#5 Nebraska Cornhuskers 25, #19 Arizona State 15
Kind of...: I said 24-12 Nebraska and the Huskers won 25-15 so, yeah, I’m taking a bow on this one. I was right to take Cronin over Courtney at 125, in an unusual 7-1 victory in SV. NOBODY saw Brock Hardy losing to ASU’s backup at 141, and that’s the only bout I missed on.
So, let’s focus on Nebraska. The Huskers lost to Iowa 34-6, and I’d favor Iowa in a rematch something like 21-12. However, there’s a reasonable chance (say 33%) that Nebraska outscores Iowa at the B1G and or NCAA championships. Lenny Pinto (184) and SIlas Allred (197) are both coming on strong, and Liam Cronin looks like the best non-Spencer Lee 125-er in the B1G. That said, you don’t want to be at your best in mid-February, or even early March, so Nebraska still has to prove it. But they’re worth watching, and seem very likely to score a team podium/trophy.
#2 Iowa Hawkeyes 28, #10 Oklahoma State 7
Atinat: Ha! I predicted a close dual, and this was anything but. Starting at 165, Iowa won the first 6 matches to take a 21-0 lead before the Cowboys could sniff the scoreboard. A Daton Fix major (that was deceptively close) and a tiebreaker win for Gfeller were all that Okie State got, as Iowa capitalized on all their opportunities and went 4-1 in close matches. Going in chronological order….
Patrick Kennedy and Wyatt Sheets traded takedowns and rideouts to end the first and second periods, but it was Kennedy’s escape and takedown early in the third that made the difference in his 7-4 victory over the Cowboy. Sheets did take a shot after earning his escape, and looked in great position to capitalize on it until Kennedy pulled a rabbit out of his hat and reversed the position, earning the two for himself and riding out the victory. Nelson Brands got a takedown and rideout in the second period to knock off #11 Dustin Plott, and his recent hot streak leaves me asking: just how good is Nelson Brands? I don’t mean that in a “can he compete for a title” way, because no, but I seriously have no gauge on this kid right now. He is 6-4 on the year, but those four losses come by a combined five points, including 1-point losses to Starocci and Labriola. He could finish anywhere between fourth and an R16 exit and I wouldn’t be terribly surprised.
Abe Assad made his return to the lineup in a big way, defeating Travis Wittlake 4-2 in a match that frankly should not have been so close. Assad showed a lot of improvement in his footwork and aggressiveness, and got in deep on several shots that he couldn’t finish on. I don’t know how much of that was because of his opponent, but regardless, Assad looked the better wrestler and got the much-needed dub after nearly a month off with an elbow injury. Jacob Warner did not look as impressive, surrendering a first-period takedown but scoring off of two escapes and a locked-hands call to beat Luke Surber 3-2. Cassioppi likewise underwhelmed, winning just 4-0 over an opponent a definite tier below him.
Then came Spencer Lee. And the Hawkeye legend ended his Carver career just how he started it: with a first-minute pin. Six years ago (yeesh), I was in attendance to see Spencer Lee come out in a Hawkeye singlet for the first time, making quick work of the then-unknown Rayvon Foley. On Sunday, it was Reece Witcraft who played the fool, going for a cow-catcher and getting cartwheeled over by the always-incredible Lee, who cinched a headlock and settled in for the fall. Spencer, it’s been a helluva ride. Thanks for the memories, and go get four.
.@LeeSpencerlee36 didn't even need a minute to stick his 34th career pin for his last match in Carver Hawkeye Arena! @Hawks_Wrestling x @B1GWrestling pic.twitter.com/UpGeesc7Ne— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) February 19, 2023
Brody Teske gave Fix a great match, trailing just 4-3 going into the final minute with Fix looking gassed. He took an ill-advised shot, though, and gave up a six-point move that, with riding time, gave the three-time runner-up a major decision. Real Woods looked dominant in an 11-0 major over Carter Young, and Max Murin did just enough to outlast Victor Voinovich. Cobe Siebrecht couldn’t get the escape in tiebreakers, and fell to Kaden Gfeller 3-2. That match could easily have a rematch in the bloodrounds at NCAAs, so hopefully the team is figuring out how to approach it next time.
