Five takeaways from Iowa wrestling's thrilling win over N.C. State at Journeymen Collegiate Duals
NICEVILLE, Fla. — The Iowa wrestling team will leave the Sunshine State with three victories in two days, but after barreling through both Central Michigan and Lehigh on Monday, the Hawkeyes had their championship mettle tested on Tuesday evening.
Iowa won a thrilling, contentious, spectacular matchup against No. 6 North Carolina State, 19-15, to cap its run at the Journeymen Collegiate Wrestling Duals here at Raider Arena. The top-ranked Hawkeyes head back home with a 6-0 dual record.
This dual had it all — a hot start from Iowa; a ferocious rally from the Wolfpack (5-1); and two controlled victories by the Hawkeyes’ heaviest weights to continue what’s now a 24-dual winning streak.
This dual felt a lot like Iowa’s 19-17 victory over Penn State in January 2020, when the Nittany Lions surged ahead early and the Hawkeyes fought back to win it in the final two matches.
The Hawkeyes handily beat both Central Michigan (44-0) and Lehigh (28-7) on Monday to advance to Tuesday’s crossover matchup. They won 18-of-20 contested matches and scored 56 total takedowns between both duals while allowing just four.
N.C. State, led by coach Pat Popolizio, boasts 10 ranked wrestlers, including four in the top five at their respective weights and another four in the top-20. The dual’s stats reflected that challenge: Iowa managed a 15-8 takedown advantage, thanks largely to Austin DeSanto scoring six on his own, but a narrower edge in total match points, 50-40.
Here are five takeaways from the Hawkeyes’ performance on Tuesday:
Jacob Warner wins another big match
Jacob Warner, a two-time All-American at 197 pounds, has a clutch gene.
With Iowa’s back against the wall on Tuesday — they trailed 15-13 after N.C. State won four of five matches in the middle of the dual, a run highlighted by Ed Scott’s first-period pin over Kaleb Young at 157 (more on that in a minute) — Warner came through with a big 3-2 win over 15th-ranked Isaac Trumble to give Iowa the lead back.
Warner scored a takedown in the third period to win it. Trumble took a shot from space near the edge, and Warner easily countered by circling behind for the match-deciding two points. That put Iowa up 16-15, allowing Tony Cassioppi to finish the comeback with a 6-2 win over Tyrie Houghton at heavyweight.
But this isn’t the first time Warner’s needed a big win to help the Hawkeyes win a big dual.
Recall that Penn State dual from January 2020. Iowa trailed Penn State, 17-13, with two matches left, and all Warner does is score an early takedown and beats Shakur Rasheed, 4-2, to give his team a chance. (Cassioppi also closed that dual with a win at heavyweight, 7-0 over Seth Nevills, an All-American, and the Hawkeyes won, 19-17).
Recall, also, the Iowa State dual from December 2018. It was another where the Cyclones won a few swing matches and scored six points from Myles Wilson’s injury default at 174. All Warner does there is score late for a 5-4 win over Willie Miklus, a four-time All-American, which allowed Iowa to rally and win, 19-18.
We could also point to last year’s NCAA Championships, where Warner rallied from a 6-0 deficit against N.C. State’s Nick Reenan to win 9-7 in overtime, a rally that began after Reenan threw Warner in a headlock and nearly pinned him in the first period. Warner went on to take fourth that week for his second All-American finish.
Cassioppi’s results in these comebacks should be noted, too. He needed to beat Nevills for Iowa to win the Penn State dual, and he needed to win on Tuesday for the Hawkeyes to prevail again. He overcame a big first-period scramble to score first against Nevills, and navigated another before scoring the first of two takedowns against Houghton.
Warner and Cassioppi are both guys Iowa has consistently counted on for big wins when needed. Their victories on Tuesday were just the latest example.
Jaydin Eierman, the comeback kid
Jaydin Eierman was one of six Hawkeye wrestlers to go 3-0 this week — the others: Warner, Cassioppi, Spencer Lee, DeSanto, Alex Marinelli — but two of his wins involved some pretty wicked comebacks.
On Monday, Eierman rallied from down 11-2 to beat Central Michigan’s Dresden Simon, 13-12. Eierman did most of that work quickly, rallying on an escape, a takedown and a tilt on the edge to come within 11-9 before the first period ended.
On Tuesday, Eierman trailed N.C. State’s Ryan Jack, 5-2, and stormed back for a 7-6 victory. This time, Eierman scored two takedowns in the third period and rode Jack out in the final 30 seconds of the third period to win.
(A quick fun fact: Eierman and Kevin Jack, Ryan’s older brothers, were both All-Americans at 141 pounds in 2017 and 2018, but never wrestled each other. Instead, Eierman, now 25, wrestled Kevin’s younger brother.)
Not only did Eierman need to rally, he also staved off a potential defensive pin by Ryan Jack in the third period. Jack scrambled his way to putting Eierman on his back and reached back to put Eierman on his back. The ref didn’t call the pin, so Eierman won.
Kaleb Young’s slow start continues
Kaleb Young’s résumé includes two All-American finishes, an appearance in the Big Ten finals, as well as a title at the Midlands Championships in 2019, but he hasn’t looked like a wrestler of that caliber this season.
Young’s record dropped to 6-4 after a 1-2 showing here. He opened with a 6-0 win over Central Michigan’s Johnny Lovett in his first match on Monday, then dropped his last two matches — to Lehigh’s Josh Humphreys by an 11-2 major decision, then to N.C. State’s Ed Scott by fall in the first period.
