Hawkeyes win Big Ten outright but fail to inspire
IOWA CITY, Ia. – Tom Brands' 160th dual victory as Iowa's wrestling coach wasn't how he would have drawn it up.
Sure, the Hawkeyes' 22-9 win over Michigan in front of 8,319 fans did wrap up the outright Big Ten Conference regular-season championship. And that's no small feat, considering top-ranked Iowa had to win on the road at Minnesota, Ohio State and Penn State along the way.
But as Friday night's dual showed, the Hawkeyes have a lot to fix.
"We've got work to do," said Brands, who moved into a tie with Dave McCuskey as the school's second-winningest dual coach behind Dan Gable's 355. "It was not an inspiring performance, for whatever reason."
Three of his top-10 wrestlers lost, and only one guy — Cory Clark — scored bonus points.
Against a Wolverines lineup that sat top-10 starters Rossi Bruno and Taylor Massa, the Hawkeyes compiled only 13 takedowns.
"I don't think we wrestled to score points. I think we wrestled to hand fight," Brands said. "I think we wrestled to stay in there. I think we wrestled to survive. I don't know if your best chance to win is to try to survive. Your best chance to win is to go out there and score points and put the energy into that simple task."
Asked if the issue was mental, Brands replied with a cryptic, "I don't know."
Three of Iowa's five fifth-year seniors picked up wins on senior night. Josh Dziewa (20-6) looked good in winning 6-0 over George Fisher. It was Dziewa's sixth win in seven matches. Nick Moore and Mike Evans got off to choppy starts but survived.
But there is concern at 157, where Iowa's eighth-ranked Michael Kelly was beaten handily by No. 7 Brian Murphy 7-2. Kelly (18-6) has lost three of his last four.
"Looked like we were disoriented. Giving up reversals," Brands said. "Facing the scorer's table. We're a fifth-year senior there, and we're facing the wrong direction for the start. You wonder, are you disoriented? We've got to have our head on our shoulders."
Senior heavyweight Bobby Telford was taken down in the tiebreaker by Michigan sophomore Adam Coon and lost 3-2, making for an awkward senior-night ceremony immediately after.
Nathan Burak picked up Iowa's most dramatic win of the night, and it was much-needed. The fifth-ranked 197-pounder snapped a two-match losing streak with a sudden-victory takedown and near fall to beat No. 13 Max Huntley 5-1.
"The whole match I was too focused on getting my high crotch instead of really flowing and moving him and getting into different setups and fakes," Burak said. "So I just went to the double and it was there, and I got it."
Six of Friday's 10 first periods ended 0-0. No wonder Brands wasn't happy with his team's aggressiveness.
"You've always got to get the first score: score first, score fast, score often," said second-ranked Brandon Sorensen, who beat No. 8 Alec Pantaleo 2-1 after a scoreless first. "That's a big thing we've been focusing on and it didn't really happen tonight."
IOWA 22, MICHIGAN 9
125: Gilman (Iowa) dec. Youtsey, 6-1; 133: Clark (Iowa) maj. dec. Hilyard, 14-3; 141: Dziewa (Iowa) dec. Fisher, 6-0; 149: Sorensen (Iowa) dec. Pantaleo, 2-1; 157: Murphy (Michigan) dec. Kelly, 7-2; 165: Moore (Iowa) dec. Sutton, 6-1; 174: Evans (iowa) dec. Salazar, 8-3; 184: Abounader (Michigan) dec. Brooks, 3-2; Burak (Iowa) sudd. vict. Huntley, 5-1; 285: Coon (Michigan) tiebreaker Telford, 3-2.