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Iowa State wrestling coach Kevin Dresser talks about the decision around true freshman David Carr at the team's media day on Tuesday. Cody Goodwin, cgoodwin2@dmreg.com

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There’s always varying levels of intrigue during the various open tournaments in the early portion of the college wrestling season. We tend to see results that are surprising or interesting, or both, like Spencer Lee at the UNI Open, or Jacob Warner at Lindenwood, or the Midlands and the Southern Scuffle.

This past weekend, Southeast Polk High School hosted the Grand View Open, and among the many new and old faces that competed, the finals match between Jeremiah Moody and David Carr was perhaps the most fascinating.

Carr beat Moody, 10-0, in the finals at 157 pounds. Trackwrestling says it was 9-0, but this writer kept track and found a missing riding-time point for Carr. The match itself, though, incited curiosity.

For one, it was a chance to see Carr, Iowa State’s super recruit, against Moody, one of the many depth pieces in the Iowa room. These Cy-Hawk wrestling battles are only going to become more compelling in the coming years, so seeing this now may help provide context down the road.

On top of that, it was interesting to see them compete against one another because of their respective days on the mat, as they each took different paths to the finals. 

Moody continued to bolster the idea that he’s becoming more of a freestyle specialist. After a first-round pin, he outscored his next three opponents a combined 44-26, wherein he scored 15 takedowns in three matches. He needed a stalling point to hold off Iowa Lakes’ David Hollingsworth, 5-4, in the quarterfinals, and an overtime takedown to defeat Grand View’s Steven Lawrence in the semifinals, 14-12.

Carr did not see nearly the same offensive success, winning three straight decisions to reach the finals wherein he scored a combined 14 points. He was solid defensively and was never truly threatened. He nearly finished some other shots in each match that would’ve upped his total scoring output.

In the finals, everything flipped. Carr led 6-0 after the first period thanks to a takedown and a set for four back points. He rode out Moody the entire second period, entering the third with 3 minutes, 7 seconds of riding time. Another escape and a takedown in the third sealed the deal.

It’s a nice win for Carr. Moody’s credentials, while freestyle specific, are still impressive — UWW Junior national champ, Pan-American gold medalist. But he’s still third on the folkstyle ladder in Iowa’s room.

Carr, meanwhile, showed why the expectations for him are high. On the day, he went 4-0 and outscored his opponents 24-6. Outside of Moody, his competition wasn’t full of super great wrestlers. We’ll surely learn more about him — and perhaps Moody, too — at other open tournaments throughout the season.

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Nelson Brands continues to impress

Iowa sent a handful of guys to the Grand View Open. Nelson Brands was among them, and he looked impressive again in a 3-0 showing at 165 pounds.

Brands scored bonus points in each of his matches. He recorded a first-period pin over Lindenwood’s Ron Evans, a 19-4 technical fall over Grand View’s Sal Arzani in the quarters, and a 12-4 major over Indiana Tech’s Jacob Gross in the semifinals. He won by medical forfeit in the finals, per Trackwrestling.

In those three matches, Brands combined to score 45 match points — he was up 14-3 when he pinned Evans — and scored 15 takedowns. Even more, he flashed his high-motor late in matches, as seven of his 15 takedowns came in the third period.

None of these guys were world-beaters like, say, Iowa starter Alex Marinelli, but it’s encouraging to see Brands continue to find success as he opens his collegiate career.

Tony Cassioppi pins to first

Among the other Iowa participants this weekend, Tony Cassioppi also made his college debut, and it went exactly like how much of the later part of his high school career went.

Which is to say, Cassioppi scored lots of pins.

The true freshman recorded four pins en route to first on Saturday. All of them came in the first period, as he spent a grand total of 9:03 on the mat all day. His fastest came in 1:06 against Life’s Jimsher Sudhu. 

Most notably, Cassioppi pinned Iowa State’s Ethan Andersen in the quarterfinals, and then stuck Grand View’s Copper Thomas in the finals. It was an impressive first showing from the Illinois native.

Alex Thomsen returns home to compete

Former Underwood star Alex Thomsen, now at Nebraska, also competed at the Grand View Open this past weekend. Thomsen, a recent four-time Iowa state champion, looked very good in a first-place finish at 125 pounds.

Thomsen rolled to three convincing wins while competing unattached. He racked up a 20-5 technical fall over Life’s Randy McCray, a 14-6 major over Indiana Tech’s Sawyer Miller and a 9-4 win over Grand View’s Justin Portillo, another former Iowa high school wrestling star, in the finals.

In total, Thomsen recorded 14 takedowns in his three matches. He’s redshirting this season, but we’ll likely see his name pop up from time to time over the next five years. It’s always cool to see former Iowa high school wrestlers do well at the Division I level.

Other takeaways and observations from the Grand View Open

  • Iowa’s Justin Stickley won at 141 pounds. He went 4-0 and picked up wins over Iowa State’s Ryan Leisure (6-3) and Grand View’s Eric Clark (5-3), the latter of whom is ranked fourth nationally in Intermat’s NAIA poll. Leisure came back to finish third.
  • Iowa’s Keegan Shaw took third at 157. He dropped his first bout to Iowa State’s Carr, 6-3, then rolled up five straight wins on the backside, including four with bonus points.
  • Grand View’s Evan Hansen reached the finals at 197 pounds, a run that included an intriguing semifinal victory over Iowa State’s Kaden Sauer. Hansen won that match, 5-4, holding off two late takedowns from Sauer, who came back to finish third.
  • Danny Bush and Hank Swalla met in an all-Iowa State final 184. Bush came out on top by a 10-2 major, capping a day where he went 4-0 with two pins and two majors. Swalla recorded three straight decisions to reach the finals.

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

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