(Another fact: those two losses where the first two bonus-point losses Young has suffered since dropping to 157. The last time he gave up bonus points was during the 2017-18 season, when Illinois' Isaiah Martinez beat him by technical fall, 23-8, at 165.).
The loss to Scott — Young nearly rolled through Scott’s first headlock attempt, but Scott came again and secured the pin near the edge in 1:10 — flipped the dual entirely, giving the Wolfpack a chance to pull the upset. Iowa’s lead went from 10-3 to 10-9 in just 70 seconds.
But even more, Young’s now dropped four of his last six matches, which have all been against ranked opponents. He lost to Princeton’s Quincy Monday (9-5) and Iowa State’s David Carr (6-2) before dropping two of three matches here this week.
Those guys are all very good. Here are their current InterMat rankings: Carr, No. 1; Monday, No. 5; Humphreys, No. 10; Scott, No. 23. Sandwiched between those losses are Young’s 3-1 win over Army’s Markus Hartman, who’s ranked No. 29, and his win over Lovett, who’s ranked No. 19.
This isn’t the first time Young has faced a tough stretch. During the ’18-19 season, he lost three of five matches after an 11-0 start, but took fifth at the NCAA Championships that year. He also dropped the last three matches of his 2019-20 season, but rallied to go 9-3 and take seventh at last season’s national tournament.
This has been a tough stretch for the sixth-year senior, and it doesn't get much easier, either, with the Midlands Championships up next, plus duals against No. 10 Minnesota and Purdue in early January (which means matchups against No. 4 Brayton Lee and No. 11 Kendall Coleman, respectively).
We’ll see if Young can navigate this slump and rebound to score points when it matters most.
Iowa continues to win close matches
Bonus points are necessary to win team titles in March, but winning the close matches is arguably just as important, and the Hawkeyes have shown a knack for that through their first six duals this season.
In their three duals these last two days, Iowa went 5-2 in matches decided by two points or fewer. That includes Warner’s big win over Trumble and both of Eierman’s rallies, but also they also won two such matches against Lehigh: Cassioppi and Nelson Brands both registered 3-2 wins over Jordan Wood and Jake Logan, respectively.
On the whole, Iowa is now 9-3 in matches decided by two points or fewer this season, which is just as important as their 20 bonus-point wins in 45 individual victories across their first six duals this season.
That mental toughness will be crucial come March. Showing it now is a good sign.
UNI beat Hofstra for first dual win
After a rough Monday, the Northern Iowa wrestling team bounced back with a nice win over Hofstra on Tuesday, taking eight of 10 bouts to win 33-9, their first dual victory of the season after dropping their first four.
After forfeiting at 125 pounds — Brody Teske went 1-1 on Monday, but did not wrestle Tuesday — the Panthers won seven in a row to seize control. Kyle Biscoglia (133), Colin Realbuto (149) and Cayd Lara (157) all recorded pins. Cael Happel, on his 20th birthday, scored four takedowns in a 10-4 win over Hofstra’s Justin Hoyle.
Tyrell Gordon provided the biggest highlight, rallying for a 4-2 win over Zachary Knighton-Ward, who’s ranked No. 20 nationally at 285 pounds by InterMat. Gordon scored on two escapes, a technical violation against Knighton-Ward, and a mean third-period rideout for riding-time — punctuated by a series of impressive mat returns.
Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.
Journeymen Collegiate Wrestling Duals
#1 Iowa 19, #6 NC State 15
- 125: #1 Spencer Lee (IA) dec. #6 Jakob Camacho (NCST), 6-1
- 133: #3 Austin DeSanto (IA) maj. dec. #17 Kai Orine (NCST), 16-7
- 141: #2 Jaydin Eierman (IA) dec. #16 Ryan Jack (NCST), 7-6
- 149: #3 Tariq Wilson (NCST) dec. Cobe Siebrecht (IA), 7-3
- 157: #23 Ed Scott (NCST) pinned #8 Kaleb Young (IA) in 1:10
- 165: #1 Alex Marinelli (IA) dec. Donald Cates (NCST), 7-2
- 174: #5 Hayden Hidlay (NCST) dec. Nelson Brands (IA), 4-2
- 184: #3 Trent Hidlay (NCST) dec. Abe Assad (IA), 6-0
- 197: #7 Jacob Warner (IA) dec. #15 Isaac Trumble (NCST), 3-2
- 285: #6 Tony Cassioppi (IA) dec. Tyrie Houghton (NCST), 6-2
#22 Northern Iowa 33, Hofstra 9
- 125: Jacob Moon (HOF) by forfeit
- 133: #31 Kyle Biscoglia (UNI) pinned Dylan Acevedo (HOF), 2:00
- 141: #26 Cael Happel (UNI) dec. Justin Hoyle (HOF), 10-4
- 149: Colin Realbuto (UNI) pinned Michael Leandrou (HOF) in 4:56
- 157: Cayd Lara (UNI) pinned Joe Mcginty (HOF) in 3:35
- 165: #23 Austin Yant (UNI) dec. Ricky Stamm (HOF), 6-0
- 174: Pat Schoenfelder (UNI) dec. Ross McFarland (HOF), 6-2
- 184: #4 Parker Keckeisen (UNI) dec. #25 Charles Small (HOF), 10-3
- 197: #26 Trey Rogers (HOF) dec. Noah Glaser (UNI), 5-3
- 285: Tyrell Gordon (UNI) dec. #20 Zachary Knighton-Ward (HOF), 4-2