Iowa coach Tom Brands discusses where his team’s confidence level is at heading into the postseason. Cody Goodwin/Hawk Central
AMES, Ia. — Here is what a team that is chasing trophy at next month’s NCAA Championships sounds like:
“Coach just told me to go out there and do what you know, get it over with and get off the mat,” Iowa’s Spencer Lee said. “We’re gearing toward the postseason. I’m excited. It’s going to be a lot of fun, Big Tens and nationals.”
“I feel like we’re on our game and we’re focused,” added Alex Marinelli, Lee’s teammate. “We’re just ready to go. We’ve got Big Tens coming, and big things ahead of us.”
“It doesn’t matter if it’s a mismatch or not,” Tom Brands, their coach, said. “There’s knockout blows in this sport — one second, with both shoulders on the mat, and you can get beat. So you have to be ready to go. Our guys went out ready to go for the most part. I felt good about it.
“That’s what we’re about. You want to finish holds. You want to finish matches. You want to finish the season strong. That’s where we’re at.”
And here is what a team in full-rebuild mode sounds like.
“We’ve made some progress this year,” Iowa State coach Kevin Dresser said, “but any time you wrestle good teams, you get exposed. Iowa is a very good team. We knew that coming in. The frustrating part for the coaching staff is that we just didn’t compete in some weights.
“I think we have guys that got black-and-gold-singlet-itis, that they were intimidated by the black-and-gold singlet. I get it because I wore one, and I saw guys crumble just because of the singlet I was wearing. We’ve got some guys that, truth be told, had that a little bit.”
There is a contrast in tone and expectation, and on Sunday afternoon inside Hilton Coliseum, the difference was more than apparent on the scoreboard. The Iowa wrestling team beat Iowa State, 35-6, before a crowd of 8,861, the largest wrestling crowd at Hilton since Dec. 6, 2009.
Iowa State wrestling coach Kevin Dresser talks to the media after Sunday’s loss to Iowa. Cody Goodwin/The Register
The Hawkeyes cap the 2017-18 regular season at 12-3 overall, and will bring the Dan Gable Traveling Trophy back to Iowa City, where it’s lived rent free since its inception in 2010. Iowa has now won 14 straight in the series, 13 straight with Brands as the head coach, and 29 out of the last 30.
Sunday's dual was a microcosm of that domination. Iowa won all nine contested matches, as the Cyclones’ six points came from a forfeit at 197 pounds. The Hawkeyes had far more takedowns (22-1) and total match points (64-27) than their Iowa State counterparts. Only one Cyclone wrestler scored more than five match points.
Of Iowa’s nine match victories, four came with bonus points. Vince Turk piled up four takedowns en route to a 13-5 major decision over Ian Parker at 141 pounds. Sam Stoll closed the dual with a 14-4 major over Marcus Harrington at heavyweight, wherein Stoll recorded five takedowns and forced Harrington into four stalling calls.
The others were pins. Lee opened the dual with a 40-second fall over Sinjin Briggs, which is the fastest pin for any Iowa wrestler this season. Marinelli then added his out of the intermission, putting Skyler St. John down in 52 seconds. His pin put Iowa up 25-0, which put the dual out of reach with still four weights to go.
Alex Marinelli recorded a first-period pin on Sunday in Iowa’s win over Iowa State. Chad Leistikow/Hawk Central
The forfeit at 197 was a point of contention afterward. Steven Holloway weighed in for Iowa at 197 — Brands said that normal starter Cash Wilcke is fine, adding, “There’s a flu bug going around Iowa City, Iowa” — but Brands opted to keep Holloway on the bench when the time came.
“Holloway has an injury. He was ready to go if we needed him,” Brands said. “We weighed in one guy there, and the right thing to do is to protect our guy.”
Dresser had different thoughts. He called the forfeit a “chicken-blank move.”
“You know, we went a found a guy at 7-11 and wrestled him all year at 125,” Dresser continued, “and they weigh in a guy at 197 and don’t wrestle him. OK. That’s probably the difference between the two programs.
“The day will come when we even the score here and this will be a dual meet. We don’t roll that way, but they can roll how they want to roll.”
Post-meet chatter aside, the most-entertaining match came at 133, where Paul Glynn beat Markus Simmons 8-7. Simmons held a 7-0 lead in the second with 2-plus minutes of riding time in hand, but Glynn scored a takedown and scored four backs off a cradle to be within 7-6 entering the third. Another takedown followed by a ride-out sealed the win.
“It gives you a little confidence boost,” Glynn said. “It’s good to get that win before the postseason, but if I would’ve lost that match, I still would’ve had to move forward, so we’re moving forward either way.”
That’s a quote from a guy on the team that’s hunting for its 10th NCAA trophy in the last 11 years. It’s something Dresser hopes his guys — “redshirts, backups, everybody,” he said — begin thinking about sooner rather than later.
“You get famous at practice, and you have to make practice a war and you have to make it real,” he continued. “I hope my guys are watching this … the sooner we get that across the board, we’ll rock and roll.”
Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.
No. 3 Iowa 35, Iowa State 6
125: Spencer Lee (IA) over Sinjin Briggs (ISU) by fall, :40
133: Paul Glynn (IA) over Markus Simmons (ISU), 8-7
141: Vince Turk (IA) over Ian Parker (ISU) by major, 13-5
149: Brandon Sorensen (IA) over Jarrett Degen (ISU), 7-4
157: Michael Kemerer (IA) over Chase Straw (ISU), 11-5
165: Alex Marinelli (IA) over Skyler St. John (ISU) by fall, :52
174: Joey Gunther (IA) over Danny Bush (ISU), 4-0
184: Mitch Bowman (IA) over Dan Pestano (ISU), 3-2
197: Sam Colbray (ISU) by forfeit
285: Sam Stoll (IA) over Marcus Harrington (ISU) by major, 14-4