Wrestling Mailbag: Final Cy-Hawk thoughts, Cobe Siebrecht's throw, Team USA, the World Cup

Cody Goodwin
Des Moines Register

A lot of you guys asked about Sunday's Cy-Hawk dual, so before we rehash a lot of that again, some quick thoughts about the World Cup.

No, not that World Cup.

Wrestling's World Cup, the one where Team USA will actually, legitimately contend and is coming to Coralville's Xtream Arena this week.

For the first time ever, both the men's and women's freestyle World Cup competitions will be held in the same building at the same time. It's a tremendous opportunity for wrestling to put their top men's and women's wrestlers on the same stage and give them the same shine. That's a really cool thing.

We know the men's freestyle competition will be a banger. We saw as much in 2018, when Team USA beat Azerbaijan 6-4 in the finals. It was a fantastic few days of wrestling, despite not having Iran, Russia, or Turkey in the building, which was originally the plan.

But the women's competition deserves your attention, too. The popularity of girls and women's wrestling has skyrocketed in recent years, and the folks at Xtream Arena and Think Iowa City have helped facilitate that by hosting the girls wrestling state championships, adding a girls division to the Dan Gable Donnybrook, and now by bringing the women's World Cup to be contested alongside the men this week.

RELATED:How Coralville and Xtream Arena became America’s wrestling hotspot

The competition, set for Saturday and Sunday, will be an amazing confluence of different cultures and incredible wrestling and it's all going to be so much fun. It will also be a chance for Team USA to test its depth against some of the top wrestling countries in the world.

Neither the U.S. men or women's freestyle teams will field their full A-Team lineups this week, which is a bummer, but there's still some serious star-power on both squads. The men will have five returning world team members, led by world champs Jordan Burroughs and Kyle Snyder. The women will have five returning world-teamers as well, led by world champ Amit Elor and returning medalists Kayla Miracle and Mallory Velte.

We'd like to see the entire A Teams out there, sure, but it's also an opportunity for other Americans to get some shine against international stars. Iowa's own Felicity Taylor, for example, will go at 53 kilograms (116 pounds) for the women's team and will face two returning Senior world championship combatants. Nate Jackson, a universal fan favorite, will likely see a world medalist from September. Those are just two examples.

It's a little weird to inject some freestyle energy into a time normally reserved for folkstyle. But this weekend's action will be absolutely worth it if you can make it. I'll be there all weekend taking in some of the best wrestling the world has to offer. Hope to see you there.

OK, onto the Wrestling Mailbag. A lot of final Cy-Hawk thoughts today, plus a quick look back at the Dan Gable Donnybrook and another look ahead to the World Cup. Welcome to December, you guys. It's very cold.

Please give me a follow on Twitter and I’ll keep you up to date on all things wrestling in Iowa. Don't forget to tune into the Register's wrestling podcast, In the Room, each week. You can find the latest episodes below.

Thanks for your help here, and for reading.

Final thoughts on Sunday's thrilling Cy-Hawk wrestling dual

All of them. Can I say all of them? I'm going to say all of them.

That's a cop-out answer, but it's also the honest one. Seemingly every match had something great.

Real Woods made his Iowa debut, and Casey Swiderski wasn't scared. Paniro Johnson continues to look like one of the nation's top 149-pounders. Cobe Siebrecht! David Carr! Marcus Coleman and Abe Assad are fairly even. So are Jacob Warner and Yonger Bastida. Sam Schuyler has wrestled really well this season, but Tony Cassioppi reminded everybody that he's world class. And, oh yeah, Spencer Lee is back.

That's what the Cy-Hawk dual should look like and feel like all the time. Every match was intense. Every match, clearly, mattered. The dual ended 5-5, which sounds about right. If you wrestle that dual 10 times, a handful of those matches — 133, 149, 157, 165, 184, 197 — would go completely differently.

It is hard for me to pick one favorite because I liked so many matches for so many reasons. Lee's return injected more juice into an already-wound-up building. Woods-Swiderski poured gasoline on the fire. Johnson-Max Murin was a chess match, and then Siebrecht goes out and launched Jason Kraisser on his head. Carr was very tactical. Nelson Brands was a bulldozer, then 184 and 197 could've gone either way.

