In 2018, 34 Iowa high school wrestlers earned All-American honors at the Cadet and Junior Freestyle and Greco-Roman National Championships in Fargo, North Dakota.
IOWA CITY, Ia. — Kaleb Young made his unofficial debut at his new weight on Thursday afternoon, and we can say confidently now that the sophomore from Pennsylvania handled the weight cut just fine.
After a year of serving as the backup at both 165 and 174 pounds, Young made the drop to 157 ahead of the 2018-19 season. On Thursday, he won twice during the first day of the Iowa wrestling team’s wrestle-offs, beating Preston Stephenson, 20-4, and Jeremiah Moody, 12-4.
It's important to note that, yes, it was just one day, and both wins were over his own teammates, but Young was perhaps the most impressive during the Hawkeyes’ preseason exhibition inside the Dan Gable Wrestling Complex, for a number of reasons.
For starters, there was curiosity as to how he might handle the weight cut. As a senior at Punxsutawney High School, he won state at 160 pounds. His first two years in the Iowa room, he competed at 165 and, at times, 174. Last year, he went 9-7 overall.
After Thursday, it appears the cut was no problem at all. Young looked big and explosive and fast. Against Stephenson, he rolled up six takedowns and two sets of back points for a 20-4 technical fall midway through the second period.
Against Moody, Young racked up five takedowns and secured a riding-time point for a 12-4 major decision. Moody had himself a heck of a summer to add his name to the mix of wrestlers who could contend at 157 — UWW Junior freestyle national champ, Pan-American gold medalist — but Young blew threw Moody without much resistance.
There’s still another match for Young to wrestle on Day Two of the team’s wrestle-offs, set for Friday at 3:30 p.m. at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. He’ll get Jeren Glosser, who looked real solid in a 10-5 win over Danny Murphy, thanks three takedowns and a reversal.
Winner of that matchup will be the presumed starter at 157 for Iowa to start the season. Glosser is tough, aggressive and technically sound, but the way Young looked on Thursday, it’d be hard to bet against him.
MORE WRESTLING COVERAGE FROM THE DES MOINES REGISTER
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- HAWKEYES: Iowa announces wrestle-off dates, schedule changes
- CYCLONES: A weight-by-weight look of the 2018-19 Iowa State wrestling team
- MORE CYCLONES: 'This team can be good' says head coach Kevin Dresser
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Murin, Turk to collide at 141
The starting spot at 141 pounds is going to be between Max Murin and Vince Turk. Murin beat Carter Happel, 3-1, on Thursday while Turk advanced past Justin Stickley, 6-3.
Murin looks chiseled for a 141-pounder. He was noticeably bigger than Happel, and used his motor to secure a late first-period takedown, which proved to be the difference in the match. When in neutral, he held position really well, stifling most all of Happel’s offensive attempts.
Turk needed a late takedown to beat Stickley. He scored a takedown in the first, but Stickley tied it with a reversal just before the end of the period. They traded escapes in the second and third, then Turk scored a takedown on the edge for a 5-3 lead, then added another point for riding time.
That 141-pound final might be the biggest match to watch on Friday.
Nelson Brands still has a lot of horsepower
Nelson Brands made a name for himself at Iowa City West as a high-motor, takedown machine. On Thursday, he showcased that exact same intensity in a 28-12 technical fall over Tristan McDonald at 165 pounds.
Brands was relentless, piling up 13 takedowns — and only two came in the first period. It was about midway through the second that he flipped the switch and just played catch-and-release with McDonald. Brands scored six takedowns in the third period alone.
I was curious if that high-motor would translate to the college level. McDonald isn’t a world-beater by any means — he went just 1-2 last season — but that horsepower Brands used with regularity in high school worked on this day, and that was good to see.
Other quick takeaways and observations
- Spencer Lee was Spencer Lee against Perez Perez — takedown, tilt, tilt, tilt, Perez escape, takedown for a 16-1 technical fall at 125 pounds.
- Austin DeSanto beat Paul Glynn, 6-3, at 133. He scored two takedowns in the first, then put a mean third-period ride on Glynn for a riding-time point.
- Pat Lugo looked solid in a 14-3 win over Zach Axmear at 149 pounds. Three takedowns in the first period, then a takedown to a cradle in the second for a near pin on the edge.
- True freshman Tony Cassioppi beat Aaron Costello, 2-0, at heavyweight. Cassioppi rode out Costello in the second period — where he showed off his strength in the form of mat returns and, well, just riding him — and escaped in the third. Lots of hand-fighting. Costello held position fairly well.
- I was eye-balling it, but there was probably a couple hundred people inside the wrestling room for Thursday's matches.
Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.
Iowa Wrestle-Offs, Day One Results
- 197 -- Connor Corbin dec. Cade Brownlee, 3-2
- 141 -- Justin Stickley tech. fall Cam Shaver, 20-2
- 157 -- Danny Murphy dec. Keegan Shaw, 2-1
- 157 -- Jeremiah Moody dec. Joe Kelly, 6-2
- 157 -- Kaleb Young tech. fall Preston Stephenson, 19-4
- 125 -- Spencer Lee tech. fall Perez Perez, 16-1
- 133 -- Austin DeSanto dec. Paul Glynn, 5-3
- 141 -- Max Murin dec. Carter Happel, 3-1
- 149 -- Pat Lugo major dec. Zach Axmear, 14-3
- 165 -- Nelson Brands tech. fall Tristan McDonald, 28-12
- 285 -- Tony Cassioppi dec. Aaron Costello, 2-0
- 197 -- Myles Wilson tech. fall Cade Brownlee, 15-0
- 157 -- Jeren Glosser dec. Danny Murphy, 10-5
- 157 -- Kaleb Young major dec. Jeremiah Moody, 12-4