Wrestling: Iowa State, Northern Iowa both go 2-1 at Collegiate Wrestling Duals in New Orleans
The 2022-23 college wrestling season reached its unofficial halfway point on Tuesday night after the College Wrestling Duals 2.0 concluded at the New Orleans Convention Center — and both the Cyclones and Panthers probably feel pretty good.
No. 5 Iowa State and No. 16 Northern Iowa attended this 12-team, two-day, dual-meet competition, which featured eight of the top 25 teams in InterMat's latest Division I rankings. The Cyclones and Panthers both went 2-1. Both won twice on Monday, then lost in Tuesday night's finals matchups.
The tournament setup did not allow for Iowa State and Northern Iowa to wrestle each other. That'll happen Feb. 10 in Cedar Falls. So this 12-team tournament was more accurately two separate six-team events. The Cyclones were in the Blue Pool and the Panthers were in the Red Pool. Everybody wrestled three times.
Iowa State beat Oregon State, 26-6, and No. 4 Cornell, 18-13, on Monday to advance to Tuesday's finals, where the Cyclones lost 22-12 to top-ranked Penn State, coached by Cael Sanderson, a four-time NCAA champion for Iowa State from 1999-02. The Cyclones are now 7-2 overall this year.
Northern Iowa, in its first dual-meet action of the season, beat Lock Haven, 36-3, and No. 9 Ohio State, 19-13, on Monday to advance, then lost to No. 19 North Carolina State, 27-12, on Tuesday night. This event was UNI’s first dual-meet competition of the season.
It was a thrilling couple of days of wrestling in the Big Easy, full of big matchups and bigger victories from both in-state schools. Here are some takeaways and observations from the action:
Iowa State wrestling knocks off Cornell, falls to Penn State in New Orleans
Have to start with Iowa State's incredible 18-13 win over Cornell, which was incredible because head coach Kevin Dresser bumped three different guys up a weight to secure the win — which is extremely rare to see in college wrestling.
Cornell led 13-9 with three weights left in Monday's matchup, which decided who would advance to wrestle Penn State on Tuesday. Rather than wrestling his usual starters at their normal weights, Dresser inserted Joel Devine at 184, then bumped both Marcus Coleman and Yonger Bastida to 197 and 285, respectively.
The moved worked: Devine beat Evan Canoyer, 5-1; Coleman beat Jacob Cardenas, 4-1; and Bastida beat Lewis Fernandes, 4-2.
The move was out of necessity. Dresser said afterward that Sam Schuyler, Iowa State's 10th-ranked heavyweight, strained his biceps in his 16-4 win over Oregon State's Ryan Reyes. Because Iowa State didn't bring another heavyweight, Dresser did the next-best thing, which was bump everybody up.
More impressive still, the guys Coleman and Bastida beat are very good. Cardenas is ranked 23rd nationally at 197 and won a U23 world silver medal earlier this year. Fernandes is ranked No. 15 at 285 and reached the bloodround at last year's NCAA Championships — and outweighed Bastida by about 40 pounds.
All things considered, it was one of the more remarkable wins in Dresser's Iowa State tenure — one that showed a previously unseen level of toughness, grit and mental fortitude in the heavy-hitters at the end of the Cyclone lineup.
Marcus Coleman beats two-time NCAA champ Aaron Brooks
Crazier still is that Coleman's win over Cardenas wasn't even his biggest win of the week. He followed that inspiring performance by taking down a two-time NCAA champ on Tuesday night.
Coleman beat Penn State's Aaron Brooks 9-7 at 184 pounds in one of the biggest upsets in an event that had many. Coleman countered a shot in the second period and took Brooks feet-to-back, turning a 3-0 deficit into a 6-3 lead. He outlasted Brooks during a third-period surge to win. It was just the third loss of Brooks' college career.
That marquee win was the cap to what was ultimately an up-and-down week for Coleman. Before his big win over Cardenas, he lost his opening match on Monday, 8-4 to Oregon State's Trey Munoz. Coleman beat Munoz 13-2 in the bloodround at last year's NCAA Championships, helping him secure All-American honors.
