The Hawkeyes are 5-13 in one- or two-point matches in duals this year, and 2-11 since the start of December (includes the Iowa State, Chattanooga, Illinois, and Purdue duals). Penn State, meanwhile, is 4-6 in that span (includes Lehigh, Oregon State, North Carolina, Central Michigan, Iowa State, and Wisconsin). Iowa State went 4-1 in close matches with Iowa, and 3-0 against Penn State, to their credit. It’s worth pointing out that not only does Penn State have a much higher winning percentage since December (.154 vs .400), but they’ve also wrestled way fewer matches (.325 of matches for Iowa vs .167 for Penn State) against better opponents. Iowa needs to find a way to win when they need to, and that’s been a recurring problem for a couple years now. I have a rule about not complaining after championships (3 years for a title, plus a half a year for playoff berths and a year for title game appearances), but the issue is too obvious to ignore for the Hawkeyes. And I’m spoiled, dammit.
#9 Ohio State 26, Indiana 13
Atinat: While this may seem closer than expected, there weren’t any eye-popping individual matches here. Rather, Indiana won both close matches (at 125 and 157) and twice kept an extra team point off the board by a few match points (a 14-point major at 133 and a 6-point decision at 174). It’s possible that Indiana is just a little better than we thought, and Ohio State might be a little worse. Of course, it’s worth noting that Ohio State sent backups at 125 and 197 and both lost.
In ranked match results, #15 Jesse Mendez majored #32 Henry Porter 20-6, #17 Dyland D’Emilio majored #33 Cayden Rooks 10-2, #4 Sammy Sasso pinned #33 Graham Rooks in 0:53, #20 Derek Gilcher defeated #18 Paddy Gallagher 5-4, #8 Ethan Smith defeated #18 DJ Washington 10-4, and #31 Jacob Bullock dominated #15 Tate Orndorff 7-2.
#1 Penn State 28, #13 Wisconsin 11
Kind of…: Since there was not chance of beating PSU in the dual, it was easy just to step back and enjoy the fireworks, of which there were plenty. Bonus points in eight matches! Barnett overwhelmed Gary Steen. Hamiti looked a bit workmanlinke despite rolling to an 18-6 MD at 165. And Austin Gomez eased his way to a 6-2 win over Shayne Van Ness, who I believe was the #1 overall recruit in the class of ‘21.
The bad news, and not just for UW, but for everybody, is that PSU is probably even better than anticipated. RBY (133), Starocci (174), Brooks (184), and Dean (197) were all champs last year, and known quantities. Kerkvliet (285) is ranked #1, and pretty much a lock for the semis, at least. But that was all expected. Beau Bartlett (141) is sitting at #4 in a pretty weak weight. You could just see that Van Ness is going to be really good, really soon at 149. Frosh Levi Haines (157) rolled to an MD over Garrett Model, and looks like he could be an All-American this year. And while Alex Facundo (165) didn’t go against Hamiti, he’s off to a 9-1 start and the only loss was 4-2 to David Carr, who has won a national title. That’s potentially nine All-Americans this year. The all-time record of 170 team points at the NCAA’s (Iowa, 1997, in Gable’s last year as coach) is a ridiculous number and probably safe, but Penn State’s all-time high of 146.5 (in 2017) seems totally in play.
#2 Iowa 25, #28 Illinois 19
Atinat: Holy cow, that sucked. Dominate performances by Lee, Murin, Kennedy, and Cassioppi were great highlights for Iowa, but Schriever looked non-competitive, Woods didn’t wrestle and Bennett hardly did in his stead, Siebrecht looked as shocked as all of us by Mikey Carr’s return, and Warner was lulled to sleep by Braunagel. There are some rumors about illness in the camp (Woods and Kennedy didn’t make the trip to Purdue, allegedly), but there is a trend of Iowa wrestlers failing to win close matches that certainly showed up in the back-end of this one. See above, because I wrote that after.
#7 Northwestern 18, #8 Minnesota 11
Kind of…: Yes, the score in right. The only way to have fewer than 30 team point scored in a college dual is either teams getting docked points for bad behavior or...ugh...a double forfeit. The meet had the latter, and at the most anticipate weight as neither #3 Michael DeAugustino nor #4 Patrick McKee made it to the mat. Grrr...
Still, minor upsets abounded, and it was an entertaining dual that was in doubt until the last match. It started at 165, and Maxx Mayfield used a last second takedown to upset #22 Andrew Sparks and draw first blood for the Wildcats. However, Bailee O’Reilly and Isaiah Salzar both rang up MDs for the Gophers and then #30 Michial Foy pulled the minor upset over #27 Andrew Davison and it was 11-3 Minnesota. #4 Lucas Davison sent the Wildcats into intermission with some momentum with a 4-1 win at HWT.
After intermission, and the double forfeit, Northwestern turned it on. #11 Chris Cannon over #22 Aaron Nagao at 133; #15 Frankie Tal-Shahar upsetting #10 Jakob Bergeland at 141; #5 Yahya Thomas over #15 Michael Blockhus at 149; and the coup de grace, #16 Trevor Chumbley over #8 Brayton Lee, to cinch the dual for Northwestern. I thought the Wildcats would need a DeAugustino win to pull off the dual, and I was already high on their squad. Really impressive season setting up in Evanston.
