One of the concerns with Gilman last year was that he occasionally looked a bit gunshy on his feet and didn't go to his offense enough.  Five bonus point wins against overmatched opponents doesn't really tell us much about whether or not that's changed, but it is a good way to start the season.  Hopefully Gilman's summer international success has buoyed his confidence in his own attacks.

133: Cory Clark (4-0, 1st place, CHAMPION)

W, FALL (0:49), Sam Reichenbacker (Simpson College)
W, FALL (2:36), Conrad Bugby (Unatt. Wisconsin-Whitewater)
W, FALL (6:46), Phillip Opelt (Cornell College)
W, FALL (2:08), Ronny Hauser (Unatt. Wisconsin-Whitewater)

Four matches, four pins -- it doesn't look like Clark is having any difficulty adjusting to his new weight, at least not at this level of competition.  Clark more or less mowed through everyone he faced today -- only one match even got out of the first period.

141: Josh Dziewa (5-0, 1st place, CHAMPION)

W, FALL (2:11), Mitchell Kennedy (Luther College)
W, FALL (4:37), Anthony Hable (Upper Iowa)
W, DEC (5-4), Tommy Thorn (Unatt. Minnesota)
W, MAJ DEC (8-0), Alphonso Vruno (Minnesota State-Mankato)
W, DEC (4-1), Drew Van Anrooy (Luther College)

On the bright side, Dziewa grabbed three bonus point wins on his way to a title on Saturday.  On the down side, he barely beat undersized Minnesota true freshman Tommy Thorn.  Thorn (the younger brother of the previous Thorns that wrestled at Minnesota) is a very good prospect, but he's been mentioned as a possible 125 or 133 option for Minnesota this year, so he should certainly have been at a size disadvantage to Dziewa.  Dziewa got the desired results here, even if the performances weren't always what we'd care to see.  The key for Dziewa will be whether he can still get the desired results when the competition ramps up in a few months.

141: Topher Carton (4-2, 5th place)

W, TECH FALL (19-4), Tanner Mills (Unatt. Minnesota)
W, FALL (0:44), Nathan Shank (Cornell College)
W, TECH FALL (20-5), Matt Paulus (Upper Iowa)
L, DEC (4-3), Drew Van Anrooy (Luther College)
L, DEC (6-2), Tommy Thorn (Unatt. Minnesota)
W, MED FFT, Matt Paulus (Upper Iowa)

Carton has been the source of some curiosity the past few weeks, owing mainly to Tom Brands' effusive praise for him at Iowa Media Day a week ago (he called Carton Iowa's "most improved wrestler") and the general desire to see someone who could at least push Dziewa at 141, if not potentially replace him altogether.  These results are a decided mixed bag in that regard.  On one hand, he showed good aggression in picking up decisive bonus point wins in his first three matches.  On the other hand, he lost his next two matches (including one against the aforementioned Thorn) and "won" his final match on a medical forfeit.  I think it's fair to say Carton still has some work to do and the notion of him truly challenging Dziewa for the starting spot may be a bit premature.

149: Brody Grothus (5-0, 1st place, CHAMPION)

W, FALL (0:23), Blake Rogers (William Penn)
W, FALL (4:41), Josh Donkle (Coe College)
W, DEC (11-8), Kenneth Martin (Wartburg)
W, DEC (3-2), Brandon Sorensen (Iowa)
W, DEC (9-6), Edwin Cooper (Iowa)

Well, well, well.  The 149er that had been left for dead (so to speak) ended Saturday at the top of the heap, with a pair of head-to-head wins over his two fiercest competitors for the starting spot at this weight.  Grothus isn't the highly-touted hot new thing (Sorensen) and he isn't the flashy new transfer (Cooper), but he is the established face at this weight and, lest we forget, he's had some good results here in the past.  The issue for Grothus has just been consistency and that was something that popped up briefly here as well (see: that too-close-for-comfort 11-8 win over Martin).  I don't think Grothus has locked down the starting job here by any stretch of the imagination... but it's hard not to think that he still remains in the driver's seat after beating his two main challengers.

