Wrestling mailbag: Final Cy-Hawk thoughts, the Iowa Eight selection process and Dan Gable’s beer

Cody Goodwin
Hawk Central

I hope Saturday’s Iowa-Iowa State dual was a sign of what's coming in that rivalry.

That dual was electric, in more ways than one, and it has been a long time since both the Hawkeyes and Cyclones competed so closely and created an atmosphere so rowdy.

Prior to Saturday, I caught myself watching old Iowa-Iowa State duals. They’re on YouTube if you’re interested. I loved watching the action from back in the 1980s and 1990s. The crowds inside Hilton Coliseum were bananas, and the fans inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena were ruthless. It was great to watch.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think we’d see something similar on Saturday.

Iowa's Alex Marinelli is introduced before his match at 165 during a NCAA Cy-Hawk series wrestling dual on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City.

The Iowa State fans in attendance grew louder throughout those first six matches, and they were screaming when Austin Gomez sent Austin DeSanto to his back in that final match. It was quite a thing to witness, because as DeSanto slowly rolled his way through, the cheers shifted to the entire Iowa contingent.

I’ve seen some pretty awesome duals in Carver, but I actually got goosebumps when Sam Stoll walked out of the tunnel and took the mat. Given the weight of the situation and the way the dual had gone, it was an amazing moment.

When the fans stood in applause afterward, it was hard to decipher who, exactly, they were cheering for — Iowa, for winning; Iowa State, for the fight; or both, for the entertainment.

I hope future Cy-Hawk duals create similar atmospheres and create that kind of high-intensity drama. This state needs it. This sport needs it. It was amazing.

Now, then. Onto the wrestling mailbag. We’ve got another full weekend of wrestling ahead: Iowa-Lehigh on Saturday, as well as the UNI Open. There’s the Council Bluffs Classic on Friday and Saturday, a premier high school tournament with plenty of Iowa teams in action.

Please give me a follow on Twitter and I’ll keep you up to date on all things wrestling In Iowa. Thanks for your help here, and for reading.

Depends on which lens through which you viewed the dual, to be honest.

For Iowa State, that dual had to spark some confidence, especially for guys such as Ian Parker and Sam Colbray. I considered 141 a swing match in that dual, because Parker’s pretty dang good when he’s healthy. But Colbray picking off Cash Wilcke wasn’t something I expected. He looked great.

You can also find little things here and there, too. Jarrett Degen had to score late to force overtime, then showed his motor by scoring again in the first tiebreaker. Austin Gomez is going to be a problem for other 133-pounders around the country.

In short, the Cyclones are going to be a fun team to watch in March.

For Iowa, a big takeaway might be the team’s mental fortitude. A lot of things had to happen for Iowa State to take that dual to the wire — upsets (at 184), winning the swing matches (141, 149, 133) and catching a break (injury default at 174). 

All of that happened, and Iowa still won the dual.

Jacob Warner’s guts were a big reason why. So was Alex Marinelli’s pin. In the post-match press conference, Tom Brands made it clear that, going in, he would’ve preferred it if Sam Stoll, Spencer Lee and Austin DeSanto all sat. But they all went, and, by then, had a direct impact on the Hawkeyes’ win.

There are reasons to complain as well. Max Murin scored four points in a period and lost his match. Wilcke and Pat Lugo can’t give up late takedowns, and 174 looks like a short-term issue.

I wasn’t kidding when there was so much to digest from the dual. It was nutty and crazy and provided the kind of theater we normally see in March. 

► CY-HAWK THRILLER:Iowa wrestling edges Iowa State

Closer than people think.

In terms of years, I think they could conceivably compete for, say, fourth place within the next year or two. This could be their lineup next season:

  • 125: Alex Mackall
  • 133: Austin Gomez
  • 141: Ian Parker
  • 149: Jarrett Degen
  • 157: David Carr
  • 165: Brady Jennings
  • 174: Marcus Coleman
  • 184: Sam Colbray/Joel Shapiro
  • 197: Kaden Sauer/Joel Shapiro/Hunter DeJong/somebody else?
  • 285: Gannon Gremmel/Ethan Andersen/Francis Duggan

That’s a pretty tough lineup. You’ve got guys who, I think, can be major point-scorers in Gomez and Carr; other guys who are capable of making a run in Parker, Degen, Coleman, Colbray and even Gremmel. I also think Mackall has an opportunity to throw his name in the ring at 125 this year.

