Iowa wrestling 26, Penn 11: Three takeaways from a gutsy Hawkeye victory at Carver-Hawkeye Arena

Cody Goodwin
Des Moines Register

IOWA CITY — Things were a little too close for comfort for the second-ranked Iowa wrestlers on Saturday afternoon.

After the Hawkeyes took the first five matches for a 17-0 halftime lead, Penn mounted a second-half rally by taking the next three weights to come within 17-11. Iowa needed, and got, a couple, of big-time performances to hold off the surging Quakers.

First, Max Murin scored a takedown in overtime to beat 10th-ranked Doug Zapf, 6-4, at 149 pounds. That effectively iced the dual for Iowa and nixed Penn's comeback attempt.

Then, at 157, Cobe Siebrecht rolled through a headlock and pinned 12th-ranked Anthony Artalona in the second period for his first big signature victory of the season, sending the announced crowd of 14,853 (that, again, actually looked closer to 8,000-ish) into a frenzy inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

The end result was a 26-11 win for the Hawkeyes, who are now 5-0 this season. Despite winning 7-of-10 matches, Iowa coach Tom Brands categorized his team's performance as "gutsy" against a Penn squad that featured seven ranked wrestlers, including four in the top-20 at their respective weights.

"We have to find a better lineup," Brands said — especially with No. 10 Iowa State (5-0) coming to town next Sunday afternoon.

"No slouches out there from Penn," Brands continued. "It's not a moral win for them, either. I guarantee you that. Not with that staff and not with what I saw. We have to get better."

Here's the full box score from Iowa's 26-11 win:

  • 165: #13 Patrick Kennedy (IA) maj. dec. Lucas Revano (PN), 14-5
  • 174: Nelson Brands (IA) dec. #23 Nick Incontrera (PN), 5-1
  • 184: #8 Abe Assad (IA) dec. Maximus Hale (PN), 5-0
  • 197: #2 Jacob Warner (IA) dec. #27 Cole Urbas (PN), 11-10
  • 285: #4 Tony Cassioppi (IA) maj. dec. #24 Ben Goldin (PN), 9-0
  • 125: #17 Ryan Miller (PN) tech fall Aidan Harris (IA), 20-5
  • 133: #10 Michael Colaiocco (PN) dec. Cullan Schriever (IA), 6-0
  • 141: Carmen Ferrante (PN) dec. Drew Bennett (IA), 4-1
  • 149: #6 Max Murin (IA) dec. #10 Doug Zapf (PN), 6-4 (SV)
  • 157: #29 Cobe Siebrecht (IA) pinned #12 Anthony Artalona (PN) in 4:02

Here are three takeaways from the Hawkeyes' win:

These stats show how close Penn was to Iowa

Penn, now 0-1 this season, was much closer with Iowa than the final 15-point margin might suggest. Consider these numbers:

  • Iowa wrestlers scored 17 total takedowns, as a team. Penn scored 13.
  • Iowa wrestlers scored 63 total match points, as a team. Penn scored 59.
  • Iowa wrestlers did not score any first-period offensive points in six matches, at 174, 184, 125, 133, 141, 157. They went 3-3 in those matches.
  • Iowa wrestlers gave up riding-time points in three matches, at 125, 133, 141, and lost them all, allowing Penn to roar back from down 17-0 to make it 17-11.
  • Additionally, at 197, Jacob Warner led 8-1 after the first period, then gave up two full sets of back points to Cole Urbas in the second and trailed 9-8. He scored a takedown and added a point for stalling in the third and won, 11-10.

Warner's come-from-behind win was one of three from Iowa wrestlers. The others: Murin's 6-4 overtime win (he trailed 4-2 in the second), and Siebrecht, who trailed 9-1 after Artalona connected on a headlock in the second period. That may get lost because Siebrecht rolled him through for the fall.

"Gutsy at the end," Brands said. "Murin was gutsy. I don't know how good he felt out there. Doesn't really matter. Warner, gutsy. Nelson, gutsy."

Had Zapf beaten Murin at 149 — and he was close to scoring a second takedown in the second period — that makes the dual score 17-14 with one match left and likely changes everything. But Murin put on his cape, defended Zapf well enough, then picked up a single-leg shot and scored a takedown, even as Zapf tried a leg-pass, in overtime to win the match — and the dual.

"In sudden victory, you want to get a takedown right away," Murin said. "Most guys get takedowns from a go-behind. So I didn't want to just dive in there. Once I got to the leg, I was patient. We work on that every single day in practice, just fundamental finishes. That's what I did."