I wrote this yesterday, but the last time the Cy-Hawk dual went 5-5 in matches was 2018, when Iowa eked out a 19-18 win after getting upset at three weights, losing another due to an injury default, but rallied thanks to Jacob Warner beating Willie Miklus, Sam Stoll wrestling on a bad knee, and Austin DeSanto not getting pinned. But before that? It was 2004 … which was the last time Iowa State won the Cy-Hawk dual.

That tells me Iowa State is as close as they've ever been to the Hawkeyes, at least in a dual setting. They still have a ways to go in a tournament setting, but duals are often great barometers for program rebuilds, and it's clear the Cyclones have taken good steps forward under Kevin Dresser.

The best part? Not unreasonable to think we could see a lot of those matchups again. The matchups at 141, 149, 165, 184 and 197, especially, felt like NCAA quarterfinal/bloodround matches on Sunday. Put those matches on the dogbone mats inside Tulsa's BOK Center in March and see how much more intense they get.

MORE:19 things we learned from Iowa’s 18-15 win over Iowa State

Iowa's Real Woods, second from right, and Iowa State's Casey Swiderski are separated by referees Titus Godbolt, left, and Matt Sorochinsky after Woods scored a decision at 141 pounds during a Cy-Hawk Series NCAA men's wrestling dual, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.

Iowa's Jacob Warner vs. Iowa State's Yonger Bastida at 197 pounds

Went about how I expected. Here the full notebook dump from when I rewatched the match:

Bastida is so fast when he decides to pull the trigger offensively. We saw that when he scored two takedowns in the first period — including one at the buzzer, which was huge. Warner is a gamer, made positional adjustments (which can be hard to do against a fast-twitch guy like Bastida), and was in on shots in both the second and third periods. If he finishes the one in the third on the edge, he wins.

These are two All-American-caliber wrestlers, which, like, duh. Warner is a three-time podium finisher and returning NCAA finalist. Bastida won four in a row in the wrestlebacks en route to a fifth-place finish last March. Would not be surprise if they hit again in March, but 197 is a volatile weight class — returning champ Max Dean lost twice this past week — so who knows how the seeds will shake out three-and-a-half months from now.

Bastida likes to play mind games on the mat, even if only a little. Both guys were swiping at each other with heavy hands, but Bastida stuck his tongue out at Warner during the second period, probably as a way to frustrate Warner. Looked funny on video. Taunting can be hit and miss. Warner might've bit on that as a freshman and reacted with a poor decision. It likely still made him mad in the moment. He'll remember that.

When it comes to the actual wrestling, you got a real good look at Bastida's technique on his two takedowns.

His first came after a flurry of slight level changes, then he dropped to a low-ankle shot on Warner's left leg but used it more as a shot-entry because he immediately got his hips under him, came up, popped his head outside, cut across for a double. That speed is insane.

On his end-of-the-period takedown, Bastida muscled into double-unders, elevated on the left side while simultaneously dropping his right hand to pick Warner's left ankle and covers on the edge for the takedown at the gun — then he clapped in Warner's face after the buzzer sounded.

Bastida picked neutral in the second period, which tells me he respects Warner's top game. Noticed that throughout the match Bastida clubbed Warner's head or tried to snap him to the mat and often grabbed his headgear. Ref gave him a verbal warning in the second period, then he got dinged for it in the third, resulting in a point for Warner. Dresser pointed to his temple, telling Bastida to stay calm. Found that interesting.

You could tell in the second period that Warner's heavy hands and constant pressure were starting to get to Bastida a little. Late in the second, Warner went club-single to Bastida's right leg, but Bastida defended well enough to avoid the takedown. Warner about landed on Bastida's second leg. If he catches it, takedown, and it's 4-3 entering the third. Warner also wanted a call on Bastida for fleeing. Some refs might've given it.