Marcus's win was not enough for Iowa State to beat Penn State. In the first meeting between Cyclone legend Cael Sanderson and his alma mater, the Nittany Lions won six of 10 matches and prevailed 22-12. But Coleman's win over Brooks may throw a wrench into the national rankings and March seeding conversations at 184.
Paniro Johnson goes toe-to-toe with Yianni Diakomihalis
Paniro Johnson got his hands on top-ranked Yianni Diakomihalis, Cornell's three-time NCAA champion and USA Wrestling's returning world silver medalist. After a series of back-and-forth flurries, Diakomihalis prevailed, 3-1, in overtime during Iowa State's triumph over Cornell on Monday.
It was the latest big test for Iowa State's star 149-pounder, and despite taking his first loss of the year, Johnson has firmly established himself as a top contender nationally. He reaffirmed that position with a 3-2 win over Penn State's 16th-ranked Shayne Van Ness on Tuesday night.
David Carr continues to dominate at 165 pounds
David Carr kind of quietly went 3-0 this week with three wins over top-25 foes. This shouldn't be surprising from a past NCAA champ and two-time All-American, but it's more proof that Carr has adjusted seamlessly to his new weight. He won 6-1 over Oregon State's 23rd-ranked Matthew Olguin; 10-5 over Cornell's 7th-ranked Julian Ramirez; and 4-2 over Penn State's 14th-ranked Alex Facundo, who is also a two-time age-level world medalist.
Iowa State also has a very capable backup 125-pounder. Another quiet development was Corey Cabanban's 2-0 record this week in lieu of Kysen Terukina, who is dealing with a shoulder injury he suffered during the NWCA All-Star Classic. Cabanban notched a 3-1 win over Cornell's 21st-ranked Brett Ungar on Monday, then a 4-0 win over Penn State's Gary Steen on Tuesday.
Northern Iowa's Colin Realbuto beats Ohio State's Sammy Sasso
Colin Realbuto had arguably the best weekend of any Panther wrestler. After going 3-3 and finishing eighth at the CKLV, the junior 149-pounder went 3-0 in New Orleans — and knocked off a pair of top-20 opponents, too.
Realbuto's biggest win came during Monday's pool action, where he registered a 9-7 win over Ohio State's Sammy Sasso, who's ranked No. 3 nationally. Realbuto took Sasso to his back in the second period to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 5-2 lead, helping him outlast a series of Sasso attacks in the third. On Tuesday, Realbuto followed with a two-takedown performance in a 5-4 win over NC State's Jackson Arrington, who's ranked No. 19.
It was a strong response from Realbuto, who began the week ranked No. 25 nationally at 149 (his third win was a 14-6 major decision over Lock Haven's Nick Stonecheck). He ran his season record to 10-3, and has plenty of good momentum heading into the season's halfway mark.
Parker Keckeisen pins NC State's Trent Hidlay
The argument against Realbuto as Northern Iowa's MVP this week is Parker Keckeisen, who beat a pair of top-five opponents: 3-1 over Ohio State's Kaleb Romero, who's ranked No. 5, then a stunning second-period fall over NC State's Trent Hidlay, who's ranked No. 2. (Keckeisen also beat Lock Haven's Colin Fegley, 16-4.)
Against Romero, Keckeisen scored a second-period takedown, which held up as the winner. Against Hidlay, Keckeisen trailed 2-1 after the first, opened the second with an escape to tie, then shot a misdirection single-leg, chased Hidlay to the edge of the mat, climbed the body to cinch up a cradle, then rolled over his own back and pinned Hidlay in 3:54 — all while on the edge of the mat.
Just 18 days ago, Hidlay beat Keckeisen, 8-2, in the CKLV finals. Hidlay won that one by taking Keckeisen feet-to-back early. On Tuesday, Keckeisen returned the favor with a monster pin. Combine this result with Coleman's 9-7 win over Brooks, and the next set of national rankings at 184 will suddenly be very interesting.