All in all, this dual was everything you could ask for as a fan of anyone other than Oklahoma State. Both sides sent all their starters, and Iowa looked absolutely dominant. These teams both have a lot of guys ranked in the 10-16 range, and to be able to win these close matches at this point in the season is a great sign for the Hawkeyes going into March.
#22 Michigan State 20, Central Michigan 13
Atinat: Central Michigan was actually able to give the Spartans quite the challenge, with Tristan Lujan, Peyton Omania, Ceasar Garza, and Ryan Vasbinder all taking losses. Rayvon Foley and Cam Caffey were able to find bonus points, but guys like Chase Saldate and Layne Malczewski weren’t. I certainly expected a better showing from Michigan State, especially considering they sent all their starters.
#29 Maryland Terrapins 19, Binghamton 12
#6 Ohio State 22, #4 Cornell 14
Atinat: This dual was missing Brent Ungar, Vince Cornella, Yianni Diakomihalis, Chris Foca, Carson Kharchla, Kaleb Romero, and Gavin Hoffman. I think the Flowrestling Radio Live podcast brought up a great point: guys, you don’t have to schedule these duals! I know I was making fun of those who end their season with cupcakes, but is it any better to schedule tough matchups and then not wrestle any of your top guys? And to do it at a neutral site and hype the event up? I said it before, I’ll say it again, the NCAA has a dual problem. There’s no stakes! Make it worth something, and maybe we’ll get the Sasso-Diakomihalis match before NCAAs.
Anyways, there were only two (2!) matches between two starters, and they were Vito’s 6-1 decision over Jesse Mendez and Tate Orndorff’s 4-1 win over Brendan Furman. Ohio State sent more starters and got more wins and more bonus points as a result, so good for them, I guess. Shame on both sides for this, honestly. Bad for the sport.
#18 Wisconsin Badgers 23, #15 Northern Iowa 17
Kind of...: I said 18-18 with UNI winning on criteria, so I was happy to be wrong. Even more bonus points than I was expecting, and UW got most of them. Eric Barnett grabbed a pine, and then Taylor LaMont got the crucial win with a 3-1 SV upset over Kyle Biscoglia. [Getting that right would’ve shifted my pre-meet prediction to 21-15 UW.] UNI responded with a pin at 141 (very disappointing for Joey Zargo) and decision at 149 to tie it at 9, but Garrett Model beat Derek Holschlag in a tossup that I correctly called and Dean Hamiti did his thing—a 13-2 MD—out of intermission to stake UW to a 16-9 lead. As expected, Lance Runyon won at 174, and Parker Keckeisen won big (a 22-6 TF), putting UNI up 17-16. Braxton Amos was able to grab a 10-2 MD, to give UW a 20-17 lead, and Trent Hillger hung on for a 2-1 win that wasn’t pretty, but sealed the dual. [Had Hillger lost, UNI would’ve won 20-20 on criteria.]
Looking forward, it’s all about Barnett and Hamiti repeating as All-Americans. Both are worth, but both are doing it at deep weights. Nobody else looks primed to make a run unless Austin Gomez returns at 149, which I’m rooting for, but not expecting.
#1 Penn State Nittany Lions 40, Clarion 6
#14 Michigan Wolverines 30, Central Michigan 9
Atinat: This is more what I expected. The Wolverines sent ten starters and got seven wins, including a Dylan Ragusin fall and majors from Medley, Finesilver, and Parris. None of the losses were too bad, with all three being tossup matches. There isn’t much to write home about here, as Central Michigan doesn’t have a ton of top guys.
Columbia 18, Maryland 16
#23 Indiana Hoosiers 32, Chattanooga 3
Atinat: Damn! I guess the Hoosiers remembered that loss from last year. A forfeit at 125 was most of the bonus points, but Indiana still won 8 of 9 matches by an average margin of 4.5 points. DJ Washington won the premier matchup, beating Rocky Jordan 4-1. It’s just the second loss of the year for the former Buckeye, who also fell to Illinois’s Edmond Ruth.
Thank you all for following us throughout this regular season. Be sure to stay tuned next week as we ramp up for the postseason!