I'm not inclined to put very much energy into this recap because, frankly, Iowa didn't look like they were inclined to put very much energy into their wrestling tonight. Iowa sleepwalked to a ho-hum 22-9 win over Michigan tonight, winning seven matches to Michigan's three and recording bonus points in just one match (133). I lost track of how many matches ended with 0-0 first periods and for the most part Iowa wrestlers seemed disinclined to do more than just enough to get by. So much for putting on a show for Senior Night.
If you're inclined to panic, you'd probably say Iowa peaked too early this season and is running out of gas as the finish line nears. If you're of a more optimistic bent, you'd probably say Iowa was conserving energy against an overmatched opponent. I don't know which interpretation is right and, honestly, we won't really be able to judge this Iowa team for another five weeks, after the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments have come and gone and trophies have been awarded. On present form, Iowa doesn't look like as likely as they did a few weeks ago to be bringing those trophies back to Iowa City... but, again, it was just a few weeks ago that Iowa was looking very good indeed. Things can -- and often do -- change in a hurry. But it sure would be nice to see them kick some ass and look impressive again.
Thomas Gilman got things started for Iowa and in hindsight maybe it was a bad omen that the wrestler who's been Iowa's sparkplug to start duals (at least when he's not facing a top-10 opponent) shuffled to a 6-1 win. Gilman was never really in danger against Youtsey, but he also never seemed to get out of second gear himself. Cory Clark was one of the few Iowa wrestlers who seemed raring to go tonight -- he no doubt had some pent-up energy to unleash after his recent losses and he let it out on Michigan back-up Zebulon Hilyard. Clark had four takedowns in the first period, then spent the rest of the match working for back points -- which he finally got in the third period. Josh Dziewa fended off several early shots at 141 before finally -- and slo-o-o-o-wly -- turning the corner and getting a takedown of his own in the second period. An escape and some back points helped him coast to a 6-0 win.
Brandon Sorensen pushed Iowa's lead in the dual to 13-0 after a grind-out 2-1 win courtesy of an escape and riding time. Sorensen's opponent, Alec Pantaleo, seemed interested only in keeping the match close and engaging as little as possible; for reasons that remain inexplicable he avoided any stall warnings. Sorensen needs to be do more to find ways to score in matches like that, but it is tough when the opponent is so unwilling to engage and the referee lets him get away with that approach. Mike Kelly continued his recent funk with a 7-2 loss to Brian Murphy. It wasn't an upset -- Murphy was the one Michigan wrestler in the dual ranked higher than his opponent -- but it continued a very sluggish run of form for Kelly; he had trouble keeping Murphy off his legs all night and wasn't able to do much from his feet.
Nick Moore got a second crack at a wrestler named Garrett in this dual and unlike his loss a week ago (to G. Hammond), he was victorious this week (against G. Sutton). Sutton was more aggressive early, but Nick Moore looked tough to stop when he finally committed to his own offense. As usual, the issue was the fact that it took him so long to do just that. Mike Evans tacked on another win for Iowa at 174, storming back to an 8-3 win after going down 2-1 early to Salazar, a 157er wrestling up two weights. Salazar showed no fear despite wrestling up two weights and facing a top-5 guy; frankly, this would have been a far more entertaining dual meet if more guys had wrestled with his spirit.
184 featured the biggest disappointment of the night, as Sammy Brooks fell to Michigan's Domenic Abounader, 3-2, after giving up a takedown in the final 20 seconds of the third period. Abounader showed some good defense at times (Brooks seemed to have him dead to rights on a blast double at one point, only for Abounader to hip out of it), but he also stalled his ass off, hugged the edge, and wasted time getting back to the center of the mat for much of the match -- all without any penalty from the ref. Brooks was hardly at his sharpest in this match, though, and like so many Iowa wrestlers tonight, seemed to struggle to commit to his offense for too much of the match.
Nathan Burak and Max Huntley wrestled 7 largely uneventful minutes at 197 -- with the exception being a tremendous example of Burak wriggling out of danger when Huntley was in deep on a leg near the edge -- before Burak dug into his bag of late takedown tricks and scored off a tremendous blast double leg in sudden victory (it was so good he was able to take Huntley straight to his back and get a pair of nearfall points, in fact). That left the heavyweight showdown between Coon and Telford and while it was marginally better than some of their previous snoozers, it was still nothing to write home about. Telford got to Coon's legs on a handful of occasions -- most notably in sudden victory, when he was in deep and had Coon's leg elevated -- but wasn't able to finish thanks to a combination of Coon's strong defense (he's one of the few heavyweights with limbs as long as Telford's, which seems to cause Bobby some problems) and Bobby's inability to find that extra burst of energy needed to finish off those shots. It was a frustrating performance in a night full of frustrating performances. Let's hope for a more commanding performance out of Iowa against Virginia on Sunday.
Oh, and with the win Iowa finished 9-0 in Big Ten dual meets this season and clinched the outright Big Ten dual meet championship. Hooray.
#1 IOWA 22, #16 MICHIGAN 9
125: #5 Thomas Gilman DEC (6-1) #20 Conor Youtsey (IOWA 3-0)
133: #7 Cory Clark MAJ DEC (14-3) UN Zebulon Hilyard (IOWA 7-0)
141: #6 Josh Dziewa DEC (6-0) UN George Fisher (IOWA 10-0)
149: #2 Brandon Sorensen DEC (2-1) #13 Alec Pantaleo (IOWA 13-0)
157: #10 Brian Murphy DEC (7-2) #14 Mike Kelly (IOWA 13-3)
165: #12 Nick Moore DEC (6-1) UN Garrett Sutton (IOWA 16-3)
174: #3 Mike Evans DEC (8-3) UN Jake Salazar (IOWA 19-3)
184: #12 Domenic Abounader DEC (3-2) #8 Sammy Brooks (IOWA 19-6)
197: #6 Nathan Burak DEC (5-1 SV) #8 Max Huntley (IOWA 22-6)
285: #7 Adam Coon DEC (3-2 OT) #2 Bobby Telford (IOWA 22-9)
NEXT: Iowa returns to action at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday (1 PM CT, streaming TBD) against #13 Virginia in a regional match for the NWCA National Duals.