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CALL IT A RALLY: IOWA 18, OHIO STATE 14

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Iowa rallies from a big hole against Ohio State to keep their dual record unblemished.

For the second time in a week, an Iowa team went into Columbus to take on a top 10-ranked Ohio State team -- and for the second time in a week, an Iowa team beat a top 10-ranked Ohio State team.  So that was fun.

The way Iowa got that win, though, was anything but normal.  Iowa won the first match of the dual, at 125... and then lost four of the next five matches, including a 15-0 technical fall at 141.  Iowa trailed 14-6 after six matches and things were looking bleak.  Then Iowa went and won the last four matches of the dual, snatching victory from the Buckeyes and claiming an 18-14 dual win.  It's a little odd to see an Iowa team being carried by its upper weight wrestlers... but that's where we are this year.  Iowa's best wrestlers (and their best bets at making finals appearances) are probably Mike Evans at 174 and Bobby Telford at 285, with Sammy Brooks (184) not far behind them and Nathan Burak looking like a solid All-American option at 197.

The meet began at 125, where Thomas Gilman and Nathan Tomasello engaged in nine minutes of not-so-thrilling wrestling.  Gilman won the match in 2OT by getting an escape and then holding Tomasello down for 30 seconds; not exactly gripping stuff.  Gilman's lack of offense in matches against top-tier opponents is really becoming a concern.  Iowa's lead in the dual was short-lived, though, as Cory Clark dropped a tight decision at Jonni DiJulius at 133.  DiJulius exploded out of the gate in the first period, notching two takedowns (and nearly a third).  He added to that in the second; that hole was too big for Clark to escape.  Little mistakes killed Clark in this match -- he gave up a takedown at the edge near the end of the first period and gave up an escape in the final seconds of the second period, after riding DiJulius hard up 'til that point.  Those three points loomed large in a match he lost by two points. He spent a lot of time in tie-ups and trying to get around DiJulius, which played to the OSU wrestler's strengths. This was a frustrating loss for Clark (his first of the season), but with a smarter gameplan, he can absolutely beat DiJulius in a rematch.

There's not much to say at 141.  I thought Dziewa might be able to limit the damage against Stieber; I was very wrong.  He did avoid getting pinned, but that was the only good news -- Stieber took him down with ease in the first period and put on a clinic from the top position for the rest of the match, tilting Dziewa for easy nearfall points on several occasions.  Stieber is very, very good, but this was still a fairly embarrassing performance from a fifth-year senior.  Fortunately, 149 turned things around for Iowa.  Like the previous two matches, the first period went poorly for Iowa -- Sorensen trailed 4-2 heading into the second after giving up a couple of frustrating takedowns.  Hunter Stieber still doesn't look fully fit from the elbow/shoulder injuries he's been dealing with this year, though, and his cardio is definitely not up to snuff; Sorensen's relentless attacks finally wore down Stieber and he scored three takedowns in the third period to take the match.

Iowa's turnaround was short-lived, though, as Josh Demas knocked off Mike Kelly in the final match before intermission.  This match went almost exactly as I expected: Kelly turned it into a brawl and did a nice job of workin the tie-ups and keeping it tight, but he had no answer for Demas' quickness -- an explosive takedown for Demas was the turning point in the match.  Demas added a second takedown near the end when Kelly went for a desperation takedown of his own.  Ohio State's momentum kept up after intermission, with super-frosh Bo Jordan wrestling his first match in two months and adding to Nick Moore's recent woes.  Per the rankings this was an upset, but... sometimes rankings lie.  Jordan is flat-out better than Nick Moore, unfortunately.  Moore had no answer for Jordan's strength and speed in the first period and while Jordan's stamina seemed a little lacking after that, Moore wasn't able to finish his own attacks and eat into Jordan's lead.  This was a frustrating loss, but Jordan is also probably going to be a top-4 guy at this weight.

After 165, though, business began to pick up for the Hawkeyes.  Mike Evans got the rally started at 174 with a typical Mike Evans match: lots of hard riding on the mat, lots of hand-fighting in neutral, and not a lot of takedowns.  Evans gave up the first takedown, but turned things around quickly in the second period with an escape and a takedown of his own.  A reversal in the third period sealed up the win, but it would sure be nice to see more bonus points out of Evans.  Sammy Brooks kept things rolling for Iowa with a closer-than-expected 3-2 win at 184.  Brooks was aggressive early and got a quick takedown, but it was frustrating to see him fail to build on that lead.  That match was far closer than it needed to be in the third period.

197 looked like a pivotal match before the dual and it ended up being just that as things played out in the dual.  With Iowa heavily favored at 285 (which Bobby Telford duly won, 4-0, in a workmanlike performance), the outcome of the dual hinged on the match at 197.  If super-frosh Kyle Snyder won, Ohio State would likely win (unless Telford could get a pin in the final match).  But if Iowa could win, the Hawkeyes would take a 1-point lead into the final match of the dual.  The match also featured the long-awaited official Iowa season debut of Nathan Burak, ending the speculation about whether or not he would redshirt.  It was a tense match, one that didn't play out as expected.  Both Snyder and Burak are generally more comfortable on their feet than on the mat.... so of course Snyder was able to put a hard ride on Burak for over a minute in the second period.  And of course Burak ended up winning thanks to a pair of escapes.  The scoring in the match was odd and difficult to understand, though; I didn't realize what had happened until Andy Hamilton cleared things up:

After a wrestler takes injury time, the other wrestler is given the choice of which position he wants when the match resumes; Burak apparently chose down and was able to get an escape.  That additional escape proved critical.  But yeah: very weird match.

In all, though, it was a very weird dual.  Iowa won two matches without scoring any takedowns at all (125, 197) and they notched just six takedowns in the six matches that they won -- three of those coming from Sorensen at 149.  In fact, they finished just six takedowns across all ten matches in the dual.  Iowa scored just one takedown (from Sammy Brooks) in the first period of a match.  That proved to be just enough offense to win today, but it's not a winning strategy in the long term.  Iowa wrestlers need to be scoring more points and they need to be finishing more takedowns, especially early in matches.  Still, it's happier to learn those lessons in a win than in a loss and wins over Ohio State are always appreciated.

#2 Iowa 18, #7 Ohio State 14

125: #4 Thomas Gilman DEC (2-1 2OT) #8 Nathan Tomasello (IOWA 3-0)
133: #9
Jonni DiJulius DEC (7-5) #4 Cory Clark (TIE 3-3)
141: #1
Logan Stieber TECH FALL (15-0) #6 Josh Dziewa (OHIO STATE 8-3)
149: #10
Brandon Sorensen DEC (9-7) #5 Hunter Stieber (OHIO STATE 8-6)
157: #6
Josh Demas DEC (5-2) UN Michael Kelly (OHIO STATE 11-6)
165: #9
Bo Jordan DEC (9-2) #7 Nick Moore (OHIO STATE 14-6)
174: #2
Mike Evans DEC (5-2) #12 Mark Martin (OHIO STATE 14-9)
184: #8
Sammy Brooks DEC (3-2) #12 Kenny Courts (OHIO STATE 14-12)
197: #6
Nathan Burak DEC (2-1) #7 Kyle Snyder (IOWA 15-14)
285: #3
Bobby Telford DEC (4-0) #10 Nick Tavanello (IOWA 18-14)

Iowa returns to action next Sunday in Stillwater against longtime rivals Oklahoma State.