Iowa wrestlers thump Maryland to complete east-coast weekend sweep

Cody Goodwin
Hawk Central

After this weekend’s duals, the Iowa wrestling team remains undefeated against the Big Ten’s newest members.

The 10th-ranked Hawkeyes completed a weekend sweep with a 40-6 win over Maryland on Sunday in College Park, which extended their road conference dual winning streak to 24. The lopsided affair came just two days after Iowa came back to defeat No. 9 Rutgers in Piscataway, New Jersey, on Friday night.

Phillip Laux, 133-pounder, poses for photos during the University of Iowa wrestling media day Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017, in Iowa City, Iowa.

And the matchup against the Terrapins (3-4, 0-4 Big Ten) was as lopsided as the score suggests. Iowa (7-0, 3-0) took nine of 10 bouts and racked up 36 combined takedowns while holding Maryland to just two. The Hawkeyes scored bonus points in six matches: two pins, three technical falls and a major.

The only disappointment, perhaps, was in how the Terrapins came into its six team points. Iowa forfeited the highly-anticipated bout at heavyweight, which was set to feature Maryland’s Youssif Hermida, ranked 7th at the weight by Trackwrestling, against Sam Stoll, who’s ranked 18th.

“That’s not popular with the fans, I’m sure,” Iowa coach Tom Brands said afterward. “It’s just one of those things where you have to do the right thing. It’s December.”


Without the Stoll-Hermida bout, the dual was highlighted by Carter Happel’s 8-7 victory over Maryland’s Ryan Diehl at 141. It was a welcomed bounce-back victory for Happel, who wrestled both duals this weekend and lost a competitive 3-2 bout to Rutgers’ Michael Van Brill on Friday.

“The thing that’s going to make these guys a part of this team is, are you going to perform?” Brands said after Friday’s dual. “It’s not even about winning — it’s about wrestling the entire match.

“If you have an opportunity, go get it … seize the moment. Seize the day.”

Vince Turk was Iowa’s guy at 141 earlier this year after winning the weight during the team’s wrestle-offs in November, but went 3-2 to begin the season. As such, Brands gave Happel a chance to see what he could do this weekend.

A four-time state champ from Lisbon who redshirted last year, Happel continually attacked and rode hard against Diehl, who’s ranked 15th at 141 by Trackwrestling. Happel overcame an early takedown and a wild second period — which went: Happel escape, takedown, Diehl escape, takedown, Happel reversal, Diehl escape — to score a takedown late in the third to win thanks to a riding-time point.

“I felt good in the first and second period with my ties and stuff,” Happel said afterward. “He’s kind of a funky wrestler, but in the third period, I knew I could get to my high-crotch or my single or something because I could feel him gassing. Like Tom was saying, 'Seven minutes hard.'

“Coming off the tight match on Friday — my first loss — just building from that... Kind of the same situation here. I was down late in the match and was able to pull it out.”

Dike-New Hartford's Trent Johnson (left) wrestles Lisbon's Carter Happel Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016 during the class 1A state wrestling tournament finals in Des Moines.

The rest of the dual wasn’t nearly as exciting. Justin Stickley used a reversal and riding time to win, 3-0, at 125. Phillip Laux got the call at 133 after Paul Glynn got the nod against Rutgers. Laux scored four takedowns and some late back points to secure a 13-3 major decision over Jhared Simmons.

“Just wrestling every position today, the whole time,” Laux said afterward. “That was my main focus today — next position; next position. That’s what coaches talk about all the time — 'No matter what happens, just wrestle the next position.' I just went out there and tried to score points.”

The big points came quickly after Happel’s win: Brandon Sorensen, first-period pin at 149; Michael Kemerer, 26-10 tech at 157; Alex Marinelli, first-period pin at 165; Mitch Bowman, 20-5 tech at 184; and Cash Wilcke, 19-3 tech at 197. Sandwiched between them all was a Joey Gunther victory at 174, a workmanlike 3-1 decision over Josh Ulgade.

Iowa will now have a couple of weeks to prepare for the Midlands Championships, set for Dec. 29-30 in Hoffman Estates, Illinois.

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

No. 10 Iowa 40, Maryland 6:

125: Justin Stickley (I) dec. Brandon Cray (M), 3-0; 3-0
133: Phillip Laux (I) major dec. Jhared Simmons (M), 13-3; 7-0
141: Carter Happel (I) dec. Ryan Diehl (M), 8-7; 10-0
149: Brandon Sorensen (I) pinned Peter Dedesco (M), 1:20; 16-0
157: Michael Kemerer (I) tech. fall Justin Alexander (M), 26-10; 21-0
165: Alex Marinelli (I) pinned Brendan Burnham (M), 2:41; 27-0
174: Joey Gunther (I) dec. Josh Ugalde (M), 3-1; 30-0
184: Mitch Bowman (I) tech. fall Spencer Woods (M), 20-5; 35-0
197: Cash Wilcke (I) tech. fall Niko Caappello (M), 19-4; 40-0
285: Yousif Hemida (M) win by forfeit; 40-6