#2 Iowa 37, Purdue 6
Atinat: Ah, the palate cleanser. After the bed-shitting that was Friday night, it was nice to see all ten Hawkeyes show up. Of course, since only nine Boilermakers did, Cassioppi didn’t have to wrestle. The dual started with fireworks, as Spencer Lee was taken down twice by #8 Matt Ramos, first by a body lock shuck, and the second by a throw; and taken briefly to his back. Lee rallied, tilting and eventually pinning his Boilermaker foe. Body Teske, in his first match since November, would also start a little slow before piling it onto the Purdue 133er, racking up points in a 16-4 major decision. Murin also threw up lots of points, getting a tech fall early into the third, and Abe Assad pinned his opponent in the second period. Warner earned a major, and the aforementioned Cassioppi got 6 points just for showing up. Usually he has to lay on a guy for two minutes first.
Cullan Schriever bumped up to 141 in lieu of Real Woods, but couldn’t handle the #15-ranked senior Parker Filius, losing 6-2. Iowa’s other loss came from Caleb Rathjen, the 149-pound backup, who lost just 3-2 to third-ranked Kendall Coleman; and the remaining Hawkeyes won confortable decisions.
#28 Illinois 18, #13 Wisconsin 17
Kind of…: It’s not fun to lose, but it seems clear that winning duals is less and less important in college wrestling. No Austin Gomez at 149 probably cost UW 1-3 bonus points. 141 has turned into a mess. I would’ve assume Felix Lettini went because Joey Zargo was banged up, but then Zargo went at 149 with the dual on the line in the last bout. Zargo won (but needed a TF), so I have no idea if Lettini beat him in practice or what. But Lettini got pinned in the third period and that was the difference in the dual.
Eric Barnett maybe should’ve gotten at least an MD at 125, but not going to harp on that too much. Braxton Amos losing ANOTHER close match to Zach Braunagel has to eat at him, but, you now, try wrestling all seven minutes. Sweet takedown in the first was all for naught. Announcer made the totally fair point that Amos would be perfect for a 215/220 lb. weight class, but so would a lot of other guys. I think he’s just destined to be a lot better at Greco-Roman (and probably freestyle) than folkstyle.
Dean Hamiti pitching a 15-0 TF shutout over #11 Danny Braunagel was pretty sweet, though, especially since there was o scoring in the first period and then Hamiti just went to town. Too bad he’s in the toughest weight in the country this year. If he could cut down to 157—he can’t—he’d win the title.
Indiana 17, #18 Maryland 16 (on criteria)
Atinat: Damn. It came down to the wire, and ultimately, it was Graham Rooks and the Indiana Hoosiers who came out on top. The dual started at 157 pounds, and Indiana quickly jumped out to a 9-3 team score lead. While they didn’t grab any bonus points in their three one-sided decisions, they did build a total match point lead that would ultimately hand them a dual victory. The Smith brothers, Jaxon and Jaron, brought the dual back to even, and Braxton Brown put Maryland on top for the first time with an grinding 9-0 major decision. That extra team point was huge, but was immediately matched by Henry Porter’s 14-4 major, breaking down Maryland’s Conner Quinn at 133 pounds.
So the dual went to the final two weights, with Kal and Ethen Miller of the Terrapins facing Cayden and Graham Rooks of Indiana. Kal pushed forward and worked through surrendering a takedown to force sudden victory, and after a pair of unsuccessful shots by each, Kal finally earned the decisive takedown to put Maryland up with one match to go. Ethen, like his brother Kal, gave up the first takedown, but could not level the score in the final period, eventually giving up a merkle takedown to solidify the match. I couldn’t disagree with the call more, but even if it wasn’t a takedown, it burned enough time off the clock to ice the match. And so the dual score was tied, and thanks to the lopsided victories at the beginning dual, Indiana took the victory on the total match points tiebreaker. Maryland was unable to get their first Big Ten victory in seven years, and suddenly, along with their Southern Scuffle performance, their carriage has returned to its pumpkin state.
#4 Michigan defeats Cal Poly, CSU-Bakersfield
Atinat: Michigan dropped three matches to the Mustangs and none to the Roadrunners in their weekend trip to Cali. While that may sound like a successful journey, two of those three losses were upsets, with #20 Cole Mattin and #31 Joseph Walker each suffering losses. #20 Chance Lamer did get a victory over #18 Dom Demas at 149 pounds, though it came in a tight match (5-4 Lamer with Demas getting option in the third) due to an injury default for concussion protocol. Also, Walker lost to a THIRD Lamer, Brawley Lamer, 6-1. Brawley is a senior with a career losing record, so that’s not a great loss.
#30 Michigan State 28, Bucknell 9
Atinat: Michigan State dropped three matches to the Bison, none of which involved any ranked wrestlers. In related news, Peyton Omania is not ranked (and certainly will not be).
#17 Nebraska sweeps Gardner-Webb, Campbell
Atinat: Bubba Wilson lost in sudden victory and Boo Dryden lost a one-point decision in the win over the Bulldogs, and backup Alex Thomsen and heavyweight Cale Davidson lost matches against the Camels. I do not care about this.
#21 Rutgers holds serve against Bloomsburg and Rider
Atinat: The boys from New Jersey blanked the Huskies and blasted the other boys from New Jersey in their final non-conference duals of the year. There isn’t a ton to say, but Rutgers did get an upset from Devon Britton, the 133-pound backup who wrestled up a weight and defeated #29 McKenzie Bell of Rider. Rider’s star Ethan Laird was also held to a regular decision. The great weekend for the Scarlet Knights was spoiled as heavyweight Boone McDermott had to injury default out of the final match, twisting his left leg after starting the second period on bottom and eventually calling the match after the period ended. Hopefully it’s nothing major, and the big guy can come back for the conference schedule.