IOWA CITY, Ia. — Topher Carton has stuck it out through five seasons as an Iowa wrestler for moments like he had Saturday.
Carton is finally the Hawkeye starter at 141 pounds, which meant he was participating in his first dual against rival Iowa State before 10,000 discerning fans at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The early periods were not kind to Carton, who was overly cautious and trailing the Cyclones’ John Meeks 3-0. He chose to begin the third period down, made his escape 10 seconds in and followed with two decisive takedowns, the crowd reaching a crescendo each time, to come away with a 7-4 victory. Carton reacted by pacing near the fans and pointing in triumph, a huge smile on his face.
Carton’s three points gave the Hawkeyes the lead for good in a 26-9 blitzing of Iowa State, a 13th consecutive victory in this series.
“It’s always fun to go out and wrestle in front of the best fans in the world,” Carton said. “They love pressure and attacking and scoring points. … It’s hard to not put on a show when that’s what they want.
“It was a lot of fun and I’m glad I got to experience it.”
Carton, a Davenport Assumption graduate, is 10-0 on the season. His trend had been to pile up points early then survive late.
Iowa coach Tom Brands was happy to see Carton finish strong.
“He bailed himself out of a hole. The guy unraveled a little bit, gave us some help with some funny things that were going on with cautions and stuff. Guys aren’t going to make those mistakes later on in the year,” Brands said.
“Topher Carton getting third-period takedowns is what we’re looking for. Because I know he can score in the first and second period and ride tough.”
If Carton can continue to ride tough at 141 pounds, it would be a big lift for a Hawkeye team that hasn’t had a lot of success at that weight in recent years.
In Carton’s first year, it was Mark Ballweg who got the nod in the Cy-Hawk dual. Josh Dziewa took over the next two winters. Last year, Logan Ryan was the Hawkeye entrant at 141 in this dual. None of them achieved all-American status, which would be a huge accomplishment for Carton. He is ranked 20th in the country by Trackwrestling.
“I probably could have set the tide a little bit more in the first period,” Carton admitted. “Offense was there. I just need to go out and pull the trigger. … I need to put it all together and really wrestle a complete match.”
The fact that Carton’s successful Cy-Hawk debut came against Meeks must have made it even sweeter. Meeks was the much more heralded wrestler coming out of high school at Des Moines Roosevelt in 2012. He was 206-0 as a prep, but entered Saturday’s dual unranked.
"You throw another Iowa kid out there, especially from the same year and one that he knows,” Iowa State coach Kevin Jackson lamented. “(Meeks) normally beats Iowa kids when he faces Iowa kids."