By James Geerdes
The Iowa City Duals told Hawkeye fans what they wanted to hear: Iowa wrestling is good.
As team, the Hawkeyes dominated, and Iowa secured three wins to start the season.
Its morning began with a clinic against Iowa Central; the Hawkeyes won, 48-0. The Iowa wrestlers were dominant and thorough, starting with Justin Stickley getting the tech fall at 125, which would be his shining moment for the day.
Iowa continued its pounding of Iowa Central with technical falls by Vince Turk at 141, Brandon Sorensen at 149, and Kaleb Young at 165. Michael Kemerer, Mitch Bowman, and Sam Stoll added falls to Iowa’s rout.
After losing, to graduation, powerhouse wrestlers Cory Clark at 125 and Thomas Gilman at 133, the wrestling program was left with some holes in its lineup, and it showed in Iowa’s second meet against Buffalo.
Stickley lost at 125 by decision, and Iowa’s Paul Glynn followed with another loss at 133. But the Hawkeyes held Buffalo at bay for the rest of the meet. Turk continued his dominance at 143 with a 12-2 score, and Sorensen did his job at 149, forcing a fall in 4:40. Kemerer one-upped his fellow All-American teammate and pinned his opponent in 1:34.
“I’m taking it one day at a time,” Kemerer said. “[I’m] enjoying the process, enjoying competing. It’s great to be out here. I’m thinking about things down the road, but ultimately, I had a good day today, but tomorrow is a new day.”
Heavyweight Stoll outlasted his opponent in the second overtime round and eventually won, 4-3, closing Iowa’s meet with Buffalo and bringing the final score to 33-6.
The day concluded with a win by Iowa over North Dakota State.
Stickley had Iowa’s lone loss when he fell by a fall in 1:53 at 125. The Hawkeyes followed that pin with tech wins by Phillip Laux at 133 and Turk at 141. Sorensen won in an 11-3 decision, and Kemerer notched another tech win. Joey Gunther won at 174, and Cash Wilke pinned his opponent at 197. Stoll wrapped up the day with a pin in 6:13.
Turk, who missed last season because of an injury, put up 50 points on the day.
“It’s fun for our fans to see [Turk],” head coach Tom Brands said. “$15 ticket, and you just watch one match. You get your money’s worth with him. Just one match.”
Stoll made his season début after missing a chunk of last season as well. With a brace on his knee, he pinned two of his three opponents and showed grit in his overtime win.
Questions still loom over a number of weight classes for Iowa. Highly recruited true freshman Spencer Lee dressed and was ready to go at 125. Sophomore Alex Marinelli is still nursing an injury at 165, which Young held down and excelled in at the opening meet.
“I did some good things today, did some things that I didn’t feel great about today,” Young said. “I need to stay on my offense. I was too tentative … I’m capable of scoring a lot more points than I did today.”
The Iowa City Duals may not be Iowa’s toughest meet of the year, but it is a great start to the season, Brands said.
“It doesn’t matter what opponent you’re against,” he said. “It’s the energy you bring.”