By Pete Ruden
After a warm-up meet at the Luther Open last weekend, the Iowa wrestling team will kick off its first home meet of the season in Carver-Hawkeye on Friday in the Iowa City Duals.
Last week was a good start for the Hawkeyes. They won gold in every weight class except heavyweight.
Seven of the final matches featured tw
o Iowa wrestlers, which helped clear up some confusion on the lineup for this weekend.
Weight classes likely set
While there were concerns before the start of the season about who would wrestle at 141 and 197, it seems as if those questions have been put to rest.
Head coach Tom Brands said senior Topher Carton took a big step toward locking up the 141 spot for the moment.
Carton won five matches this past weekend, including a 4-2 victory over teammate Paul Glynn in the championship round. There is depth in the weight class with redshirt freshman Vince Turk and freshman Carter Happel, but if that tournament was any indication, things are pointing to Carton.
“[Carton] definitely made a statement there, and we got to continue there, there’s no doubt,” Brands said. “He’s been in this position before, where he was maybe a guy who maybe could have emerged or asserted himself. Done a good job so far; got to keep rolling.”
Carton knows he’s on the right track, but he also knows there is room for improvement, as is the case with every athlete.
“I think it was a good start, a good jump-off-point kind of thing,” he said. “Looking back at the film, I saw some things I need to work on. I think if you asked the coaches, they would say the same thing.”
Though nothing is set in stone yet, it looks like redshirt freshman Cash Wilcke will occupy the 197 weight class after defeating his competition at the spot, sophomore Mitch Bowman, 4-0, in the championship round at the Luther Open.
With redshirt freshman Steven Holloway at heavyweight in the absence of NCAA qualifier Sam Stoll, Wilcke would hold the spot until Holloway returns to his original weight, unless Holloway is kept at heavyweight for depth.
Gunther sticks out
In a performance that stuck out to Brands, redshirt freshman Joey Gunther made a case for himself at 165.
Last weekend, Gunther got his career at Iowa off on the right foot by going 5-0 and adding a first-place finish.
Though the tournament didn’t have the level of competition that the Hawkeyes will see this year, Brands still sees some positives.
“I like Joey Gunther,” Brands said. “We’re looking for guys who are going to go out, and assert themselves, and do what they do best, and continue to get better, and it looks like he’s headed that way.”
Same level of competition
Iowa was the only Division-1 program competing at the Luther Open. That’ll be the case again this weekend, when the Hawkeyes take on Iowa Central and Cornell College.
While the competition might not be quite as good as the NCAA powerhouses the Hawkeyes will face this year, it can’t be overlooked.
“We got to be ready regardless,” Brands said. “Sometimes, you look at the competition, and you take it for granted. You don’t take anybody for granted … You have to be ready every time out.”
The competition will change soon. In the three weeks after the Iowa City Duals, Iowa is scheduled to take on Purdue, South Dakota State, and Iowa State.
This is a good time for the Hawkeyes to gain some confidence wrestling other teams before moving on to the next level of competition.
“It was nice last weekend to get out, and wrestle some other guys, and get some high-point wins the first couple rounds, and get some confidence and that kind of stuff,” Wilcke said. “Looking forward to this weekend, too, looking to do the same thing.”