Wrestling: Hawkeyes' strong start fizzles in win
McDonough, St. John highlight Iowa's victory over Lehigh
IOWA CITY – Tom Brands walked into the postgame media room wanting more from his team.
“If you’re going to wrestle a guys out there who aren’t going to fall over when you blow on him, you’ve got to do something,” the Iowa head wrestling coach said.
The displeasure came after a 26-9 win over Lehigh Thursday night at Carver-Haweye Arena. The way the match started, no one could have guessed, displeased would be Brand’s postgame demeanor – even for him.
Matt McDonough made quick work of his opponent at 125, with a pin at 2:05. Iowa didn’t record another the rest of the night.
Still, Iowa impressed. Tony Ramos remained undefeated at Carver in his career with a major decision (12-3). Mark Ballweg followed suit with a 15-5 major decision at 141. The senior actually fell behind 2-0, but rebounded strong, something the Hawkeyes didn’t do down the stretch.
“He responded very well and that’s what we need,” Brands said. “That’s what I mean by controlling what you can control and going out and doing that. And he did that and that match could have gotten ugly.”
Iowa reeled off the next three matches too, to go up 23-0. None more impressive than No. 1 Derek St. John going up against No. 4 Joey Napoli at 157 and blanking his opponent 6-0.
“I felt like there was a lot of points out there, especially in that third period,” St. John said.
St. John had an opportunity late in the third, to turn his 6-0 decision to a major decision, but couldn’t complete the takedown.
After St. John’s bout, Iowa went 2-3 down the stretch, including three straight losses from 174-197. Even in the heavyweight match – one of the two wins-- Brands thought, Bobby Telford left points on the mat.
The same held true for Nathan Burak at 197, who scored just two points in a loss.
“Two points, you’ve gotta score more than two points,” Brands said. “We just got to not get ridden. We just have to get to our feet there because we’re pretty good when we get to our feet.”
Both Burak and Grant Gamball lost 3-2 decisions. They didn’t get a chance to display the same dissatisfaction their coach showed, but with 10 days until Iowa hosts Hofstra, it’s a safe assumption they agree with Brands’ assessment.
“Towards the end, those guys know what they need to do and you know they’re not quite doing it,” St. Johns said. “I don’t want to speak of them, but you know they’re not happy. They’re not satisfied. They’re working to right the wrong.”