More:Five takeaways from Iowa wrestling's wins over Sacred Heart and Buffalo

Iowa's Max Murin celebrates after winning a decision in sudden victory at 149 pounds during a NCAA men's wrestling dual against Penn, Saturday

Cobe Siebrecht's big win shows big-time mettle

Safe to say Cobe Siebrecht is probably Iowa's guy at 157 moving forward.

Siebrecht improved to 4-0 with four bonus-point wins after his stunning pin over Anthony Artalona, who has twice reached the bloodround at the NCAA Championships. Siebrecht trailed 3-1 in the second period and stepped into a headlock and was nearly pinned, but a calculated roll-through helped Siebrecht rally and ultimately record a second-period pin over a guy who had never been pinned in his college career.

"Probably shouldn't have been there," Siebrecht said. "I knew he had a headlock. I knew he's a big-move guy. Likes throws. Pretty strong. Pretty sure I got double-unders and just walked right into his headlock, which was kind of dumb. I was trying not to get pinned.

"But I was waiting for an opportunity to roll him through, just to get off my back, and I caught his wrist and elbow, so I rolled him through to his back and went for the pin … I did what I had to do to get off, put the match away. Got the opportunity."

This is not the first Siebrecht evaded a dangerous situation and ultimately produced big points out of it. He bumped to 165 and wrestled Buffalo's Noah Grover last week. Grover attempted an outside-trip that took Siebrecht to his back, but Siebrecht rolled through that sequence without giving up any points and ultimately scored six points en route to an 8-0 major-decision victory.

It is dangerous playing with fire like that, but Siebrecht clearly has the capability to score big points even in less-than-ideal situations. That's a trait that could make him dangerous in big-time, high-pressure matchups moving forward — and especially in March.

"Match isn't over until the last whistle blows or until the ref slaps the mat," Siebrecht said. "You never know what's going to happen."

More:Iowa wrestling 28, Army West Point 13: Three takeaways from the Hawkeyes' come-from-behind win

Iowa's Cobe Siebrecht, top, scores a fall against Penn's Anthony Artalona at 157 pounds during a NCAA men's wrestling dual, Saturday

Hello, Nelson Brands!

Nelson Brands made his long-awaited season debut on Saturday. In the dual's second match, Brands notched a 5-1 decision over Penn's Nick Incontrera, who's ranked 23rd nationally at 174 pounds by InterMat.

Nelson Brands' addition to the lineup was a nice surprise. He was not listed on the midweek probables and was assigned a "day-to-day" health designation by Iowa coach Tom Brands on Wednesday. Nelson wrestled on Saturday with his left elbow wrapped and scored two takedowns to beat Incontrera, a returning NCAA qualifier.

Nelson Brands said he broke his collarbone in a preseason motorcycle accident. He underwent surgery in early October, which was an additional operation after he had Tommy John surgery on his left elbow last year, and anticipated a late-December return. It would've made sense to see him at the Soldier Salute, set for Dec. 29-30 at Xtream Arena in Coralville.

"At a certain point, you have to make the decision that's best for him, then after that, it's his call," Iowa coach Tom Brands said. "We have a great medical team. When it's the athlete's call and they want to go, they're going."

Rehab went well enough that Nelson Brands got the nod on Saturday — and he did some good things, despite not lighting up the scoreboard. He held position and hand-fought well. His head-and-hands defense was great, so much that he was never really in danger. He was slow getting out from bottom, but got out. He took one true shot, in the second period, and scored. He countered an Incontrera shot in the third for another takedown.

It was a fine debut, all things considered. Nelson Brands said it was his third time going live and his first true match since December.

"It was good to get the nerves out," he continued. "When you don't wrestle for that long, you have those nerves again, those butterflies. Awesome to get that out. Felt great … I was being stingy, wrestling a little too stingy. I need to watch my match. I need to open up more and let it fly. Definitely felt like I could. Definitely felt like I could get to his legs fairly easy. I didn't. I was being kind of a wuss, to take it from Spencer Lee's mouth.

"I'll keep working on that. It's my first match back, so I'll give myself a little bit of leeway, but I definitely need to open up my matches more … I haven't not-wrestled that long in my life, since I started wrestling in fifth grade."

Pitchers normally throw faster after Tommy John surgery, by the way.

"Yes they do," Nelson Brands said and smiled. "I'll be able to hit my lefty high-crotch stronger."

Perhaps Nelson Brands' return to the starting lineup may also be a sign that Iowa is closer to rolling out the full A-Team lineup soon.

Iowa's Nelson Brands, center, has his hand raised after scoring a decision against Penn's Nick Incontrera at 174 pounds during a NCAA men's wrestling dual

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