|No. 8 Iowa wins six of 10 bouts to knock off No. 1 Penn State in huge dual in State College|
By Andy Elder Special to TheMat.com
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Penn State’s latest ascension to the No. 1 ranking will last just a week. No. 8 Iowa made sure of that Sunday in front of a sell-out crowd of 6,686 at Rec Hall.
The three-time defending NCAA champions won six of 10 bouts, including upsets in two of the first three to hand Penn State a 22-13 defeat.
“I think they won all of the close ones; that’s the difference,” Penn State coach Cael Sanderson said.
“Although we hate losing, we weren’t at our best. It will be good for us in the long run, but right now it stinks.”
Iowa, which extended its unbeaten streak to 73 matches (it tied Oklahoma State 15-15 on Jan. 16), showed it might just have something to say in the race for Big Ten and national supremacy. But to head coach Tom Brands, the streak is a non-issue.
“Not important. It’s gone, it’s over. We tied Oklahoma State. The streak was important when we were going to maybe history making (proportions). The winning streak means nothing,” he said.
Winning on the road at the home of the No. 1 team? That does mean something for Brands.
“Our guys like this environment. Remember, we wrestle in a great wrestling facility, as well. Enemy arenas and home arenas are the same when you have this kind of energy. We get crowds like this quite a bit. It’s good show. It’s good for both places,” Brands said.
“Very satisfying, it’s always satisfying. You don’t get a chance to come into the No. 1 team in America, come into their home arena and wrestle, especially with the enthusiasm.”
Matt McDonough, Iowa’s defending NCAA 125-pound champion, quieted the crowd with a second-period pin of Nate Morgan, who was making his varsity debut in place of No. 11 Brad Pataky, who was out with a knee injury.
While that win was expected, the Hawkeyes’ wins at 133 and 141 were both surprises in their own way.
No. 10 Tony Ramos used a second-period takedown stand up for a 3-2 win over No. 5 Andrew Long.
“I think at 133, they had a pretty good game plan,” Sanderson said. “They tried to let us wear ourself down. Obviously that’s what they were trying to do and then sneak a takedown in there.”
At 141, Penn State’s freshman phenom Andrew Alton, who has ascended to No. 5, scored an early inside trip on Montell Marion for a five-point move and very nearly a pin. Marion, who saw his first varsity action after being dismissed from the team in the offseason and then re-instated in midseason, rallied for an 11-9 win and 12-0 Iowa lead.
“(The win at) 141 was huge. A five-point move, nice hold and we battled back. That was a big, big match,” Brands said.
“At 141, Andrew’s just gotta wrestle. I’m not sure what was wrong,” he said. “He had a big move and if the ref’s there, he could have called the fall and then it’s a great night. That’s not what happened.”
Penn State got wins from No. 5 Frank Molinaro (10-3 over Mark Ballweg who bumped up from 141) and No. 3 David Taylor (12-4 over No. 14 Derek St. John) at 149 and 157, respectively, to pull the Nittany Lions to within 12-7 at intermission.
Iowa, though, won three of the last five bouts, including a crucial upset at 184 to nail down the win.
No. 2 Ed Ruth won 10-3 at 174 over and No. 5 Cameron Wade capped the match with a 1-0 win at heavyweight. Iowa, as expected, won at 165 and 197, where No. 14 Aaron Janssen and No. 14 Luke Lofthouse earned a decision and major decision, respectively.
At 184, No. 16 Grant Gambrall upset No. 6 Quentin Wright, 8-3.
“We needed something at 184, obviously. Quentin’s an All-American. We needed him to go out there and give us his best effort,” Sanderson said.
Iowa is now the only undefeated team in the country. Penn State, licking the wounds of its first loss, is looking for a way to rebound.
“It’s an opportunity, a big opportunity and you either seize the moment and take advantage of it or you don’t. If you look at the tape, they wanted it more than us. I’m not sure how that could be possible but that was the case today,” Sanderson said.
“It’s just a great learning tool for us. Nothing teaches you a lesson more than losing because it just shoves everything right in your face. Now we’ll see how we respond.”
Two Penn State wrestlers said they thought the Nittany Lions would be just fine.
“It stinks because there was just so much buildup to the match and so much hype,” Molinaro said. “It’s not the end of the world. It’s bad but it’s motivation. It’s an eye opener.”
Taylor went a step farther in his assessment.
“They’re a good team but we didn’t wrestle to our ability. If we wrestle to our ability I still think we’re the best team in the country,” he said. “It’s still just a midway point. Big Tens and nationals are still down the road. This is just a way for us to improve.”
Iowa 22, Penn State 13
Sunday at State College, Pa.
125: No. 2 Matt McDonough, I, pinned Nate Morgan, 4:16.
133: No. 10 Tony Ramos, I, dec. No. 5 Andrew Long, 3-2.
141: Montell Marion, I, dec. No. 5 Andrew Alton, 11-9.
149: No. 5 Frank Molinaro, PSU, dec. Mark Ballweg, 10-3.
157: No. 3 David Taylor, PSU, maj. dec. No. 14 Derek St. John, 12-4.
165: No. 14 Aaron Janssen, I, dec. Jake Kemerer, 6-2.
174: No. 2 Ed Ruth, PSU, dec. Ethen Lofthouse, 10-3.
184: No. 16 Grant Gambrall, I, dec. No. 6 Quentin Wright, 8-3.
197: No. 14 Luke Lofthouse, I, maj. dec. Justin Ortega, 17-6.
Hwt: No. 5 Cameron Wade, PSU, dec. Blake Rasing, 1-0
Takedowns: Iowa 23; Penn State 14.
Records: Iowa 11-0-1, 4-0 Big Ten; Penn State 13-1, 2-1.
Indiana at Iowa, 7 p.m. Friday;
Penn State at Michigan State, 7 p.m. Friday.