Austin Yant quietly dominates in New Orleans
Austin Yant joined Realbuto and Keckeisen with a 3-0 week. The senior 165-pounder who's ranked No. 11 nationally outscored his three opponents 22-5. His 11-1 major decision over Ohio State's Gavin Brown was a crucial result in the Panthers' win over the Buckeyes. He is now, kind of quietly, 10-0 this season with six bonus-point victories.
Lance Runyon returns with big pin in season debut
Lance Runyon made his season debut with a resounding 47-second pin over Lock Haven's Tyler Stoltzfus. Runyon took Stoltzfus to his back quickly in the first, but Stoltzfus rolled through and Runyon followed and locked up a cradle near the edge, then settled in for the fall in the opening minute. It was the fifth pin of his career.
Unfortunately, the good vibes inspired by Runyon's emphatic return didn't last too long. He tweaked his knee in his second match, a 6-4 loss to Ohio State's Ethan Smith. Runyon winced in pain after surrendering a takedown in the third period, but ultimately finished the match. He did not wrestle against NC State on Tuesday. Carson Babcock wrestled in his place, losing 3-1 to Alex Faison.
This was Runyon's first live action since last year's NCAA Championships, where he reached the Round-of-16 and finished 2-2. If he can stay healthy, he gives the Panthers some serious firepower in the back half of their lineup and will be an All-American contender come March.
Tyrell Gordon continues to impress at heavyweight
Tyrell Gordon is a serious threat at heavyweight. At least his early-season results say so. The junior went 2-1 this week. He won twice on Monday, with an 18-3 technical fall over Lock Haven's Ethan Miller and a 3-2 win over Ohio State All-American Tate Orndorff. It was the second time Gordon's beaten Orndorff this year.
On Tuesday, Gordon lost 3-1 in overtime to NC State's Owen Trephan, who's ranked No. 13 nationally (Gordon entered the week at No. 19; Orndorff is No. 9). Both Gordon and Trephan had moments where they could've won the match in regulation, but Trephan ultimately capitalized in sudden victory. Great match overall — and another good weekend from Gordon, who's now 10-4 this season.
Cael Happel continues strong season at 141 pounds
Cael Happel continues to show he's a serious contender at 141 this season. He went 2-1 this week, highlighted by a 7-5 overtime victory over Ohio State's Dylan D'Emilio, where Happel scored a takedown in the third period to force sudden victory, then another out of a scramble to win in the first minute of overtime. It is the second time this season Happel's beaten D'Emilio, adding Monday's result to his 4-2 overtime win at the CKLV.
Additionally, Happel registered a 24-9 technical fall over Lock Haven's Tyler Dilley, but then dropped a 6-3 decision to NC State's Ryan Jack on Tuesday night. Jack, a two-time NCAA qualifier, scored takedowns in the first and third period. It was just Happel's second loss this season. He's now 10-2 overall and firmly in the contender camp at 141 pounds nationally.
Kyle Biscoglia went 1-2 at 133 pounds this week, a small letdown after his third-place showing at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational. He nearly went 3-0 in New Orleans. Both of his losses — 10-6 to Ohio State's Nick Bouzakis, then 8-5 to No. 25 Kai Oreine of N.C. State — came by giving up points late in the match.
Against Bouzakis, Biscoglia led 5-2 with 30 seconds left in the third period. Bouczakis escaped, then locked up a cradle, resulting in a takedown, four back points, and a win. Against Orine, Biscoglia scored two takedowns and led 5-2 late in the third again, but Orine hit a cement-mixer for a takedown and four backs to beat Biscoglia.
Biscoglia is still 11-4 overall this year. He will likely take a small dive in InterMat's next set of national rankings (he was No. 6 entering this week), but should still be considered one of the top guys in the country. These were tough losses, but easy to clean up.
Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at@codygoodwin.