Jaydin Eierman, Nelson Brands stand out in Iowa wrestling's opener vs. Nebraska

Cody Goodwin
Hawk Central

IOWA CITY, Ia. — Jaydin Eierman’s debut did not come with the loud-and-rowdy crowd that normally inhabits Carver-Hawkeye Arena in the winter months, but it did feature his individual flair, a new wrinkle on an Iowa team already loaded with firepower.

Eierman registered an 8-4 win over Chad Red at 141 pounds, his first victory in Iowa’s all-black singlet and the 90th of his career. It was one of the many highlights in the top-ranked Hawkeyes’ 31-6 season-opening win over No. 6 Nebraska on Friday night.

“It felt amazing to get out there and do what I came here to do,” Eierman said, “and that’s win and dominate.”

Iowa picked up right where it left off a year ago, throttling a Husker team that should contend for a trophy at the NCAA Championships come March. The Hawkeyes won eight of 10 matches with four bonus-point wins. They put up 89 match points and allowed 35. They scored 26 takedowns and allowed just five.

Eierman’s win came after some lightweight fireworks. Spencer Lee (125) and Austin DeSanto (133) spent less than seven minutes combined on the mat. Lee, the defending Hodge Trophy winner, pinned Liam Cronin in one minute, 21 seconds. DeSanto followed with a 21-6 second-period technical fall over Underwood grad Alex Thomsen.

That set the stage for Eierman. Red struck first with a quick double-leg takedown. Eierman leveled the match with a pair of escapes. Red shot in again in the second period, but Eierman wiggled his way to his signature cradle for a takedown and two back points.

That turned a 2-0 hole into a 6-2 lead. Another takedown in the third period iced the match.

“It’s more of a feel thing,” Eierman said of the cradle sequence, something he’s hit countless times before during the Missouri portion of his college career. “If it’s there, I’ll go for it.

“When I locked it up, I shouldn’t have rushed it as much as I did. I got a little too excited. I should’ve ended the match there.”

Iowa head coach Tom Brands gives Jaydin Eierman a high-five after his match 141 pounds during a NCAA Big Ten Conference wrestling dual, Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.

That put the Hawkeyes up 11-0 after just three matches. They did not let up.

Max Murin, now up at 149 pounds, scored two takedowns in a 7-2 win over Brock Hardy. Kaleb Young matched his All-American form in a 17-5 major decision over Caleb Licking at 157. After recess, Alex Marinelli scored three takedowns to win 9-3 over Peyton Robb at 165. Tony Cassioppi closed with a 4-0 win over Christian Lance at 285.

There was one small surprise — true freshman Patrick Kennedy made his Iowa debut at 174 pounds.

Kennedy, wrestling in place of All-American Michael Kemerer, dropped a 7-4 decision to Mikey Labriola, another All-American. Labriola scored three takedowns, one in each period, but the last two came off of Kennedy’s own shots. (Iowa's only other loss was at 197, where Eric Schultz scored a third-period takedown to beat Jacob Warner, 3-2.)

Iowa coach Tom Brands is not a believer in moral victories, but he was impressed with Kennedy’s effort.

“Kennedy — convert, finish,” Brands said. “Gave himself two opportunities. Labriola, we know he’s a scrambler and we know he’s funny and funky, or whatever. That doesn’t matter. We’re good in those shots.

“We were game, but we have to finish. To be really game, you have to finish. That’s a true freshman out there. His effort was good. As a true freshman, you’re not going to give him a moral victory, but doggone it, he showed he could get in there.

On Kemerer, Brands said: “Kemerer was sitting on the bench watching, chomping at the bit. We had many, many discussions about him wanting to go. If it would’ve been his call, he would’ve went. It was my call and the medical team’s call.

“He’ll be in the lineup Friday night in Minnesota.”

Nelson Brands followed with a mighty impressive win at 184.

Nelson Brands, a sophomore, got the nod over Abe Assad on this night and delivered with a dominant 13-5 win over Taylor Venz, who Assad beat in his Carver debut last year. On Friday, Brands rolled up five takedowns, including two in the third period to secure bonus points over an All-American.

“I was just enjoying wrestling,” he said. “I just know that I enjoy wrestling, and I’m looking forward to enjoying wrestling this year.”

Iowa's Nelson Brands, left, wrestles Nebraska's Taylor Venz at 184 pounds during a NCAA Big Ten Conference wrestling dual, Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.

Everybody that came, all 246 — really, that was the official attendance — and the thousands more who watched at home likely enjoyed watching Iowa on this night, a first successful step in what’s being dubbed as a tour with “unfinished business.”

But Tom Brands knows this season will be a quick one. The NCAA Championships are just 62 days away. The Big Ten Championships are even closer.

Up next: a trip to Minneapolis to wrestle the 14th-ranked Gophers next Friday night.

“I think we can get better,” he said. “There were some good performances, but we’re going to see that team again. More than once. We need to keep getting better.”

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

No. 1 Iowa 31, No. 6 Nebraska 6

125: No. 1 Spencer Lee (IA) pins No. 16 Liam Cronin (NEB), 1:21

133: No. 5 Austin DeSanto (IA) tech. fall No. 20 Alex Thomsen (NEB), 21-6

141: No. 1 Jaydin Eierman (IA) dec. No. 7 Chad Red Jr. (NEB), 8-4

149: No. 6 Max Murin (IA) dec. No. 16 Brock Hardy (NEB), 7-2

157: No. 7 Kaleb Young (IA) maj. dec. No. 29 Caleb Licking (NEB), 17-5

165: No. 2 Alex Marinelli (IA) dec. No. 17 Peyton Robb (NEB), 9-3

174: No. 4 Mikey Labriola (NEB) dec. Patrick Kennedy (IA), 

184: No. 8 Nelson Brands (IA) maj. dec. No. 6 Taylor Venz (NEB), 13-5

197: No. 2 Eric Schultz (NEB) dec. No. 3 Jacob Warner (IA), 3-2

285: No. 3 Tony Cassioppi (IA) dec. No. 23 Christian Lance (NEB), 4-1

Extra Matches

  • 133: Tucker Sjomeling (NEB) dec. Cullan Schriever (IA), 6-2
  • 141: Ridge Lovett (NEB) dec. Carter Happel (IA), 4-2
  • 149: Jevon Parrish (NEB) dec. Zach Axmear (IA), 5-3
  • 184: Myles Wilson (IA) maj. dec. Nathan Haas (NEB), 15-6
  • 197: Silas Allred (NEB) maj. dec. Connor Corbin (IA), 11-2
  • 285: Cale Davidson (NEB) dec. Aaron Costello (IA), 3-2