More of the same in the third, and the wildest part to me was that Warner again went club-single and picked up Bastida's leg with 33 seconds left in the match. You have to finish that shot. You have to. Warner's track record suggests he'll work on that and finish that shot come March. But, man. Give Bastida credit, though. To stand and fight off another attack for 33 seconds at the end of the match like that was mighty impressive.

Great match overall. I'd watch it again.

Instant Analysis:#2 Iowa defeats #10 Iowa State, 18-15, in thrilling Cy-Hawk wrestling dual

Iowa's Jacob Warner, right, wrestles Iowa State's Yonger Bastida at 197 pounds during a Cy-Hawk Series NCAA men's wrestling dual, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.

Cobe Siebrecht's big throw against Jason Kraisser

Let's set the scene:

While tied up in the first period, Siebrecht swipes for a cross-body ankle-pick then immediately swings his right arm back up and goes seat-belt position. Kraisser counters with an overhook. Siebrecht comes up and goes full body-lock, but now Kraisser has double-overs and snaked his left leg inside Siebrecht's right leg. The crowd begins to roar and the wrestlers stop, trying to figure out each other's next move.

We didn't get to speak to Siebrecht afterward, so this is only from my perspective, but when you're in a situation like that, you're looking for where you're comfortable. That's a 'duh' statement, but against a guy like Kraisser, who's comfortable in a lot of weird positions, you have to get where you feel good, where you know you're good, to a place that you've felt before.

Most importantly, when you pull the trigger like Siebrecht did, go all the way. Too often, guys try half-attempts at a throw or inside trip, or they'll pull the trigger then hesitate because it doesn't feel right after they launch, and it bites them and they're the ones on their backs. If you're going to go in a position like this, commit to it — which is exactly what Siebrecht did.

Siebrecht adjusted his lock, likely to get a better grip, then pulled the trigger. Siebrecht swung his right leg up, literally like he was kicking a field goal, to unlace his leg, which eliminated any advantage Kraisser might've had when they landed. When they landed, Siebrecht kicked his right leg out like a post, giving him leverage as he held Kraisser there for the takedown and four backs.

This wasn't just a grip-it-and-rip-it type of throw. The whole thing was very calculated and beautifully-executed. Here it is again in like slow-motion. Watch how Siebrecht kicks his right leg up and see how it helps him cover.

Thanks for flying Siebrecht Airlines.

Or Air Curly.

Or Curly Air! That one is funny because, you know, he has curly hair.

*ba-dum, tish*

(Sorry, I'll show myself out.)

Iowa's Cobe Siebrecht, back, wrestles Iowa State's Jason Kraisser at 157 pounds during a Cy-Hawk Series NCAA men's wrestling dual, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.

The Dan Gable Traveling Trophy

Great question. Short answer: I'm not sure. Sunday was Iowa State's best shot in a long while, and it may be another long while before they get another shot like that.

Here's the long answer: While driving home on Sunday evening, I thought for a minute that maybe Iowa State could win next year. Then I thought about the matchups and changed my mind.

This is a WAY too early lookahead, but here's what next year's Cy-Hawk dual could look like:

  • 125: Drake Ayala vs. Kysen Terukina
  • 133: Brody Teske/Cullan Schriever vs. Ramazan Attasaouv
  • 141: Real Woods vs. Casey Swiderski
  • 149: Caleb Rathjen/Cody Chittum vs. Paniro Johnson
  • 157: Cobe Siebrecht/Aiden Riggins vs. Jason Kraisser/Connor Euton
  • 165: Patrick Kennedy vs. David Carr
  • 174: Nelson Brands vs. Julien Broderson/Manny Rojas/MJ Gaitan
  • 184: Abe Assad vs. Tate Naaktgeboren
  • 197: Kolby Franklin/Bradley Hill vs. Yonger Bastida
  • 285: Tony Cassioppi vs. Francis Duggan

Think Iowa gets the nod at 125, 141, 157, 174, 184, 285, and 133 is another winnable match. Iowa may be losing a lot with Lee, Murin, Warner all leaving after this season, but with Coleman graduating, that flips 184 to Iowa's favor, at least in this matchup.