Edwin Cooper (4-1, 2nd place, RUNNER-UP)

W, FALL (0:39), Michael Rahman (Luther College)
W, MAJ DEC (14-4), Seth Lange (Minnesota)
W, FALL (3:28), Drew Lexvold (Minnesota State-Mankato)
W, MAJ DEC (11-0), Nosomy Pozo (North Iowa Area CC)
L, DEC (9-6), Brody Grothus (Iowa)

Cooper's Iowa debut was a solid success, minus the loss to Grothus in the finals.  He picked up bonus points in each of his four matches prior to that loss, including a pair of pins and a pair of lopsided major decisions.  The loss to Grothus was a setback, but Cooper still figures to be a factor in the race to start at this spot.

Brandon Sorensen (4-1, 3rd place)

W, FALL (3:36), Chase Stiener (Wisconsin-La Crosse)
W, FALL (0:47), Duane Richardson (Upper Iowa)
W, MAJ DEC (16-7), Trevor Engle (Cornell College)
L, DEC (3-2), Brody Grothus (Iowa)
W, FALL (3:00), Seth Lange (Minnesota)
W, MAJ DEC (17-4), Nosomy Pozo (North Iowa Area CC)

Despite his loss to Grothus (a very close loss and a match in which Sorensen was the one with better offense; he just wasn't quite able to finish a handful of shots on Grothus), I don't think this performance did anything to seriously dent Sorensen's chances of starting at 149 this season.  In fact, as an overall performance, it may have helped his cause.  The loss to Grothus hurts, but teammate v. teammate battles can be tricky encounters, since the level of familiarity is so high.  Outside of that loss, Sorensen was a steamroller, plowing through his other five opponents in bonus point beatdowns, including a trio of pins.  When two wrestlers at a weight class are fairly evenly matched, Brands has some history for favoring the more attacking wrestler, head-to-head results be damned.  (Call it the Tyler Clark Theorem.)  It might take until after Midlands, but Sorensen still seems like a decent bet to wind up the long-term starter at 149.

157: Mike Kelly (5-0, 1st place, CHAMPION)

W, FALL (4:13), Brady Meyer (Wartburg)
W, FALL (1:48), Matt Morris Jr. (Iowa Lakes CC)
W, DEC (11-4), Adam Cooling (Minnesota State-Mankato)
W, DEC (11-8), Elroy Perkin (Unatt. Wisconsin)
W, DEC (6-3), Yoanse Meijas (North Iowa Area CC)

Freed from the burden of cutting weight to get down to 149 and help fill Iowa's ever-present void there, Mike Kelly got to strut his stuff at his more natural weight of 157 and the results were... solid.  Not amazing, but not bad, either.  Just solid.  Five matches, five wins, a title in the bag.  It would have been nice to see a few more bonus points, but there isn't anything to seriously complain about in his performance here a -- and for now that's probably enough to keep him atop the depth chart at this weight.

157: Logan Thomsen (6-1, 3rd place)

W, MAJ DEC (13-2), Sawyer Hoffman (Minnesota State-Mankato)
W, MAJ DEC (16-5), Chase Monger (St. Johns)
L, DEC (3-2), Patrick Rhoads (Iowa)
W, DEC (8-1), Tristan Zurfluh (Luther College)
W, MAJ DEC (20-4), Drew Wagenhoffer (Wartburg)
W, MAJ DEC (17-9), Elroy Perkin (Unatt. Wisconsin)
W, MAJ DEC (16-8), Patrick Rhoads (Iowa)

I admit -- when pondering the potential starters for Iowa at 157, Thomsen's name is not one to which I had given a lot of consideration.  And even with the understanding that we're taking results at this event with a grain of salt, given the competition, he still had one of the more head-turning performances of the day for Iowa.  Five of his six wins came via major decision (and the lone decision win was a point away from being a major decision), which is exactly the sort of mindset you want to see, particularly from a wrestler fighting for a spot.  He did lose to a teammate (Rhoads), but he avenged that loss (and then some) in the consolation finals.  I'd say his performance here was definitely earned Thomsen a few more opportunities.

