Iowa Hawkeye wrestling team thumps Purdue, 36-4, before another sell-out home crowd

Cody Goodwin
Hawk Central

IOWA CITY — The Iowa wrestling team is on pace to sell out all six home duals this season. Another announced crowd of 14,905 filled Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday afternoon and watched the Hawkeyes bludgeon Purdue, 36-4.

Iowa, now 8-0 this season and 2-0 against Big Ten competition, followed up Friday's slow, uninspired win — which left head coach Tom Brands agitated — with a much better performance on Sunday. The Hawkeyes left no doubt against the 24th-ranked Boilermakers, who were riding high after upsetting No. 6 Nebraska on Friday.

“Quick turnaround, and there were good things,” Brands said Sunday. “You make adjustments, and when you make adjustments and you see positive results from those adjustments — and it’s no credit to us, it’s a credit to our guys — you’re definitely headed in the right direction.”

The Hawkeyes won nine of 10 matches and scored bonus points in five of them. As a team, they scored 27 total takedowns to Purdue’s 4, and put up 86 total match points and allowed just 35. It was dominance personified — and also the 33rd-straight win over Purdue, now 7-2 overall and 1-1 against the Big Ten.

Much of Iowa’s offensive output came from the usual suspects. Alex Marinelli and Michael Kemerer began the dual's second half with back-to-back technical falls, and Tony Cassioppi closed the dual with a first-period fall over Michael Woulfe, his second this season and the 14th of his career.

Marinelli rolled up nine takedowns in a 22-7 win over Hayden Lohrey, securing the technical fall thanks to more than three minutes of riding-time. Kemerer, who made his season debut on Friday, followed with a casual-yet-commanding 17-1 win over 21st-ranked Gerrit Nijenhuis.

“I ate my Wheaties,” Marinelli said when asked what he did differently after winning 6-5 on Friday.

He continued: “(Iowa associate head coach Terry Brands') message to the team today was, if you didn’t get what you wanted on Friday, improve on it. If you did, improve on it.

“I think all of us had room to improve and we wanted to be better today. I think you guys felt that.”

The Marinelli and Kemerer wins put Iowa up 24-4 with three matches left. As dominant as the stats suggest, Iowa actually trailed this dual 4-3. Austin DeSanto did not wrestle on Sunday, a decision Brands said was entirely DeSanto’s. Jesse Ybarra, normally a 125-pounder, went in his place at 133, and dropped an 11-1 major decision to Matt Ramos.

The match of the afternoon, though, belonged to Drake Ayala, the true freshman from Fort Dodge who has been tasked with starting for Iowa at 125 pounds now that Spencer Lee will miss the remainder of the 2021-22 season.

Ayala’s Carver debut was spoiled Friday night by Minnesota All-American Pat McKee. He would not be denied a second time, storming to a 6-1 win over Purdue’s Devin Schroder, who’s ranked fifth in the country at 125 pounds by Intermat. Ayala scored takedowns in the second and third periods, and added another point for riding-time.

When the clock hit all zeroes, Ayala nodded to the Iowa bench, pointed at coachand cracked a smile. All fans clad in black-and-gold stood up and showered him with the kind of roar that this building is known for this time of the year.

“It was fun,” said Ayala, who is now 11-3 overall this season. “I thought I wrestled a little timid. There’s always room for improvement, but it was fun. Growing up as an Iowa boy, it’s surreal.”

Iowa's Drake Ayala, left, wrestles Purdue's Devin Schroder at 125 pounds during a NCAA Big Ten Conference wrestling dual, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.

Ayala’s win sparked this Iowa team in the same way Lee’s victories often do. Jaydin Eierman put Iowa back in the lead by muscling his way to a 7-6 win over Parker Filius at 141 pounds. Max Murin and Kaleb Young each followed with major decision victories at 149 and 157, respectively, giving Iowa a 14-4 lead at the break.

This looked much closer to the best version of this Iowa lineup. At the very least, it looked far closer than Friday night’s showing. Room for improvement is still available, but Sunday’s performance was a step in the right direction.

Road tests against No. 12 Northwestern and No. 19 Illinois await next Friday and Sunday. After that, the Hawkeyes will hit the road once more to wrestle No. 10 Ohio State, and then return home on Jan. 28 to host top-ranked Penn State.

That’s the monster test that awaits this Iowa team, and another sold-out crowd will pack Carver-Hawkeye Arena to find out if these Hawkeyes are capable of another championship run come March.

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

#2 Iowa 36, #24 Purdue 4

  • 125: Drake Ayala (IA) dec. #5 Devin Schroder (PUR), 6-1
  • 133: Matt Ramos (PUR) maj. dec. Jesse Ybarra (IA), 11-1
  • 141: #2 Jaydin Eierman (IA) dec. #25 Parker Filius (PUR), 7-6
  • 149: #12 Max Murin (IA) maj. dec. Trey Kruse (PUR), 10-2
  • 157: #12 Kaleb Young (IA) maj. dec. Cooper Noehre (PUR), 12-4
  • 165: #1 Alex Marinelli (IA) tech. fall Hayden Lohrey (PUR), 22-7
  • 174: #2 Michael Kemerer tech. fall #21 Gerrit Nijenhuis (PUR), 17-1
  • 184: #18 Abe Assad (IA) dec. #23 Max Lyon (PUR), 6-3
  • 197: #5 Jacob Warner (IA) dec. #15 Thomas Penola (PUR), 3-0
  • 285: #6 Tony Cassioppi (IA) pinned Michael Woulfe (PUR) in 1:14