NOTE: Once again, a hearty THANK YOU to the Patriot League Network powered by Campus Insiders for providing us with that excellent live stream on Friday night. The quality was excellent and we're very thankful to have the opportunity to host it on BHGP. If you want to express your thanks personally, I might suggest sending your thank you notes to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Iowa headed east for their second dual meet in Pennsylvania this season and, for the second time this year, they picked up a win in the Keystone State. This victory was quite a bit easier than the win over Edinboro in December (22-19), as Iowa used four bonus point wins in five matches to open up an enormous lead on their way to a 31-6 overall victory, their 25th straight dual meet win over Lehigh.
The meet began with two close matches; Thomas Gilman found himself down early against Darian Cruz, before battling back with a pair of takedowns and a pair of strong rides in the final two periods. Ramos fought a cagey match against a top-10 opponent and his first-period takedown proved to be the difference in the match. Lehigh's fortunes picked up in the next two matches, though. Josh Dziewa once again managed to lose despite a solid early lead, yet again failing to record an escape in the second period. Michael Kelly, subbing for regular starter Brody Grothus at 149, couldn't do much of anything on offense, but did manage to keep Mitch Minotti from running up the score.
149 was the last match where things went well for Lehigh, though. The other spotlight match of the night (after Ramos vs. Beckman at 133) was supposed to be St John vs. Joey Napoli at 157. Alas, Napoli sat out with an injury and his backup was no match for DSJ, whose technical fall kicked off a run of Iowa bonus point victories. After intermission, Nick Moore joined the bonus point party with a rock solid major decision victory. Mike Evans seemed keen to get his own bonus point victory on the board, but he couldn't get Elliot Riddick on the mat to do any real damage. For his part, Riddick seemed more interested in hugging the out of bounds line than doing any real wrestling. Sammy Brooks followed Evans' ugly 2-0 win with the most dominant performance of the night, a 16-0 thrashing in just four minutes. Nathan Burak added another technical fall win for the Hawkeyes before Bobby Telford ended the evening with an easy 6-0 decision win at 285.
All in all, it's hard to know how much to take from this victory. Iowa wrestled four ranked wrestlers in this dual and went 2-2. One of those losses came from Mike Kelly, a 149er who is unlikely to wrestle any meaningful matches for Iowa this year. Dziewa's loss was a disappointment, though, and a second-straight middling performance from him is a troubling sign heading into March. Nor did Iowa look that great in their wins over ranked opponents; Ramos won, but he couldn't get much offense going and the match ended up resembling his past battles with the likes of Tyler Graff and Jon Morrison. Mike Evans' match was just weird, frankly. And in the other matches Iowa largely dominated overmatched opponents -- that's nice, but not terribly instructive.
#3 IOWA 31, #21 LEHIGH 6
125: #5 Thomas Gilman DEC (6-2) Darian Cruz (IOWA 3-0)
133: #3 Tony Ramos DEC (3-1) #6 Mason Beckman (IOWA 6-0)
141: #14 Laike Gardner DEC (5-2) #9 Josh Dziewa (IOWA 6-3)
149: #13 Mitch Minotti DEC (4-1) UN Michael Kelly (TIED 6-6)
157: #2 Derek St. John TECH FALL (21-6) UN Michael Stepien (IOWA 11-6)
165: #4 Nick Moore MAJ DEC (11-2) UN Ben Hass (IOWA 15-6)
174: #5 Mike Evans DEC (2-0) #12 Elliot Riddick (IOWA 18-6)
184: UN Sammy Brooks TECH FALL (16-0) UN Zach Diekel (IOWA 23-6)
197: #14 Nathan Burak TECH FALL (18-1) UN Austin Meys (IOWA 28-6)
285: #3 Bobby Telford DEC (6-0) UN Doug Vollaro (IOWA 31-6)
125: Thomas Gilman got his first start since getting pinned by Sam Brancale in the Minnesota dual and yet again he gave up a first-period takedown. His response to going down early was strong, but he still needs to work on building leads and extending his margin of victory in matches like this.
