Iowa wrestling secures decisive 23-9 win over Oklahoma State at the Bout at the Ballpark

Cody Goodwin
Hawk Central

ARLINGTON, Texas — The two primary wrestling mats at Globe Life Field were set up between the pitcher’s mound and second base, so it seems fitting to use baseball parlance to describe Saturday night’s experience.

The Bout at the Ballpark — which featured some of the United States' best Senior-level wrestlers as well as the two most accomplished college wrestling programs in Iowa and Oklahoma State — was not exactly the home run they hoped it would be.

“I wish a lot of things could’ve gone differently,” Oklahoma State coach John Smith said afterward. “But I think it was a great effort by a lot of people. It’s too bad we didn’t get to see all the best wrestlers, but that’s just what it is sometimes.”

Give the folks at REV Entertainment credit, because they swung for the fences here. The original idea involved a college dual between Iowa and Oklahoma State, as well as a men’s freestyle dual between the United States and their Iranian counterparts.

Oklahoma State's Dakota Geer (orange) and Iowa's Abe Assad (black) battle during Saturday night's Bout at the Ballpark wrestling dual at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.

Unfortunately, Iran scratched nine days before the show. Ali Reza Dabir, president of the Iran Wrestling Federation, told USA Wrestling that six of his 35-person delegation did not receive visas from the U.S. State Department, so none of them came.

That forced USA Wrestling to the bullpen, and they came back with a 16-match card featuring U.S. wrestlers against an assortment of international competitors, most of them based in America. The U.S. wrestlers barreled them up, winning 15 of 16. The U.S. men’s freestyle team went 10-0 and outscored their opponents 105-0.

“I would’ve preferred that we would’ve wrestled Iran today,” said Jordan Burroughs, the ace of the U.S. men’s freestyle squad for the last decade. “It would’ve been an even more electric crowd. But regardless, I think it was a fun day.”

The college dual drove most of the interest. The announced crowd on Saturday night was 12,028. REV Entertainment hoped for closer to 20,000. Grapple on the Gridiron, featuring the same Iowa and Oklahoma State programs in 2015, drew 42,287 at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City back in 2015. Globe Life Field seats 40,300.

“This was unique,” added Thomas Gilman, a former Hawkeye wrestler and 2021 world champion who beat Darian Cruz, 11-0, on Saturday in the men’s freestyle dual. “The Grapple on the Gridiron was pretty neat just because we had 40,000 people. That’s pretty cool. I don’t think there’s anyplace you could do that except Iowa City.”

Most of the fans sat in the stands, many of them a few hundred feet away from the action. Sight lines weren’t exactly the best, even with the mats on a stage. Many relied on Globe Life Field’s jumbotron high above right field to follow the action.

REV Entertainment made a whole production out of it, shooting off fireworks as both No. 2 Iowa and No. 5 Oklahoma State took the mats, then again after the Hawkeyes won, 23-9. Iowa is 13-1 this season and has won six of the last eight meetings against the Cowboys, who fell to 11-4.

Oklahoma State turned the first two matches into wins by a combined three points. At 125 pounds, Jesse Ybarra held a 4-2 lead over 7th-ranked Trevor Mastrogiovanni, then Mastrogiovanni scored two takedowns in the final minute to win, 6-5. At 133, second-ranked Daton Fix scored two more in a 5-3 win over third-ranked Austin DeSanto.

The Hawkeyes settled in and won the next five in a row and seven of the final eight matches to pull away. They kept the line moving thanks to a flurry of singles and doubles and kept the Cowboy offense quiet. Between 141 and 174, Iowa wrestlers outscored their Cowboy counterparts 24-7 and scored seven takedowns while allowing none.

“We won some tough matches with some tough wrestling,” Iowa wrestling coach Tom Brands said. “These guys have always been dependable.”

Jaydin Eierman recorded a 6-1 win over Carter Young at 141. Max Murin followed with a 5-2 win over 13th-ranked Kaden Gfeller, where he scored a first-period takedown and a point for riding time thanks to a second-period rideout.

Kaleb Young gave Iowa a 9-6 halftime lead with a 4-1 win over Wyatt Sheets, an All-American last season, at 157. Young scored a takedown late in the second period and rode Sheets out for a 3-0 lead entering the third, then continued riding through the first minute to secure riding-time. Young is now 3-1 all-time against Sheets.

“That’s important,” Young said of his rideout to end the second period. “That’s the difference between a two-point lead and a one-point lead. Finishing periods on top is big.”

