Iowa's Brandon Sorenson wrestles Oklahoma State's Boo Lewallen during the Iowa-Oklahoma State dual meet on Sunday Jan. 14, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cowboys 20-12. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)brandon sorenson boo lewallen

Iowa’s wrestling puzzle falling into place

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With a win over Oklahoma State, the Hawkeyes are one step closer to the nation’s best.

By James Geerdes

james-geerdes@uiowa.edu

Tom Brands and Company added one more piece to the ever-growing puzzle on Sunday in Carver-Hawkeye with a 20-12 victory over Oklahoma State, placing the Hawkeyes that much closer with the nation’s top teams.

In November, Brands said that we would not see Iowa’s best team until late in the season. On Sunday, we saw a team much closer to what we were promised after the dual with No. 3 Oklahoma State.

Iowa won six of the 10 bouts, earning bonus points with a Brandon Sorensen tech fall at 149 pounds. The performance was greeted happily by more than 13,000 fans.

But just last month, Iowa was a much different team.

On Dec. 1, Iowa barely squeaked by Illinois, 18-17. The win came via a Sam Stoll pin at heavyweight. The next week, the Hawkeyes were challenged by a Rutgers squad and won, 23-15.

Iowa’s next major obstacle was the Midlands Championships at the end of December. But Brands’ squad hushed its doubters with a convincing team win, placing five champions.

A major piece of the puzzle came through the removal of true freshman phenom Spencer Lee’s redshirt. In his first match against Michigan State on Jan. 5, Lee pinned Rayvon Foley in 46 seconds to start his highly anticipated Iowa career. Next, against Oklahoma State, he beat No. 9 Nick Piccininni in a 10-5 decision.

Another piece came in the form of Alex Marinelli. The 165-pound redshirt freshman débuted against Rutgers, and he has swiftly worked to an 8-0 record this season, including a Midlands Championship under his belt. Most recently, Marinelli topped eighth-ranked Cowboy Chandler Rogers in a 5-2 decision.

But some pieces of Brands’ puzzle are yet to be placed.

“We have to figure out our personnel at 133 and 141,” Brands said. “I don’t share a lot of times what I say to these guys when they’re on the bench and I’m back talking to them, but I’ll tell you — yeah, I’m not going there. I just changed my mind.”

Phillip Laux and Paul Glynn have split Iowa’s duties at 133 pounds this season, but both have been unable to win big matches for the Hawkeyes.

At 141, redshirt freshman Carter Happel and sophomore Vince Turk have shared the load. Happel finished sixth at the Midlands Championships, and Turk lost earlier in the consolation bracket.

Brands is also recruiting a potential 184-pounder in Pat Downey. The graduate student was a national champion for Iowa Central Community College and placed fifth for Iowa State at the 2016 NCAA Championships. He was admitted into Iowa on Jan. 11 but is still considered a recruit, according to Brands.

Even with the Hawkeyes’ puzzle coming together, they still have a challenging slate of duals ahead of them. But with a win over the Cowboys, they are that much closer to the top tier of the wrestling landscape.

“This was a dual about two teams that are in the same category and two teams that are trying to get to the next category, and that means Penn State and Ohio State,” Brands said. “They are 1 and 2, and everybody else seems to be on the outside. To get there, you have to take steps. We took a step, and we have to keep moving forward.”

After Oklahoma State, the Hawkeyes will square off against No. 2 Ohio State, No. 8 Michigan, No. 14 Minnesota, No. 25 Northwestern, and No. 1 Penn State, all within the next month.