133: Beckman is a tough wrestler, but it sure doesn't feel like a Tony Ramos match when there's only one takedown. To his credit, he was close to converting takedowns on a few other occasions, but this still didn't quite look like the Tony Ramos we've come to know and love. So it goes.
141: This match was eerily similar to Dziewa's capitulation against Steve Dutton in the Michigan dual last Sunday. Getting a first period takedown and building a riding time advantage? Check. Getting ridden for the entire second period? Check. Giving up a third-period takedown? Check. Dziewa has just one more match before the Big Ten Tournamen; he's certainly not entering that tournament without any semblance of positive momentum or confidence. It's hard to expect much out of this weight right now, which is a big blow to Iowa's title aspirations.
149: Credit to Kelly for fighting off several takedown attempts from Minotti (although, inevitably, he couldn't fight them all off), but he again struggled mightily to get any sort of offense going himself. Barring any injuries, this is probably the last time we see Mike Kelly wrestle for Iowa this season.
157: A battle with Napoli would have been another strong test for DSJ, but it's not like he needed another top 10-level opponent after the gauntlet he's been running the last month or so. Instead, DSJ got a backup and got an opportunity to practice his attacks. Mission accomplished.
165: A workmanlike major decision from Nick Moore, much like we've seen out of him for the past few weeks. Nick Moore seems to be wrestling with confidence, which is reflected in the assertive and decisive shots he's been attempting lately; they're a far cry from the tentative half-shots he took so often a year ago. He also seems to be out of position very rarely, which is a great step forward. Hass wasn't the most challenging opponent, but Moore did take care of business pretty easily -- not bad.
174: A very strange match. Evans' weaknesses from neutral were again apparent, but it was also difficult to do much of anything against an opponent that was so content to hug the mat or the out-of-bounds line or tie-up when given half a chance. Riddick didn't seem to have much interest in actually wrestling Evans. That's a problem for The 'Stache because he tends to score most frequently on counters or scrambles off opponents' shots. It would have been nice to see a few more stall calls here, given how little Riddick did in this entire match.
184: Another match, another bonus point victory for Sammy Brooks. Brooks again got the nod for Iowa while Ethen Lofthouse rested his knee and yet again he made a pretty compelling argument that he should be the starter in effortlessly dismantling Zach Diekel in this match. He took Diekel down easily, then used a series of suicide tilts to build a massive lead. Diekel isn't an impressive opponent, but Brooks' takedowns were crisp and he spent time on the mat looking to score points, not just waste time. Brooks certainly seems to have the aggressive mindset that Iowa coaches (and fans) crave. With every passing impressive win, I start to wonder more and more if Brooks shouldn't keep the job this year -- especially if Lofthouse isn't 100% and isn't going to be 100% in time for the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments. A healthy Lofthouse probably has a better chance of advancing deeper in those tournaments, but a 75% Lofthouse? I'm not sure about that. It's an interesting dilemma for sure.
197: Burak was another Iowa wrestler who got to face a backup wrestler, with Austin Meys wrestling up a weight to face Burak. Meys was game for about a period, but he seemed to run out of steam after that and the final two periods were a never-ending stream of takedowns and back points from Burak on his way to a technical fall. Hopefully this match was just what the doctor ordered for Burak, who had been looking a big stagnant in terms of offense the last few matches; Meys wasn't indicative of the sort of opponent Burak will see the rest of the season, but perhaps this performance will give Burak some more confidence in his own offensive abilities.
285: Finally, Telford ended the night with an easy 6-0 win. He also got to face a backup and he took care of business, cruising to a comfortable decision win. He even got two takedowns, which, by heavyweight standards, is quite an offensive frenzy.
NEXT: iowa heads to Madison next Sunday to close out the dual meet season with a battle with the Badgers.