Wrestling: Bonus points lead Hawkeyes to win over Lehigh

Cody Goodwin
Hawk Central

IOWA CITY, Ia. — After a few uneven weeks, where injuries and illnesses forced backups into starting roles, the Iowa wrestling team turned in a workmanlike performance on Saturday night against Lehigh.

The Hawkeyes beat the Mountain Hawks, 28-14, before 7,434 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa, ranked third nationally by Trackwrestling, improves to 6-0 overall as it enters a three-week break before the Midlands Championships at the end of the month. No. 15 Lehigh drops to 0-4.

“There is improvement,” Iowa coach Tom Brands said, “but we have to keep getting better.”

Iowa's Austin DeSanto, right, wrestles Lehigh's Brandon Paetzell at 133 during a NCAA wrestling dual on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City.

This was an outing many Iowa fans have grown accustomed to seeing. The Hawkeyes held a large advantage in both total match points (96-51) and total takedowns (27-12). They took seven of the 10 contested matches and scored bonus points in five of those victories.

Spencer Lee, Iowa’s starting 125-pounder and defending national champion, opened the night with a quick 15-0 technical fall over Luke Resnick. He scored a takedown and added 12 points on three tilts. A couple of stalling calls ended the match after two minutes and 30 seconds.

The bonus points then came in a hurry. Austin DeSanto beat Brandon Paetzell by a 19-8 major decision at 133. Max Murin then secured a 14-3 major over Dan Moran at 141. Both guys lost matches on late takedowns against their Iowa State counterparts last week. On Saturday, they combined for 12 total takedowns, including six in the third period.

At 149 pounds, Pat Lugo added a 12-3 major over Jimmy Hoffman, rolling up three takedowns and nearly pinning him in the first period. Alex Marinelli’s 20-5 technical fall over Trey Cornish out of the intermission gave Iowa a 25-0 team lead, putting the dual out of reach with four matches still to go.

“The coaches weren’t going crazy about bonus points, but you want bonus points,” said Lee, who’s ranked No. 1 and now 5-0 so far this season. “That’s the goal, right? The coaches were telling us to be more relaxed and to wrestle the whole match, seven minutes.

“Last week, me included, we had some work to do, and that was the plan this week getting ready for Lehigh.”

The dual had the potential to be a fun one. Lehigh, despite a winless record, boasts a roster with six wrestlers ranked at their respective weights by Trackwrestling. That meant there was a possibility of seeing six matchups between ranked wrestlers.

Ultimately, just one materialized. Iowa’s Kaleb Young, who ascended to No. 5 nationally at 157 pounds, took on Josh Humphreys, a freshman ranked 15th. Young scored a first-period takedown and used a mean third-period ride to win 5-1.

There could’ve been another at 184 pounds, between Iowa’s Cash Wilcke, ranked 17th, and Lehigh’s Ryan Preisch, ranked 7th. Mountain Hawk coach Pat Santoro instead sent out backup Andrew Price and Wilcke scored two late takedowns to win, 6-4, in sudden victory.

“I saw Wilcke in a slow-paced, strategic match,” Brands said. “It was too slow at the beginning, but then that guy started to fade. You know what, you don't have to wait. I think Cash Wilcke can feel good about that because he didn't feel good, he gutted it out and that guy faded.

“We didn't really start wrestling and putting things together until we could sense that he was fading a little bit. I think he can get to those guys in the first period. I mean, why not? I think that's a lesson. That's how you talk to him.”

Iowa's Cash Wilcke gets a takedown on Andrew Price at 184 during a NCAA wrestling dual on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City. Wilcke scored a decision over Price, 6-4.

Iowa’s losses came from the backups who took the mat. Jeremiah Moody, Steven Holloway and Aaron Costello filled in for the Hawkeyes at 174, 197 and 285 pounds, respectively. Moody filled in after Myles Wilson injured his knee last week, and both Jacob Warner and Sam Stoll were given the night off because the dual was not in doubt by the time it reached their weights.

Moody, Holloway and Costello, though, all gave up bonus points — Moody lost to returning All-American by a 12-3 major; Costello to sixth-ranked Jordan Wood by 13-3 major; and Holloway to 13th-ranked Jake Jakobsen by fall in 61 seconds.

“Guys like Costello and Moody — guys that we’re relying on as backup — they need to go with those top-tier guys in the country,” Brands said. “Costello, I think he can stay in there with those guys. He’s getting some good experience, but that’s not what it’s about. Moody, same thing.

“It’s not about just getting experience. Over the last month, we’ve relied heavily on backups, and it’s important that those backups continue to get better.”

The Hawkeyes now get a three-week break before the Midlands where Brands will bring more than just the starting 10. A handful of reserves, as well as redshirts, are expected to be in action. Mitch Bowman, who’s provided depth at 184 and 197 during the first month, will be down at 174 pounds where he’ll presumably be the front-runner for the starting spot.

Until then, Brands believes his team has plenty on which it can improve. Saturday night’s showing was a good response after the Cyclones took Iowa to the brink last week. He wants to see more growth between now and the second half of the season.

“We have to wrestle the whole seven minutes,” said Murin, who’s ranked 17th at 141 and now 5-1 this season. “In three matches (last week), we lost at the end and it almost cost us. It was a good lesson for the rest of the season, for everybody on the team.

“There’s nothing we can do about it now except learn from it. I feel like we did a good job tonight.”

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

No. 3 Iowa 28, No. 15 Lehigh 14

125: Spencer Lee (IA) tech. fall Luke Resnick (LH) 15-0 (2:30)
133: Austin DeSanto (IA) maj. dec. Brandon Paetzell (LH) 19-8
141: Max Murin (IA) maj. dec. Dan Moran (LH) 14-3
149: Pat Lugo (IA) maj. dec. Jimmy Hoffman (LH) 12-3
157: Kaleb Young (IA) dec. Josh Humphreys (LH) 4-1
165: Alex Marinelli (IA) tech. fall Trey Cornish (LH) 20-5
174: Jordan Kutler (LH) maj. dec. Jeremiah Moody (IA) 12-3
184: Cash Wilcke (IA) dec. Andrew Price (LH) 6-4 (SV1)
197: Jake Jakobsen (LH) pinned Steven Holloway (IA), 1:01
285: Jordan Wood (LH) maj. dec. Aaron Costello (IA) 13-3