Hawkeye wrestlers remain perfect with strong win over Minnesota
There are always a few givens when the Iowa and Minnesota wrestling teams meet up each winter.
There will be fireworks.
There will be intense, heated matchups.
And, more often than not, the Hawkeyes emerge victorious.
Such was the case Sunday, when the two competed before a sold-out crowd inside the Maturi Pavilion in Minneapolis. In the 104th meeting between these two storied programs, Iowa defeated Minnesota, 24-10.
“We have guys that want to wrestle, and we have guys that get ready to wrestle,” Iowa coach Tom Brands said. “There’s a lot of Minnesota fans that paid good ticket prices to watch the Hawkeyes. They geared up for it, and our guys get up for it.
“We get ready for every dual mat, and good things happen when you get ready. When we get ready, we like our chances.”
The Hawkeyes, ranked third nationally by Trackwrestling, took seven of 10 bouts to improve to 7-0 overall and 2-0 in Big Ten competition. Alex Marinelli (165) and Pat Lugo (149) contributed bonus points — Marinelli pinned Carson Brolsma in the third period; Lugo major’d Tommy Thorn, 14-0, at 149 — to help Iowa beat No. 5 Minnesota (8-2, 1-1) for the fifth-straight time.
“During the week, Tom told me we needed bonus points, and that’s all I needed to know,” Marinelli said afterward. “He tried to get to the edge, and he kind of went to the edge in the first period, so I had to get him in the middle of the mat.
“Terry said when stick to my basics first, that stuff will come. That’s the gospel right there. That’s true.”
On the whole, Iowa held decisive advantages in total match points, 72-37, and total takedowns, 17-8. In six matches, Hawkeye wrestlers held their Gopher counterparts to two points or less. Even more, Iowa wrestlers collectively outscored Minnesota in third-period match points, 33-14.
The biggest set of fireworks came in the dual’s first match. At 157 pounds, Kaleb Young and Steve Bleise were tied 1-1 in the third period when Bleise corralled Young in a body lock. Young countered with an off-balance headlock, scoring six total points to win the match, 7-1.
“That wasn’t exactly where I wanted to be — well, not at all where I wanted to get,” Young said in an interview on Big Ten Network afterward. “But throughout the match, I had worn on him — not as much as I needed to, obviously, if he was able to get into such good position.
“But I planted my feet and let it fly, and I put him on his back.”
The most intense matchup came at 133 pounds, where Iowa’s 10th-ranked Austin DeSanto defeated Minnesota’s 7th-ranked Ethan Lizak, 6-1.
Lizak is a two-time All-American and past NCAA finalist who is one of the country’s best from the top position. DeSanto scored two first-period takedowns, weathered a rideout in the second, then reversed Lizak in the third. DeSanto egged on the crowd and shared words with Lizak after the match, which prompted the official to deduct Iowa a team point.
The Hawkeyes rolled otherwise. Cash Wilcke (184) and Jacob Warner (197) provided back-to-back decision victories to put Iowa up 15-3 midway through the dual. Prior to DeSanto’s match, Spencer Lee defeated Sean Russell, a past All-American, by a 4-0 decision at 125 pounds.
“I was really focusing on my training, believing in my coaches,” Lee said in a Big Ten Network interview after his match. “I need to believe in myself more and the way I can wrestle, and I feel like I haven’t shown that yet.
“Toughness is everything. That’s why I love this sport. People don’t know what you’re going through, and everybody has something that they’re fighting through. This sport, it just makes you grow up and makes you as tough as you have to be to be good in this sport.”
Minnesota fielded a lineup with seven ranked wrestlers, and three of them provided the Gophers with some excitement. At 174 pounds, Devin Skatzka held on to beat Mitch Bowman, 11-9; at 285, top-ranked Gable Steveson defeated Connor Corbin, 12-3; and at 141, Mitch McKee scored takedowns in the first and third periods to beat Max Murin, 5-3.
“Very disappointed,” Steveson told Big Ten Network after his match when asked about Iowa heavyweight Sam Stoll, currently ranked No. 2 by Track, who wasn’t scheduled to wrestle this weekend.
“He should’ve came. He should’ve wrestled,” Steveson continued. “But it’s Iowa’s decision.”
Even then, Brands was pleased overall with his wrestlers’ performance. Corbin’s gas tank held up against the wildly-talented Steveson. Bowman trailed 7-1 in the second before roaring back with three third-period takedowns. Murin took good shots, despite not finishing any against McKee.
“We’re going in the right direction,” Brands said. “It all sounds real good right now and positive, how I’m talking — and not because we got the win, but because we performed well.
“Where we’re headed with this is to learn, to get better, to keep going.”
Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.
No. 3 Iowa 24, No. 5 Minnesota 10
157: No. 4 Kaleb Young (IA) dec. No. 16 Steve Bleise (MN), 7-1
165: No. 3 Alex Marinelli (IA) over Carson Brolsma (MN) by fall, 5:55
174: No. 12 Devin Skatzka (MN) dec. Mitch Bowman (IA), 11-9
184: No. 17 Cash Wilcke (IA) dec. Brandon Krone (MN), 9-2
197: No. 6 Jacob Warner (IA) dec. Dylan Anderson (MN), 9-4
285: No. 1 Gable Steveson (MN) maj. dec. Connor Corbin (IA), 12-3
125: No. 2 Spencer Lee (IA) dec. No. 5 Sean Russell (MN), 4-0
133: No. 10 Austin DeSanto (IA) dec. No. 7 Ethan Lizak (MN), 6-1*
141: No. 5 Mitch McKee (MN) dec. No. 13 Max Murin (IA), 5-3
149: No. 11 Pat Lugo (IA) maj. dec. No. 22 Tommy Thorn (MN), 14-0
Rankings from Trackwrestling.
*Iowa deducted one team point for unsportsmanlike conduct following 133-pound match.