Iowa reaches National Duals final via high-emotion win over Cornell

Chad Leistikow

Iowa head coach Tom Brands holds back his brother, associate head coach Terry Brands, during an altercation at Mike Evans' National Duals semifinal match against Cornell's George Pickett at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday. Evans won by decision, 3-0.

IOWA CITY, Ia. – A 3-0 win by Iowa's Mike Evans against an unranked opponent tells you everything about the importance of the National Duals.

Saturday's 174-pound match of the Hawkeyes' 24-8 semifinal-round win against No. 5 Cornell saw pushing, shoving, a little taunting, excitable assistant coaches and even an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty point.

It was college wrestling in one of its most entertaining forms.

"There's some controversy out there," Iowa coach Tom Brands said, "and I don't think that's a bad thing."

Fifth-ranked Thomas Gilman started the dual out in Iowa's favor, knocking off No. 3 Nahshon Garrett 3-1 at 125 pounds.

But the fireworks got going in the first period at 174, when, after a scrum, Evans gave Cornell's Duke Pickett a two-handed shove on the edge of the mat. Pickett went to the ground. That riled up Big Red associate head coach Damion Hahn, a former NCAA champion at Minnesota and Hawkeyes associate head coach Terry Brands.

The two jawed at each other and the Carver-Hawkeye Arena crowd loved it. The excitable twin brother of Iowa's head coach jumped to the scorer's table to signal two points when Evans scored a takedown with about a minute left in the third period.

"What about Terry? I don't know. I know that I'm calm," Tom Brands said. "I'm like, 'Hey, what's going on here?'

"I just know that you wrestle until the whistle blows. My daddy taught me that. … Yeah, you get wound up. But it's an emotional sport."

Evans gave a few hearty claps standing over Pickett with six seconds to go when it was clear the bout was decided. Pickett took off his headgear before the match ended. Cornell coach Rob Koll said he wasn't sure why his team was docked an unsportsmanlike conduct team-point penalty.

"I was fine if that was the team point, I just think they should've done the same with Evans," Koll said. "I don't know. It was loud in there."

Koll didn't endear himself to the Hawkeye fans when he forfeited at heavyweight after another top-10 matchup went Iowa's way — fifth-ranked Nathan Burak defeating No. 9 Jace Bennett 3-2 at 197.

Koll explained that heavyweight Jacob Aiken-Phillips, a three-year starter with a 12-15 record, has had knee trouble and was wary of the physical prowess of Iowa's sixth-ranked Bobby Telford.

"I don't know if you noticed, the Iowa guy, he's really big and pretty mean," Koll said. "We don't have any backup heavyweights. So I need him for the rest of the year."

Telford wasn't buying it.

"Surprised. National Duals. You figure you're in college, big-boy wrestling, you figure they'd send someone out," Telford said. "They had other plans, I guess."

Telford and the Hawkeyes came out firing Saturday, steamrolling Chattanooga 44-3 behind five pins. Iowa had seven total pins in its previous 12 duals.

"We don't care about what's happened in the past," Telford said. "We came here to wrestle. Pretty simple."

The passion only gets more intense Sunday at 11:30 a.m., when Iowa (17-0) matches up with second-ranked Missouri (23-0) for the National Duals title — live on the Big Ten Network.

"I think it's going to be one of the highest-rated dual meets in a long time," Missouri coach Brian Smith said, "just because of the build-up."


125: Thomas Gilman (I) dec. Nahshon Garrett, 3-1; 133: Cory Clark (I) dec. Mark Grey, 6-2; 141: Josh Dziewa (I) dec. Dylan Realbuto, 5-3; 149: Brandon Sorensen (I) dec. Chris Villalonga, 4-1; 157: Brian Realbuto (Co) dec. Michael Kelly, 10-7; 165: Dylan Palacio (Co) dec. Nick Moore, 5-4; 174: Mike Evans (I) dec. Duke Pickett, 3-0.*; 184: Gabe Dean (Co) dec. Sammy Brooks, 6-2; 197: Nathan Burak (I) dec. Jace Bennett, 3-2; Hwt.: Bobby Telford (I) wins by forfeit. *Cornell assessed 1-point team penalty after 174-pound match.


125 - Sean Boyle (Chattanooga) over Thomas Gilman (Iowa) SV-1 3-1; 133 - Cory Clark (Iowa) over Nick Soto (Chattanooga) Fall 4:16; 141 - Josh Dziewa (Iowa) over Mike Pongracz (Chattanooga) Dec 4-2; 149 - Brandon Sorensen (Iowa) over Jacob Murphy (Chattanooga) TF 20-4; 157 - Mike Kelly (Iowa) over Austin Sams (Chattanooga) Fall 4:32; 165 - Nick Moore (Iowa) over Justin Lampe (Chattanooga) Dec 11-6; 174 - Michael Evans (Iowa) over Sean Mappes (Chattanooga) Fall 4:44; 184 - Sam Brooks (Iowa) over McCoy Newberg (Chattanooga) Fall 1:53; 197 - Nathan Burak (Iowa) over Scottie Boykin (Chattanooga) Dec 7-4; Hwt - Bobby Telford (Iowa) over Jared Johnson (Chattanooga) Fall 2:50