Wrestling: Top-ranked Hawkeyes continue tough homestretch with 24-10 win over Ohio State
IOWA CITY, Ia. — Tom Brands settled into his post-dual press conference underneath Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday night. Thoughts raced through the Iowa wrestling coach’s head minutes after his top-ranked Hawkeyes beat No. 3 Ohio State, 24-10.
On this night, Iowa took seven of 10 against a strong Buckeye squad to improve to 8-0 overall and 5-0 in the Big Ten. The Hawkeyes were more explosive than they were a week ago, scoring 24 total takedowns and putting up 91 match points.
But some moments left the 14-year coach wanting a little more.
“We’ve got to be better,” Brands said. “We all have to be better.”
The second-ranked Penn State wrestling team is up next, perhaps a reason why Brands sought more even after another dominant win. Improvements were made from last week’s tough win over Nebraska, but others revealed things they could still refine.
The good: A pair of bonus-point victories from the star lightweights. Out of the break, Spencer Lee and Austin DeSanto scored back-to-back technical falls — Lee won 18-0 over Hunter Lucas at 125; DeSanto won 27-12 win over 15th-ranked Jordan Decatur at 133 — to give the Hawkeyes a 21-3 lead with three matches to go.
That’s 45 match points between them, or roughly half of Iowa’s total match-point output. This was business as usual for Lee, who’s won his last five matches by technical fall and has outscored his opponents 84-1 along the way. DeSanto’s performance was an explosive rebound after last week’s 7-4 decision over Nebraska freshman Ridge Lovett.
“This week, figured out that I need to move my feet off the whistle,” said DeSanto, who gave up a takedown in the first 10 seconds before scoring 12 of his own and securing a technical fall in less than six minutes.
“It’s a test every week. Last week, I learned that I have to get leaner and meaner. I can’t let guys do that on top. Have to get out on bottom.”
Added Brands: “He’s awesome. I said, ‘That’s how it’s done.’ You want a definition of how to wrestle a dominant wrestling match? That is how it’s done.”
Others took steps forward after last week’s dual.
Michael Kemerer scored two takedowns and tried for a third in a 7-1 win over Kaleb Romero at 174. Abe Assad defeated Rocky Jordan, 3-1, at 184, on a third-period takedown. Kaleb Young controlled Elijah Cleary in a 4-1 win at 157. Tony Cassioppi beat Twitter sensation Gary Traub, 9-3, after taking him feet to back in the third period.
“I had an underhook, and he tried to pinch double-overs,” Cassioppi said. “My first thought was to get out of that because he was down and probably looking for something big, but then I stepped in, locked it up and put him down.
“If it was Greco, I might’ve gone over my shoulder a little bit more.”
Neither Max Murin or Jacob Warner took the mat in what became Ohio State wins at 141 and 197, respectively. Carter Happel got the nod at 141 and lost to top-ranked Luke Pletcher, 14-5. At 197, Cash Wilcke took on top-ranked Kollin Moore and gave up three takedowns in an 8-3 loss.
“Warner, best thing for him,” Brands said. “He didn’t like it. He didn’t know it until I guess (Cash) Wilcke walked out there. But the conversation afterward was all good. He’s a pro. He’s awesome. We’re moving forward with him. He’s fine.
“Murin, nicked up a little bit … he might be questionable for Penn State.”
The moments that left Brands wanting more are fixable. They are not alarming developments as much as small lessons to focus on moving forward — not unlike what was learned against Nebraska.
Alex Marinelli opened the night with a 14-10 win over Ethan Smith at 165. Marinelli scored three first-period takedowns, but gave up one and led only 6-5. He scored three more over the second and third periods, but gave up another late in the match to lose a shot at bonus points.
At 149, Pat Lugo lost for the first time this season, 2-1 in overtime to Sammy Sasso, the Buckeyes' tough redshirt freshman. Lugo had at least five solid scoring opportunities throughout the bout, but Sasso wiggled free each time, including once thanks to a challenge late in the third period and another in sudden victory on some crafty defense. Sasso ultimately escaped and rode Lugo out in the tiebreakers to win.
“Lugo, you have to get off the bottom,” Brands said. “Some things were frustrating. The referee, in Lugo’s match, but that’s not the referee. That’s on Lugo, and he knows that.
“That guy was very elusive.”
Brands even looked inward. After Cassioppi’s win, which put Iowa up 12-3 at the midway point, Brands walked onto the mat to shake his heavyweight’s hand. The officials deducted a team point from the Hawkeyes, citing “control of the mat,” so they led 11-3 at the break.
“I guess that’s a team point,” Brands said, “so I need to be better.”
Later, Brands added: “Why do I feel like it was even? I have to learn to enjoy it — 7-3 against the No. 3 team in the country. I’m not changing. I’m not saying that, but c'mon, I want to take on the whole doggone world right now.
“But our guys did a good job.”
It is better that these lessons are being learned now than in March. But each dual is an opportunity for these Hawkeyes to assert their dominance. So far, they’ve passed the two toughest tests so far.
An even tougher test will come to town next week.
Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.
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No. 1 Iowa 24, No. 3 Ohio State 10
- 165: No. 2 Alex Marinelli (IA) dec. No. 8 Ethan Smith (OSU), 14-10
- 174: No. 2 Michael Kemerer (IA) dec. No. 12 Kaleb Romero (OSU), 7-1
- 184: No. 6 Abe Assad (IA) dec. No. 22 Rocky Jordan (OSU), 3-1
- 197: No. 1 Kollin Moore (OSU) dec. Cash Wilcke (IA), 8-3
- 285: No. 3 Tony Cassioppi (IA) dec. No. 24 Gary Traub (OSU), 9-3
- 125: No. 1 Spencer Lee (IA) tech. fall Hunter Lucas (OSU), 18-0
- 133: No. 2 Austin DeSanto (IA) tech. fall No. 15 Jordan Decatur (OSU), 27-12
- 141: No. 1 Luke Pletcher (OSU) maj. dec. Carter Happel (IA), 14-5
- 149: No. 6 Sammy Sasso (OSU) dec. No. 1 Pat Lugo (IA), 2-1 (TB1)
- 157: No. 4 Kaleb Young (IA) dec. No. 32 Elijah Cleary, 4-1
Rankings from Trackwrestling.