I’m not saying that Iowa State is going to have eight All-Americans next season, but they’re going to be competitive and will score points and generally be a team to watch that nobody wants to wrestle.

It takes a team effort to win a trophy in March, and it’s easy to see a competitive Iowa State team moving forward. 

► MORE: 14 things we learned from the epic Iowa-Iowa State wrestling dual

Iowa State's Austin Gomez, right, wrestles Iowa's Austin DeSanto at 133 during a NCAA Cy-Hawk series wrestling dual on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City.

I already addressed Iowa’s side of things in an earlier question, so I’ll go straight to the Midlands part of the question here. I agree that things will be different. We’ll learn a lot from that weekend.

The Midlands is Dec. 29-30, which means Iowa will get three whole weeks off from competition after its dual against Lehigh on Saturday. Those three weeks will be crucial as the Hawkeyes heal up from their respective ailments.

These past four weeks have been a grind. They wrestled twice at Kent State, then at home against a scrappy Princeton team, then at home again against Purdue, then Iowa State, and now a game Lehigh squad is coming to town. After the Midlands, they’ll get another two weeks before ramping back up for the season’s second half, beginning Jan. 13 at Minnesota.

All of this is to say that I’m sure Iowa will welcome the time away from competition. It’ll allow them time to heal, but also time to grow. They can get into the film and really hammer home what’s worked and what hasn’t during these first six duals. They can focus on technique (and finals) and figure some things out before a stiff Midlands field.

This is an intriguing question. I normally don’t compare wrestlers in this sense, because unless someone is an exact replica of another, all wrestlers are different. They all have different ticks and techniques, and comparing them to greats just seems unnecessary and unfair.

But there are some Brent Metcalf tendencies that I see in Marinelli.

Metcalf constantly applied pressure to his opponents, and used that to set up his offense. Marinelli does that. Metcalf often got into ties and hung on his opponents’ heads. Marinelli does that, too.

Most notably, Metcalf loved to pin people — of his 108 career victories at Iowa, he recorded 47 by fall. Marinelli is 24-6 for his career, with eight pins.

So there are some small tendencies they share. Marinelli is bigger than Metcalf was. Metcalf often held one hand close to the ground as the first line of defense, something Brandon Sorensen picked up early in his Iowa career. Haven’t seen much of that out of Marinelli.

Of course, now that you’ve asked this question, I’m going to watch for it a little more.

Iowa's Alex Marinelli, right, wrestles Iowa State's Brady Jennings at 165 during a NCAA Cy-Hawk series wrestling dual on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City.

Zero chance Nelson Brands goes at 174 this year. They want him in the room for as long as possible, and that means redshirting this season and wrestling him off at either 157 or 165 next year to see if he can crack the lineup.

Honestly, at 174 pounds, keep an eye on Jeremiah Moody as someone who could slide up and potentially contend for that spot. He’s a more natural 165-pounder, and he looked like he was cutting a lot of weight to make 157 during the wrestle-offs, so going at 174 will allow him to eat more. Who knows? Maybe he goes there on Saturday.

If Warner’s injury is anything long-term, I would expect Connor Corbin to be the first guy to fill in. Corbin wrestled there against Kent State and Princeton. He seems like the most reasonable option if Mitch Bowman is truly on his way down to 174.

This, for those who didn’t know, is in reference to the American Wrestling League action last Friday. Cory Clark and Tony Ramos wrestled, and Clark won convincingly, 8-0.

It’s not my place to say what someone should and shouldn’t do with their wrestling career. If Ramos wants to keep competing, I expect that he’ll find some level of success over the next couple of years. He’s a gamer. That’s what he does.