A few things to consider, too:

  • No guarantee that Swiderski stays at 141. He's pulling a lot of weight this year, and the eventual plan may be for him to grow into 157, if only because Johnson ain't going anywhere.
  • Unsure what 157 and 174 might look like for Iowa State, just because there's guys who are currently redshirting that I know Dresser is excited about. Same for 184. I plugged in Tate Naaktgeboren, who will be a true freshman next year, but could easily see Broderson or even Joel Devine bumping to 184.
  • There's also the possibility that Bastida could redshirt, or even bump to 285. Dresser hinted this past summer they're considering that as an option.
  • Iowa may be losing Lee, but they're going to be just fine with Ayala back at 125.
  • Unrelated, but the 149 and 157 lineup battles could be a lot of fun next year for Iowa.

So, yeah. Very early lookahead suggests the trophy won't travel. But, again, it's very early.

Iowa's Nelson Brands gives two thumbs up after scoring a major decision at 174 pounds during a Cy-Hawk Series NCAA men's wrestling dual against Iowa State, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.

Recapping the 2022 Dan Gable Donnybrook

I was not surprised, but I was impressed.

Gabe Arnold, a future Hawkeye now reppin' Iowa City High after three years at Wyoming Seminary, blew through one of the Donnybrook's deepest weights. It was his Iowa high school wrestling debut, and he did not disappoint, outscoring his five opponents 76-25. He beat Linn-Mar's Tate Naaktgeboren 8-3 in the semifinals, then topped West Bend's Connor Mirasola 4-3 in the finals. All three are ranked in the top-10 nationally by MatScouts.

I was not surprised because Gabe Arnold is that good. He's a two-time national prep champ, a 16U freestyle national champ, and he won a four-man weight at Who's Number One a few years ago. Guy's talented. No question about it.

I was impressed because that was the first time I got to see him wrestle up close, and, man, he's incredible live.

He's got a wicked combination of speed and power. We're all mesmerized by the shucks and super-ducks and slide-bys. But his head-and-hands defense were just as impressive. Don't believe he gave up a takedown all weekend (he did give up a reversal to Mirasola in the finals, though).

Thing is, I wouldn't have been surprised if Naaktgeboren had won either. He's as mean as they come on the mat, and his relentless pressure and versatile offensive skillset makes him one of the top wrestlers in the country. He nearly scored two on the edge against Arnold in their semifinal match. Do that, the match changes.

The beauty of that particular matchup specifically is that we'll (hopefully) see it a few more times this season. City High and Linn-Mar are in the same conference, so there's a head-to-head dual meet in January, the conference tournament as well, and, presumably, the state tournament in February. Both City High and Linn-Mar are going to the Battle of Waterloo later this month, so maybe they'll hit there, too. Sign me up.

It would be easy to pick 182 as my favorite weight, and it definitely was one of my favorite weights, but there was so much to love about so many different weights from the Donnybrook.

You could argue that 195 was a deeper weight, and we saw a potential state finals preview in the third-place match, between Waverly-Shell Rock's McCrae Hagarty and Fort Dodge's Dreshaun Ross. At 113, we saw a ton of Class 3A's major players, with Dru Ayala, Jake Knight, Connor Fiser, Ryker Graff. At 132, Jayce Luna caught a heater like I've never seen from him before, beating both Carter Freeman and Kael Kurtz to reach the finals.

It was a fantastic way to kick off the 2022-23 high school wrestling season.

MORE:At the Dan Gable Donnybrook, an exciting first girls wrestling season continues to unfold

Iowa City West's impressive freshman Alex Pierce

Is there a fan club for Iowa City West's Alex Pierce? I would like to be a member. Please send me the application. I'll sign it right now.

But there's been a lot at successful 106-pounders who have gone on to find success at the college level and beyond. Here's a few names just off the top from the last two decades that won state titles and then went on to do some cool things:

  • Dylan Peters won in 2010 for Denver and went on to become a two-time All-American for Northern Iowa.
  • Cory Clark won in 2009 for Southeast Polk, became a four-time state champ, then a four-time All-American, three-time NCAA finalist and national champ at Iowa.
  • Joe Colon won in 2007 for Clear Lake, won a junior-college title, took third at the NCAA Championships, and ultimately won a bronze medal at the 2018 world championships.
  • Jay Borschel won in 2002 for Linn-Mar, became a four-time state champ, then a two-time All-American and NCAA champ at Iowa.