157: Patrick Rhoads (4-2, 4th place)

W, DEC (8-4), Brad Dolezal (Unatt. Minnesota)
W, DEC (7-4), Aaron Engle (Cornell College)
W, DEC (3-2), Logan Thomsen (Iowa)
L, DEC (9-5), Yoanse Meijas (North Iowa Area CC)
W, DEC (11-10), Dylan Urbach (Unatt. Minnesota)
L, MAJ DEC (16-8), Logan Thomsen (Iowa)

Rhoads, not Thomsen, was the guy I had penciled in as a dark horse contender for the starting job at 157, but he didn't do much at the Luther Open to back up that belief.  All four of his wins came via decision, including two razor-thin decision victories (3-2 over Thomsen and 11-10 over Urbach).  He lost to Meijas and lost a lopsided major decision to Thomsen in their rematch.  Maybe he just had a bad tournament, but this was not the sort of performance you want to see if you're trying to crack a lineup.

165: Nick Moore (5-0, 1st place, CHAMPION)

W, MAJ DEC (17-3), Brandon Krone (Unatt. Minnesota)
W, MAJ DEC (16-4), Willie Anaya (Wisconsin-Whitewater)
W, MAJ DEC (21-7), Javier Reyes (Luther College)
W, FALL (3:59), Andrew Steiert (Wartburg)
W, DEC (3-2), Brandon Kingsley (Minnesota)

Five matches, five wins -- that's good.  Four bonus point wins -- that's better.  The narrow decision win over Kingsley is a bit of an eyebrow-raiser, but Kinglsey was one of the better non-Iowa wrestlers at the field and, stylistically, he's not one to open up much.  That said, he's probably not a potential All-America guy this season and those are the only guys you might be OK with seeing Nick Moore eke out a win like that.  Ultimately, though, Moore's season -- and career -- is going to be judged by what he does next March, not this November.

165: Logan McQuillen (0-2)

L, DEC (6-1), Blake Letney (Luther College)
L, DEC (6-4), Michael Maksimovic (Cornell College)

Well, that was bad.  McQuillen is deep on the depth chart and his showing here didn't do anything to change that.

174: Mike Evans (4-0, 1st place, CHAMPION)

W, TECH FALL (18-3), Nick Fuller (Wartburg)
W, BYE
W, FALL (4:03), Justin Kreiter (Luther College)
W, MAJ DEC (17-5), Ryan Harrington (Unatt. North Carolina?)
W, DEC (6-0), Alex Meyer (Iowa)

The 'Stache -- sadly wrestling sans stache yesterday -- put in a typically strong performance, lodging four wins and a title.  Three of the four wins came via bonus points and the lone decision win was against a teammate.  (As always, I try not to read a lot into most teammate v. teammate matches, because they can be cagey affairs since the wrestlers are usually so familiar with each other.)  This tournament didn't tell us anything new about Evans -- we already knew that he's a hammer against overmatched guys at 174.  The key for his season is going to be his results against the other guys in the Gang of Four at this weight (Logan Storley, Matt Brown, and Robert Kokesh).

174: Alex Meyer (4-1, 2nd place, RUNNER-UP)

W, TECH FALL (20-4), Garrett Kelsen (Coe College)
W, FALL (4:01), Ja'von Tolliver (Rochester)
W, FALL (4:23), George Gonzalez (Unatt. Wisconsin)
W, FALL (3:51), Jordan Rothers (???)
L, DEC (6-0), Mike Evans (Iowa)

Along with Thomsen at 157, Meyer was another guy who had a head-turning performance at the Luther Open.  We haven't heard too much from him, but he arrived as part of Iowa's highly touted Class of 2012 with Cory Clark, Thomas Gilman, and Sammy Brooks.  While those three have taken over starting spots in the lineup, Meyer has had to bide his time behind Evans.  But he's flashed enough to be intrigued by what he might bring to the lineup; I definitely think there's a good chance he replaces Evans as the starter next season.  Yesterday Meyer rolled through his non-Evans opponents (three falls and a tech fall is exactly the sort of performance you want to see at an event like this) and while he got blanked by Evans, there's not much shame in that -- Evans is a top-5 guy at 174.  Meyer is a very intriguing prospect and I'm eager to see what else he does this season.

