Hawkeye wrestlers roll over Minnesota at home

Cody Goodwin
Hawk Central

IOWA CITY, Ia. — The Iowa wrestling team entered Friday night’s dual against Minnesota riding a two-dual losing streak, something to which the program isn’t normally accustomed.

It turned out the Gophers were the proper antidote to cure those woes.

Iowa's Carter Happel celebrates after pinning Minnesota's Tommy Thorn at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday, Feb. 2, 2018.

The Hawkeyes beat Minnesota, 34-7, here at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa, ranked third nationally by Trackwrestling, improved to 10-2 overall and 5-2 in the Big Ten Conference. The Gophers, meanwhile, dropped to 5-6 overall and are now 3-3 in league action.

"Good hustle," Iowa coach Tom Brands said afterward. "Anytime you can hustle, you give yourself a chance."

Iowa flat-out dominated in this one, winning eight of 10 bouts and scoring bonus points in five of them, including two pins. The Hawkeyes scored far more total match points (78-39) and more than tripled the Gophers’ total takedown output (25-7).

The highlights came from the expected spots in the lineup. The dual began at 149 pounds, and Iowa senior Brandon Sorensen racked up three first-period takedowns against Ben Brancale, then caught Brancale on a suck-back in the second period. He readjusted for the pin in 3 minutes, 32 seconds to put Iowa up 6-0.

"It's not bad. It's a little different," Sorensen said of opening the dual. "You start your warmup a little bit earlier and maybe have a little less fluid in the stomach so you're not out there with a full stomach. It was a little different, but it felt good."

Perhaps the most surprising victory came from Carter Happel over 10th-ranked Tommy Thorn at 141 pounds. Happel scored a takedown in the first period, but trailed 4-3 in the third after a Thorn escape. Happel then took Thorn, a retu down and secured the fall with 2 seconds remaining.

"He looked different coming out there," Brands said of Happel, who's been in competition with Vince Turk for the starting spot at 141. "I mean, his energy was different … He was throwing his legs back, running and chasing angles and trying to score in go-behind situations, getting to his offense.

"And he pinned the guy. A little bit of momentum there at 141 for Carter Happel. That's how you like to see guys wrestle, and that's how you like to see guys turn things around from, say, the last time out."

Spencer Lee produced yet another stellar victory for his still-growing résumé. The true freshman scored a 15-0 technical fall over Minnesota’s Ethan Lizak, a returning NCAA finalist at 125 pounds. Lee went takedown plus four backs in the first period; a reversal, four more backs and a stalling point in the second; and scored a walk-off takedown in the third.

It was Lee's fourth straight win over a ranked opponent, and his third during that stretch over a returning NCAA All-American.

"I knew that I had to keep my offense going, wrestle hard and hopefully things would go my way," Lee said. "It did tonight. It was a lot of fun."

The rest of the dual was a workmanlike outing for the Hawkeyes. Michael Kemerer returned after taking last week off, and with a taped-up right knee, the sophomore racked up five takedowns en route to a 16-6 major over Jake Short.

"Just wanted to focus on moving my feet and staying patient," Kemerer said. "Just being patient with my attacks, waiting for things to open up, making things happen. In the second period, I got to my setups and got my shots off."

Alex Marinelli followed with another victory over another ranked opponent. The redshirt freshman used a third-period takedown to defeat Nick Wanzek, 5-1, at 165 pounds. Joey Gunther also returned to the lineup and scored two takedowns in a 5-1 win over Chris Pfarr at 174.

Iowa's Alex Marinelli celebrates his win over Minnesota's Nick Wanzek at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday, Feb. 2, 2018. Marinelli won by decision, 5-1.

Sam Stoll joined the takedown party, scoring four of his own in a 12-1 major over Rylee Streifel at heavyweight. Cash Wilcke racked up three first-period takedowns of his own, but withstood a strong comeback attempt by Dylan Anderson to win, 10-7, at 197.

Iowa’s two losses came from Mitch Bowman at 184 and Paul Glynn at 133. Bowman again struggled getting out from bottom, giving up six total back points in a 10-2 loss to Brandon Krone. Glynn showed some encouraging signs in a 7-2 loss to 10th-ranked Mitch McKee, wherein he scored a second-period takedown.

"He got in some horsepower positions and he's showing he can wrestle better there," Brands said of Glynn. "That's probably the one that where the way we were wrestling, there were still some things where we could've won that match." 

Happel followed with his pin, bringing the 9,335 in attendance to their feet. It was a emphatic way to end a lopsided victory over a rival — Friday's victory was Iowa's fourth straight victory over Minnesota. Brands hopes the team can capture that momentum and put it to use when Northwestern comes to town on Sunday. The dual is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.

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

No. 3 Iowa 34, No. 22 Minnesota 7

149: Brandon Sorensen (IA) over Ben Brancale (MN) by fall in 3:32
157: Michael Kemerer (IA) over Jake Short (MN) by major, 16-6
165: Alex Marinelli (IA) over Nick Wanzel (MN), 5-1
174: Joey Gunther (IA) over Chris Pfarr (MN), 5-1
184: Brandon Krone (MN) over Mitch Bowman (IA) by major, 10-2
197: Cash Wilcke (IA) over Dylan Anderson (MN), 10-7
285: Sam Stoll (IA) over Rylee Streifel (MN), 12-1
125: Spencer Lee (IA) over Ethan Lizak (MN) by technical fall, 15-0
133: Mitch McKee (MN) over Paul Glynn (IA), 7-2
141: Carter Happel (IA) over Tommy Thorn (MN) by fall in 6:58