By James Geerdes
Iowa hit the road this past weekend for meets against Rutgers and Maryland, and it was a tale of two different Hawkeye teams.
The Hawkeyes drubbed Maryland, 40-6, after winning six of the bouts with bonus points on Sunday. Maryland’s only points came from an Iowa forfeit at heavyweight, a highly anticipated match between No. 7 Sam Stoll and No. 10 Yousif Hemida.
Justin Stickley earned his first Big Ten dual win with a decision over Brandon Cray to start Iowa’s onslaught. Phillip Laux followed with a major decision over Jhared Simmons.
Carter Happel also earned his first Big Ten win with an upset over No. 12 Ryan Diehl, 8-7.
“My confidence is up, but it always has to be up. It can’t be down,” Happel said in a release. “You’re going to have up and downs throughout the season, so you have to keep moving forward.”
Iowa’s final seven again kept Hawkeye motion alive. Brandon Sorensen and Alex Marinelli pinned their opponents in the first period. Michael Kemerer, Mitch Bowman, and Cash Wilcke all won by technical falls. And Joey Gunther added a decision over Josh Ugalde.
Although Stoll was withheld from Sunday’s contest, head coach Tom Brands assured fans he is fine.
“Go out and do what you do,” Brands said in a release. “We won nine matches. Forfeited one. We feel good. Forfeiting heavyweight was my call. I’m sure it’s not popular with the fans, but it’s one of those things where you do the right thing. It’s early December. There is no issue with Stoll.”
Brands’ squad dug itself into a hole on Dec. 8 against Rutgers. Stickley lost by tech fall to No. 2 Nick Suriano at 125, and Paul Glynn lost by major decision at 133 to give the Scarlet Knights an early 9-0 lead.
Redshirt freshman Happel lost in his Iowa début at 141 pounds by decision, and the Hawkeyes were disappearing down a 12-0 hole. But Iowa’s closing seven found a way out.
Sorensen won at 149 by decision, and Kemerer followed with a tech fall.
Marinelli made his Hawkeye début and did not disappoint the Iowa crew. The redshirt freshman silenced the Rutgers home crowd when he topped ninth-ranked Richie Lewis in overtime.
Gunther kept up the Hawkeye assault with a 5-4 win over Joe Grello to give Iowa its first lead of the day at 14-12.
It didn’t last long. Bowman lost by decision at 184, and Iowa was back down, 15-14.
Iowa avoided the upset with its tail-end men Cash Wilcke and Sam Stoll. Wilcke won by decision, and Stoll delivered yet another pin to seal the Hawkeye win.
“We’re going to be in the funny farm if we have to keep digging ourselves out of holes,” Brands said in a release.
Iowa goes into its winter break 7-0 after its dominating performance against Maryland. Wrestlers will next see action again Dec. 29 at the Midlands Championships in Evanston.