Disclaimer: all of these guys won their state titles at 103 pounds, not 106. But you get what I'm saying.

And not to be forgotten: both T.J. Sebolt and Dylan Carew were state champs as 103-pounders and now run two of the best wrestling clubs in the country, Sebolt Wrestling Academy and Big Game Wrestling Club. It just so happens that Pierce wrestles for Carew at Big Game.

This is not to say Pierce is the state's next incredible 106-pounder, but man, he sure looked the part this past weekend. He was also a tad undersized for the weight, making it all the more impressive. There will be others who emerge at this weight — or, in the case of Southeast Polk's Carter Pearson, are already here — but count Pierce among the early-season contenders and among the many freshman who have big futures ahead of them.

Iowa City West's Alex Pierce reacts after scoring a decision at 106 pounds during the finals of the Dan Gable Donnybrook high school boys wrestling tournament, Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022, at Xtream Arena in Coralville, Iowa.

Matches to watch at the men's and women's freestyle World Cup

Oh man. There's going to be so many matches worth watching this weekend, but I'll stick with those that involve USA wrestlers — and, more specifically, the matches that we know will happen in the group stages. USA's men's freestyle team will wrestle Mongolia and Georgia. The women will wrestle China and the All-World team.

So, here we go:

Nick Gwiazdowski/Hayden Zillmer vs. Geno Petriashvili (Georgia) and Lkhagvagerel Munkhtur (Mongolia)

  • Pretty fun group round-robin! Petrisahvili is a two-time Olympic medalist and three-time world champ. Munkhtur is a 2022 world finalist. Both of these matches will be incredible, whether Gwiazdowski or Zillmer get the nod.

Nate Jackson vs. Miriani Maisuradze (Georgia)

  • Nate Jackson is one of the most fun wrestlers to watch in America, and his run to Final X this past spring and summer was incredible. Maisuradze is the 2022 world bronze medalist. Great test to see how Jackson stacks up internationally.
Nate Jackson, right, will wrestle for Team USA this weekend at the UWW World Cup in Coralville.

Tyler Berger/Alec Pantaleo vs. Zurabi Iakobishvili (Georgia)

  • Iakobishvili won world bronze this year, and lost to Zain Retherford in the semifinals. This match will test USA's depth at 70 kilos.

Seth Gross vs. Narankhuu Narmandakh (Mongolia)

  • Gross finished fifth at the world championships in September while Narmandahk won bronze, but they were in opposite bronze-medal matches. This could be a high-scoring match that will be important in the USA-Mongolia dual.

Mallory Velte vs. Jia Long (China)

  • Velte and Long are both returning world medalists (Velte won bronze, Long won silver). They were on opposite sides of the bracket at the world championships, so this would be a big matchup in the USA-China dual.
Mallory Velte is a two-time world bronze medalist for Team USA in women's freestyle.

Kayla Miracle vs. Xiaojuan Luo (China) and Aisuluu Tynybekova (Kyrgyzstan)

  • Another fun round-robin group! Miracle is a two-time world silver medalist, a run that included a 17-6 first-round win over Luo, won rallied to win bronze. Tynybekova is a 2020 Olympic silver and a two-time world champ.

Jenna Burkert/Jacarra Winchester vs. Karla Godinez (Canada)

  • Godinez won world bronze in September, and she'll face either Burkert, a world bronze medalist in 2021, or Winchester, who won a world title in 2019 and finished fifth in September.

There are so many more matches that could happen and that I'll keep an eye out for this weekend, in both men's and women's freestyle. Xtream Arena is the place to be this weekend. Get your tickets now.

Team USA won the 2018 Wrestling World Cup when it was held in Iowa City. The World Cup returns this weekend to Xtream Arena in Coralville.

This week, I'm grateful for my couch. It's the kind you can sink into if you're not careful. Took a bomb nap on it Monday afternoon. That was nice.

Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at@codygoodwin.