174: Trevor Graves (0-2)

L, TECH FALL (16-0), Jordan Rothers (???)
L, MAJ DEC (17-3), Brett Roberts (Simpson College)

Two losses -- two bonus point losses, no less -- is a pretty rough showing.  Like McQuillen at 165, Graves is pretty far down the depth chart and this performance did nothing to change that.

184: Sammy Brooks (4-0, 1st place, CHAMPION)

W, BYE
W, TECH FALL (20-4), Robert Tait (St. Johns)
W, TECH FALL (22-7), Scott VanDeLoo (Minnesota State-Mankato)
W, FALL (4:10), Ryan Aprahamian (Wisconsin-Whitewater)
W, TECH FALL (18-3), Ryan Sheldon (Coe College)

Again, caveats about the level of competition should be noted before we get too worked up about Brooks' dominant showing here, but that said... I think we're really going to enjoy watching Sammy at 184 this season.  Brooks definitely has an aggressive, scoring mentality and he's going to bring a lot more action to his matches at 184 than we saw from Ethen Lofthouse the last few years; hopefully that attacking mindset also translates into plenty of wins. He's off to a good start.

197: Nathan Burak (4-0, 1st place, CHAMPION)

W, FALL (2:24), Chris Zimmer (Minnesota State-Mankato)
W, TECH FALL (22-6), Richard Briggs (Upper Iowa)
W, MAJ DEC (16-7), Donnie Horner (Coe College)
W, DEC (3-1 SV), Kris Klapprodt (Iowa)

Somewhat curiously, Nathan Burak was listed as an "unattached" Iowa wrestler on Saturday.  The distinction between "unattached" and "attached" is basically whether or not you're wrestling matches that count against your eligibility; if you're wrestling "unattached" they don't count.  Wrestlers who are redshirting during a season will wrestle as "unattached" when they compete at tournaments.  The fact that Burak apparently wrestled "unattached" yesterday might mean Iowa is at least keeping open the possibility of redshirting him this season (since he still has a redshirt year to use, if he chooses), but there's not much sense in redshirting him unless he's nursing an injury that's going to compromise his long-term effectiveness.  Iowa needs all hands on deck if they're going to contend for a national championship this season; the drop-off from Burak to Klapprodt at 197 is very likely too large for Iowa to manage if they want to bring the title back to Iowa City this year.  Burak was fine at the Open: four wins out of four matches, bonus points against everyone but Klapprodt, his teammate.

Kris Klapprodt (3-1, 2nd place, RUNNER-UP)

W, FALL (0:53), Wes Dodd (Ithaca)
W, MAJ DEC (15-7), Nathan Rose (Unatt. Minnesota)
W, DEC (6-0), Zach Tooley (Wisconsin-La Crosse)
L, DEC (3-1 SV), Nathan Burak (Iowa)

Klapprodt has become the definite second-string option at 197 with Broc Berge transferring away from Iowa and he looked solid at this tournament.  He won three of his four matches (two via bonus points) and his only loss was an OT defeat to his teammate (and Iowa's starter at 197), Burak.  No shame in that.  Klapprodt is primarily a depth option for Iowa, but he's developed nicely during his Iowa career.

285: Bobby Telford (4-0, 1st place, CHAMPION)

W, BYE
W, FALL (1:21), Mark Gadson (William Penn)
W, FALL (1:07), Kirk Owens (Coe College)
W, FALL (1:05), Benjamin Nagle (Wartburg)
W, MED FFT, Logan Hopp (Upper Iowa CC)

Bobby spent barely more than one entire period (3:33 combined) on the mat yesterday.  That's, uh, good.  Telford mowed through the three opponents he did face and won the finals match via medical forfeit.  It's not clear if Bobby even broke a sweat in competition yesterday.  Of course, we already knew that Bobby can maul lesser heavyweights.  The big question for Bobby is whether or not he can score those elusive takedowns against the top guys at 285 -- we'll find out the answer to that question later in the year.