But I will say that the field is only going to get tougher as we close in on the 2020 Olympic Trials.

If Ramos decides to go at 57 kilograms (125.6 pounds) for the U.S. Open, he’ll likely have to deal with Thomas Gilman, potentially Daton Fix (again), maybe even Nico Megaludis. Spencer Lee could also be a factor, as well as other current 125-pounders at the NCAA level. That’s a tough field.

If he goes at 61 (134.5 pounds), there’s Clark, obviously. There’s also Joe Colon, a returning world medalist; Nahshon Garrett, the world-team member who beat Colon at Final X; in addition to Tyler Graff, Seth Gross, and any of the 57s who might bump up and any other current 133-pounders at the NCAA level.

So it’s a deep field, and Ramos is part of the reason why it’s a deep field. No question he could make a run and beat out a lot of those names. It will be interesting to see what he does moving forward.

The Greco part of this question is really intriguing. I think more Senior-level freestyle guys who aren’t top three on the ladder at their respective weights should give Greco a shot.

It would inject life into a style of wrestling that’s grown in recent years, and that tells you a lot about the state of Greco in this country. It’s grown, but it still struggles to capture the attention of the U.S. wrestling fans outside of the world championships and viral highlights.

I’d love to see Ramos give Greco a shot. I’d love to see Clark give Greco a try. I could keep going down a list of wrestlers who would be great at Greco, but I’ve already rambled enough and we can talk about this more at length later on.

But, hey. Make Greco Great Again. I’m here for that.

AWL:Cory Clark, Sammy Brooks, Kyven Gadson all win in Cedar Rapids

We released our Iowa Eight for the 2018-19 wrestling season last week. If you haven’t seen it, go here, then come back and keep reading, please.

This year’s Iowa Eight was extremely hard to narrow down. Normally, with football and boys’ and girls’ basketball, the goal of the Iowa Eight is based largely on recruitment and future potential.

We take the same things into account for wrestling. But, by and large, we’re looking for the best pound-for-pound wrestlers in the state. In doing so, we take each wrestler's body of work into consideration when making these decisions.

That means folkstyle, freestyle and Greco-Roman success, including state titles, pre- and postseason tournament results, and how they fare against others on the national stage. I follow wrestling all 12 months and have kept a watchful eye out to help me with these decisions.

We tend to throw head-to-heads out when formulating both this list and our preseason All-Iowa teams. We save that specific criteria for the All-Iowa teams after the season.

To follow up on your specific point: Yes, some of guys selected in this year’s Iowa Eight don’t have state titles (Drake Ayala, Caleb Rathjen, Spencer Trenary), while some of the "just missed" do (John Henrich, Adam Allard, Nick Oldham). Cael Happel hasn’t found near the same freestyle and Greco success as some other Iowa Eight picks, but he’s been absolutely dominant in two state title runs. 

You could make strong cases for any of those "just missed" guys to be in the Iowa Eight. Believe me when I say I went through all of them.

This year was tougher than most to narrow down the field to eight. I opened the discussion with other wrestling minds and contacts with about 20 names. I took a few months to narrow it down to my top eight and my next six. 

It’s a challenge every year, and nobody is going to feel sorry for me. I get that. 

► MORE PREP WRESTLING: The Register's Preseason All-Iowa Team

I’d like to think one would be a stout and the other would be a porter. There’s not much difference in those types of beers, but the distinctions are subtly noticeable if you pay attention.

To steal a line from Flowrestling’s “Terry” film, a biopic of Iowa’s associate head coach, former Iowa great Royce Alger said when describing their respective wrestling styles: “Tom thinks it through a little bit more. Terry will just run you over.”

In that case, I think Tom’s beer would be a porter. Dark beer with some malt and hops. I think it would be called Extremely Disciplined. Another name could be Moving Forward.

That leaves Terry as the stout, which is basically a porter with stronger amount of ingredients. I think the easy beer name here is The Terry. Or, perhaps, You Get What You Earn.

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