Iowa's Alex Marinelli discusses the excitement surrounding the 2019-20 Hawkeyes. Cody Goodwin, firstname.lastname@example.org
IOWA CITY, Ia. — The Iowa wrestling team’s preseason matches wrapped up on Friday afternoon inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena, and while it’s important to note that these weren’t exactly wrestle-offs, there was one bout that had a wrestle-off feel to it.
In Friday's second match, 149-pounder Pat Lugo defeated Vince Turk, 2-1, in overtime. After trading escapes in regulation and going scoreless in the first sudden-victory period, Lugo escaped and then rode Turk out to win.
The match itself was a brawl, full of heavy hands, stout defense and both guys clawing for position. Lugo took ground for much of the match, but Turk got in on a few shots that Lugo ultimately defended.
But the prevailing notion was that, like the score, not much separates these two as competitors.
Part of that can be that they are teammates, of course. They likely practice together from time to time and know each other’s tendencies. That almost always leads to low-scoring matches.
But the result showed that Lugo’s spot in the lineup isn’t secure. That’s a weird thing to say about a returning All-American, but Turk is no slouch. Remember, he won three matches at the 2018 NCAA Championships while down at 141.
Not much separated him and Max Murin, the eventual 141-pound starter, last season, but he bumped up this year to challenge Lugo. On Friday, he showed there’s not much of a gap between there, either.
Perhaps Lugo will use this as fuel, grab the spot by the throat and jump levels this year. Or perhaps Turk will push hard enough to earn an opportunity to show what he’s got.
The beautiful thing about wrestling is that they’ll prove it on the mat. They always do.
Cash Wilcke tops true freshman Abe Assad
A lot of Iowa’s recruiting victories over the last couple of years can likely be traced back to when Abe Assad first committed, in August 2018. He was the highlight of Iowa’s small 2019 recruiting class, and brings a wealth of talent and potential to the program.
Consider: he won two Illinois state titles, a bronze medal at the Cadet freestyle world championships, took third at the UWW Junior freestyle national championships (where he competed against college guys) and, this past summer, dominated his way to a Junior freestyle national title.
Expectations are only going to grow, too. On Friday, he wrestled Iowa senior Cash Wilcke in the fifth match of the afternoon. Wilcke won, 3-2, in overtime. He scored a reversal in the second period and Assad added two escapes. Wilcke then rode out to win in the first tiebreaker.
Wilcke, of course, has plenty of credentials and experience, too. He's a two-time round-of-12 participant at the NCAA Championships and has 63 career victories to his name as an Iowa wrestler. That helped Wilcke here.
But Assad flashed some mental toughness, the ability to fight back against Wilcke as well as a strong gas tank. He’s only going to get better during his redshirt season, too.
Austin DeSanto continues to entertain
The first match out on Friday produced the most points by any one wrestler during the afternoon, and of course, the scoring out burst came from Austin DeSanto.
DeSanto, a returning All-American, beat Aaron Meyer, 20-7. The junior rolled up six takedowns, as well as a slick reversal in the third period. He forced Meyer into two stall calls, gifted him each of his seven escapes and even scored while on top in the first period.
Whether he wrestles at 133 or 141 for the Hawkeyes this season remains to be seen — though he did look a little stronger — but no matter which weight he goes, DeSanto is going to bring his intense and aggressive style with him.
Other takeaways from Iowa’s preseason matches
Kaleb Young over Zach Axmear, 15-5: Workmanlike performance from Young, another returning All-American. Scored five takedowns overall and a methodical reversal in the second period.
Alex Marinelli over Joe Kelly, 16-5: Marinelli led 5-1 and had riding time secured after the second period. The two-time All-American spent much of the first two periods trying to pin Kelly, then rolled up four takedowns in the third. Give Kelly credit, he fought his way out of a few tight holds.
Jacob Warner over Sam Cook, 15-4: Warner, another returning All-American, produced five takedowns and flashed some variety on his shots and finishes.
Steven Holloway over Cade Brownlee, 6-3: Holloway scored two takedowns in the first period. Brownlee hit a reversal in the third.
Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.
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