SILVER

141: Logan Ryan (5-0, 1st place, CHAMPION)

W, MAJ DEC (17-5), Jared Brathor (Cornell College)
W, MAJ DEC (17-7), Levi Azinger (Coe College)
W, DEC (9-4), Eric Clarke (Wartburg)
W, FALL (2:33), Taylor Lehman (North Iowa Area CC)
W, DEC (2-1 OT), Seth Gross (Unatt. Iowa)

Seth Gross (4-1, 2nd place, RUNNER-UP)

W, TECH FALL (20-2), Nashid Barrow (Buena Vista)
W, FALL (0:58), Dakota Huss (Hannibal-La Grange)
W, TECH FALL (19-3), Tyler Dion (Iowa Lakes CC)
W, DEC (8-2), Gannon Volk (Unatt. Minnesota)
L, DEC (2-1 OT), Logan Ryan (Unatt. Iowa)

I would have liked to see what Ryan and Gross could do against slightly better competition here -- even the DIII/JUCO-level starters in the Elite Division would have been more interesting -- but they did fine here.  Both Ryan and Gross are true freshmen so they're looking at redshirts this season, but both figure to be right in the thick of the race to man the starting spot at 141 next year (along with Topher Carton).  At the moment they look fairly evenly matched -- Gross had the slightly more impressive wins here (two technical falls and a quick pinfall), but Ryan did win the head-to-head showdown.  This was a perfectly fine way for both guys to kick off their Iowa careers.

174: Burke Paddock (4-0, 1st place, CHAMPION)

W, BYE
W, MAJ DEC (18-6), Tyler Vogt (Rochester CC)
W, DEC (6-1), Colton Carlson (Unatt. Minnesota)
W, DEC (4-2), Colin Carr (Unatt. ???)
W, FALL (3:28), Thurston Schuster (Wisconsin-La Crosse)

Paddock wrestled 174 yesterday, and like Gross and Ryan, he's also a true freshman this season, so he's staring at a redshirt campaign.  (In fact, everyone who competed in the "Silver" division for Iowa was a true freshman.)  While he wrestled 174 yesterday, there's also been talk of him wrestling at 165 and it would make sense if he was able to compete at that weight next year -- Alex Meyer might be able to fill in at 174 for Mike Evans next year, but there's no obvious replacement for Nick Moore at 165.  In any event, Paddock had a nice debut for Iowa, going 4-0 and capping things off with a pin in the finals.

184: Mitch Bowman (3-1, 2nd place, RUNNER-UP)

W, BYE
W, FALL (4:12), Ben Wallace (North Iowa Area CC)
W, DEC (6-1), Wouvel Chevelon (Iowa Lakes CC)
W, FALL (0:15), Corey Abernathy (Unatt. Minnesota)
L, FALL (1:57), Wesley Schultz (Unatt. Rochester CC)

Bowman had a nice tournament going... 'til the finals.  Whoops.  The future at 184 looks pretty secure with Sammy Brooks, so Iowa isn't likely to be reliant on Bowman in the near future.

285: Sam Stoll (4-0, 1st place, CHAMPION)

W, FALL (0:45), Matthew Cuthbert (Unatt. William Penn)
W, FALL (2:04), Guy Henson (Iowa Lakes CC)
W, FALL (2:50), Tyler Yonkovic (Wartburg)
W, FALL (1:09), Luke Destiche (Unatt. Minnesota)

Of all the guys who competed in the "Silver" division, Stoll is the one guy I was most curious to see in action.  He was a pinning machine in high school and he's the heir apparent to Telford at heavyweight.  We need to see him in action against better opposition, obviously, but so far he's keeping up his pin machine reputation quite nicely.  Stoll could be a very fun one to watch for the next few years.

285: Lance Evans (4-1, 3rd place)

W, TECH FALL (17-0), Alex Hermes (Iowa Lakes CC)
W, DEC (4-0), Seamus Hunter (Itasca)
L, DEC (7-4), Luke Destiche (Unatt. Minnesota)
W, DEC 6-0), Guy Henson (Iowa Lakes CC)
W, DEC (3-2), Tyler Yonkovic (Wartburg)

Evans was the other heavyweight recruit that Iowa brought in this year and while he doesn't have the pedigree that Stoll does (nor the expectations), he could be a nice guy to develop in the Iowa room for a while.  He had a solid debut at the Luther Open (four wins, 3rd place finish), but it certainly wasn't as eye-catching as Stoll's pinfest.

NEXT: Iowa returns to action on Friday at the Iowa City Duals. There will be pins.