Hawkeye wrestlers topple Oklahoma State to stay undefeated

Cody Goodwin
Hawk Central

IOWA CITY, Ia. — When the Iowa and Oklahoma State wrestling programs meet up here at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, there is usually a crowd on hand to watch.

The last four times the Cowboys visited Iowa City to wrestle, the official attendance has broken 10,000 fans. The average size of the Carver crowd of those meetings (during 2007-08, 2009-10, 2011-12 and 2013-14 seasons) was 12,710.

And that’s not even counting the 42,287 that came to watch these two duke it out inside Kinnick Stadium to kick off the 2015-16 campaign.

Sunday’s contest was no different, as 13,485 fans — the 13th-largest crowd in the history of Carver-Hawkeye Arena — packed themselves in like sardines to watch Iowa wrestle Oklahoma State. And the home team did not disappoint.

The Hawkeyes dispatched their longtime rivals, 20-12, on Sunday afternoon. Iowa won six of the 10 matches and received bonus points from its senior captain to improve to 9-0 while simultaneously handing the Cowboys their first loss of the season.

Iowa associate head coach Terry Brands celebrates the Hawkeyes' 20-12 win over Oklahoma State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018.

“We pointed to this,” Iowa coach Tom Brands said. “We had success. We won some tough matches. There were some good, good things that happened there … you don’t congratulate yourself in January. Maybe this is one time where you take a little bit of a breath.”

Iowa edged Oklahoma State in most every statistical category on this day. The Hawkeyes, ranked third in Trackwrestling’s latest Division I poll, tallied more total takedowns (20-15) than the eighth-ranked Cowboys and more total match points (70-56). 

Spencer Lee began the offensive barrage with two takedowns and four back points in the first period en route to a 10-5 victory over Nick Piccininni at 125 pounds. The Iowa true freshman brought the crowd to its feet, despite looking sluggish in the final two periods.

“Just need to work on my nutrition moving forward,” said Lee, who scored on just two escapes after scoring eight points in the first period. “Just need to keep moving my hands and my feet. It’s a hard sport and this was a tough environment.

“I just need to keep working on my conditioning, my wrestling and keep moving forward.”

The Cowboys took the next two bouts over Iowa’s only questionable lineup spots. At 133, Kaid Brock rolled up Phillip Laux, 16-6, thanks to seven takedowns. Dean Heil followed with a first-period takedown and a 4-0 decision over Vince Turk at 141. Brands said both of those spots remain up for grabs; both Paul Glynn and Carter Happel also weighed in.

“We have to figure out our personnel at 133 and 141,” Brands said. “I don't share a lot of times what I say to these guys when they're on the bench and I'm back talking to them, but I'll tell you — yeah, I'm not going there. I just changed my mind.”

Those two results put the Cowboys up 7-3, but Brandon Sorensen halted the surge with a 23-8 tech-fall over Boo Lewallan at 149 pounds. The senior scored eight takedowns — including five in the third period — and added a riding-time point at the end of regulation to secure the tech.

Sorensen’s result gave the Hawkeyes a lead they would not relinquish. Michael Kemerer finished the first half of the dual with a 9-2 decision over Jonce Blaylock at 157 pounds, wherein Oklahoma State was deducted a team point for “failure to control the mat area” by official Jeff Cook.

“I think he wanted to hit me with something,” Oklahoma State coach John Smith said. “He was involved in the match. I don’t think it was (the referee's) best day. I think he’s a better official than what he showed today. I was a little surprised that he dinged me.

“We talked before the match, and he said a few things to me that gave me an indication that he didn’t want us on the center of the mat. I wasn’t on the center of the mat. I don’t think he influenced the match from the standpoint of the score. It was a tough match.”

Iowa won three of the five matches out of intermission, punctuated by Alex Marinelli’s 5-2 win over Chandler Rogers and Mitch Bowman’s 10-6 win over Keegan Moore. The two combined for five takedowns and their victories effectively put the dual out of reach.

“You just kind of have a feel, and it’s like second nature,” said Bowman, who broke open a 6-6 tie with an escape and a takedown in the third period. “We were out there wrestling, and his knees were kind of going straight a little bit and the hand-fighting was picking up.

“He’s still a really good wrestler and he’s really hard to finish on, especially near the edge. But I knew that if I kept getting in enough, it would help my chances.”

Iowa's Mitch Bowman celebrates his 10-6 decision over Oklahoma State's Keegan Moore at 184 pounds at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018.

In between the victories from Marinelli and Bowman, Oklahoma State took both 174 and 197 — Jacobe Smith over Joey Gunther, 3-1, in the former; Preston Weigh over Cash Wilcke, 6-0, in the latter. It was 17-12 entering the heavyweight match, pitting Iowa’s Sam Stoll against Derek White.

Stoll closed any hope of a possible pin-and-win scenario. He and White went to the second sudden-victory, where Stoll flattened White and spun around for two, bringing the 13,485 fans to their feet one final time for another Iowa victory.

Oklahoma State coaches watch Keegan Moore wrestle Iowa's Mitch Bowman at 184 pounds at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018. Smith won by decision, 3-1. Bowman won by decision, 10-6.

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

No. 3 Iowa 20, No. 8 Oklahoma State 12

125: Spencer Lee (IA) over Nick Piccininni by dec., 10-5
133: Kaid Brock (OSU) over Phillip Laux by maj., 16-6
141: Dean Heil (OSU) over Vince Turk by dec. 4-0
149: Brandon Sorensen (IA) over Boo Lewallan by technical fall, 23-8
157: Michael Kemerer (IA) over Jonce Blaylock by dec., 9-2*
165: Alex Marinelli (IA) over Chandler Rogers by dec., 5-2
174: Jacobe Smith (OSU) over Joey Gunther by dec., 3-1
184: Mitch Bowman (IA) over Keegan Moore by dec., 10-6
197: Preston Weigel (OSU) over Cash Wilcke by dec., 6-0
285: Sam Stoll (IA) over Derek White by dec., 6-4 (SV2)
*Oklahoma State was deducted one team point for failure to control the mat area.