Click below for more photos

Carver-Hawkeye Arena is seen during the Iowa-Oklahoma State dual meet on Sunday Jan. 14, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cowboys 20-12. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa's 149-pound Brandon Sorenson enters the circle before his match during the Iowa-Oklahoma State dual meet on Sunday Jan. 14, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cowboys 20-12. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa's Brandon Sorenson wrestles Oklahoma State's Boo Lewallan in the 149-pound weight class during the NCAA wrestling meet between Iowa and Oklahoma State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, Jan. 14. Sorenson beat Lewallan 23-8. The #7 ranked Hawkeyes beat the #3 ranked Cowboys 20-12. (Ben Allan Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa's Spencer Lee defeats Oklahoma State's Nick Piccininni in the 125-pound weight class during the NCAA wrestling meet between Iowa and Oklahoma State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, Jan. 14. The #7 ranked Hawkeyes beat the #3 ranked Cowboys 20-12. (Ben Allan Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa's Vince Turk wrestles Oklahoma State's Dean Heil in the 141-pound weight class during the Iowa-Oklahoma State dual meet on Sunday Jan. 14, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cowboys 20-12. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Oklahoma State's Dean Heil is taken down by Iowa's Vince Turk in the 141-pound weight class during the NCAA wrestling meet between Iowa and Oklahoma State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, Jan. 14. Turk lost to Heil 4-0. The #7 ranked Hawkeyes beat the #3 ranked Cowboys 20-12. (Ben Allan Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa's Vince Turk wrestles Oklahoma State's Dean Heil in the 141-pound weight class during the Iowa-Oklahoma State dual meet on Sunday Jan. 14, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cowboys 20-12. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa's Brandon Sorenson wrestles Oklahoma State's Boo Lewallen in the 149-pound weight class during the Iowa-Oklahoma State dual meet on Sunday Jan. 14, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cowboys 20-12. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa's Brandon Sorenson takes down Oklahoma State's Boo Lewallan in the 149-pound weight class during the NCAA wrestling meet between Iowa and Oklahoma State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, Jan. 14. Sorenson beat Lewallan 23-8. The #7 ranked Hawkeyes beat the #3 ranked Cowboys 20-12. (Ben Allan Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa's 157-pound Michael Kemerer enters the circle before his match  during the Iowa-Oklahoma State dual meet on Sunday Jan. 14, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cowboys 20-12. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa's Michael Kemerer wrestles Oklahoma State's Jonce Blaylock in the 157-pound weight class during the NCAA wrestling meet between Iowa and Oklahoma State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, Jan. 14. Kemerer beat Blaylock 9-2. The #7 ranked Hawkeyes beat the #3 ranked Cowboys 20-12. (Ben Allan Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa's Michael Kemerer defeats Oklahoma State's Jonce Blaylock 9-2 in the 157-pound weight class during the NCAA wrestling meet between Iowa and Oklahoma State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, Jan. 14. The #7 ranked Hawkeyes beat the #3 ranked Cowboys 20-12. (Ben Allan Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa fans cheer on Iowa's 157-pound Michael Kemerer during the NCAA wrestling meet between Iowa and Oklahoma State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, Jan. 14. The #7 ranked Hawkeyes beat the #3 ranked Cowboys 20-12. (Ben Allan Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Oklahoma State's Chandler Rogers wrestles Iowa's Alex Marinelli in the 165-pound weight class during the NCAA wrestling meet between Iowa and Oklahoma State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, Jan. 14. Marinelli beat Rogers 5-2. The #7 ranked Hawkeyes beat the #3 ranked Cowboys 20-12. (Ben Allan Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Longtime Cornell College and USA Wrestling coach Mike Duroe is honored with a Lifetime Service to Wrestling award. presented to him by Dan Gable on behalf of the National Wresling Hall of Fame. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Two young fans look on during the Iowa-Oklahoma State dual meet on Sunday Jan. 14, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cowboys 20-12. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa's Brandon Sorenson wrestles Oklahoma State's Boo Lewallen in the 149-pound during the Iowa-Oklahoma State dual meet on Sunday Jan. 14, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cowboys 20-12. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Fans react during the Iowa-Oklahoma State dual meet on Sunday Jan. 14, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cowboys 20-12. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Oklahoma State head coach John Smith watches as Iowa's Michael Kemerer and Oklahoma State's Jonce Blaylock wrestle in the 157-pound weight class during the NCAA wrestling meet between Iowa and Oklahoma State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, Jan. 14. The #7 ranked Hawkeyes beat the #3 ranked Cowboys 20-12. (Ben Allan Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa's Mitch Bowman wrestles Oklahoma State's Keegan Moore in the 184-pound weight class during the NCAA wrestling meet between Iowa and Oklahoma State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, Jan. 14. Bowman beat Moore 10-6. The #7 ranked Hawkeyes beat the #3 ranked Cowboys 20-12. (Ben Allan Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa's Mitch Bowman wrestles Oklahoma State's Keegan Moore in the 184-pound weight class during the NCAA wrestling meet between Iowa and Oklahoma State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, Jan. 14. Bowman beat Moore 10-6. The #7 ranked Hawkeyes beat the #3 ranked Cowboys 20-12. (Ben Allan Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa's Mitch Bowman wrestles Oklahoma State's Keegan Moore in the 184-pound weight class during the NCAA wrestling meet between Iowa and Oklahoma State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, Jan. 14. Bowman beat Moore 10-6. The #7 ranked Hawkeyes beat the #3 ranked Cowboys 20-12. (Ben Allan Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa's 184-pound Mitch Bowman celebrates during the Iowa-Oklahoma State dual meet on Sunday Jan. 14, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cowboys 20-12. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Oklahoma State's 285-pound Derek White waits in the circle before his match during the Iowa-Oklahoma State dual meet on Sunday Jan. 14, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cowboys 20-12. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa's Sam Stoll wrestles Oklahoma State's Derek White in the 285-pound weight class during the Iowa-Oklahoma State dual meet on Sunday Jan. 14, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cowboys 20-12. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa's Sam Stoll wrestles Oklahoma State's Derek White in the 285-pound weight class during the Iowa-Oklahoma State dual meet on Sunday Jan. 14, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cowboys 20-12. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa's Sam Stoll wrestles Oklahoma State's Derek White in the 285-pound weight class during the NCAA wrestling meet between Iowa and Oklahoma State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, Jan. 14. Stoll beat White 6-4. The #7 ranked Hawkeyes beat the #3 ranked Cowboys 20-12. (Ben Allan Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa's Sam Stoll defeats Oklahoma State's Derek White 6-4 in the 285-pound weight class during the NCAA wrestling meet between Iowa and Oklahoma State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, Jan. 14. The #7 ranked Hawkeyes beat the #3 ranked Cowboys 20-12. (Ben Allan Smith/The Daily Iowan)

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