Alex Marinelli (165) and Michael Kemerer (174) both won out of the intermission to give the Hawkeyes a 15-6 lead with three matches left. Following Dakota Geer’s 9-2 win over Abe Assad, Jacob Warner (197) and Tony Cassioppi (285), the Hawkeyes’ closers at the end of the lineup, scored back-to-back major decisions to ice the dual.

The wrestlers spoke glowingly of the experience as a whole, calling it a rare and unique opportunity. Many of them love baseball, too. Kemerer, for example, is a big Pittsburgh Pirates fan and has thrown out the first pitch at an Iowa baseball game. He was amped to check this ballpark off his bucket list.

Iowa's Michael Kemerer, left, wrestles Oklahoma State's Dustin Plott on Saturday night during the Bout at the Ballpark at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.

Brands was proud of the way his guys wrestled, but in typical Brands fashion, his mind Saturday night was already moving forward. The Hawkeyes have one regular-season dual left, next Sunday against No. 13 Nebraska.

They’ll return to Lincoln two weeks later for the Big Ten Championships, and a strong performance there will put them in prime scoring position at the NCAA Championships in Detroit next month — a place where they might need a few dingers to win a second consecutive national title.

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

2022 Bout at the Ballpark results

#2 Iowa 23, #5 Oklahoma State 9

  • 125: #7 Trevor Mastrogiovanni (OSU) dec. Jesse Ybarra (IA), 6-5
  • 133: #2 Daton Fix (OSU) dec. #3 Austin DeSanto (IA), 5-3
  • 141: #2 Jaydin Eierman (IA) dec. #21 Carter Young (OSU), 6-1
  • 149: #10 Max Murin (IA) dec. #13 Kaden Gfeller (OSU), 5-2
  • 157: #12 Kaleb Young (IA) dec. #18 Wyatt Sheets (OSU), 4-1
  • 165: #5 Alex Marinelli (IA) dec. #8 Travis Wittlake (OSU), 3-2
  • 174: #2 Michael Kemerer (IA) dec. #10 Dustin Plott (OSU), 6-1
  • 184: #11 Dakota Geer (OSU) dec. #15 Abe Assad (IA), 9-2
  • 197: #4 Jacob Warner (IA) maj. dec. Gavin Stika (OSU), 11-3
  • 285: #4 Tony Cassioppi (IA) maj. dec. #31 Luke Surber (OSU), 9-1

Team USA Women 14, International All-Stars 5

  • 50 kg: Victoria Anthony (U.S.) df. Madison Parks (Canada), 10-0 3:49
  • 53 kg: Jacarra Winchester (U.S.) df. Dom Parrish (United States), 5-2
  • 57 kg: Helen Maroulis (U.S.) df. Karla Godinez Gonzalez (Canada), 8-0
  • 62 kg: Kayla Miracle (U.S.) df. Ana Godinez Gonzalez (Canada), 6-5
  • 76 kg: Justina DiStasio (Canada) df. Victoria Francis (U.S.), 7-1

Team USA Men 44, International All-Stars 1

  • 97-kg Greco: G’Angelo Hancock (U.S.) df. Ahmed Hassan (Egypt), 13-3
  • 57-kg MFS: Thomas Gilman (U.S.) df. Darian Cruz (Puerto Rico), 11-0 3:13
  • 61-kg MFS: Daton Fix (U.S.) df. Guesseppe Rea (Ecuador), 10-0 1:41
  • 65-kg MFS: Joey McKenna (U.S.) df. Kamol Begakov (Tajikistan), 10-0 1:26
  • 70-kg MFS: James Green (U.S.) df. Dillon Williams (Canada), 10-0 2:21
  • 74-kg MFS: Jason Nolf (U.S.) df. Mitch Finesilver (Israel), 11-0 1:55
  • 79-kg MFS: Jordan Burroughs (U.S.) df. Nestor Taffur (Columbia), 11-0 1:58
  • 86 kg MFS: Zahid Valencia (U.S.) df. Noel Torres (Mexico), 10-0 0:57
  • 92-kg MFS: Kollin Moore (U.S.) df. Evan Ramos (Puerto Rico), 10-0 0:50
  • 97-kg MFS: Kyle Snyder (U.S.) df. Zbigniew Baranowski (Poland), 12-0 4:19
  • 125-kg MFS: Nick Gwiazdowski (U.S.) df. Zach Merrill (Puerto Rico), 10-0 1:20