MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – University of Iowa coach Tom Brands said the hairs on the back of his neck were standing on end.
It was a direct result from the second-ranked Hawkeyes’ lackluster performance against the University of Minnesota.
The third-seeded and fourth-ranked Gophers won six matches and dropped Iowa, 22-15, in the semifinals of the National Wrestling Coaches Association/Cliff Keen National Duals on Saturday afternoon at Minnesota’s Williams Arena.
Some of the Hawkeyes’ results conflicted with fight Brands and the Iowa program are accustomed. He fumed after the loss, slightly thumping the post-dual press conference table while explain the team’s effort. It was the second straight year the Gophers avenged a regular-season loss to Iowa in the National Duals semifinals.
“We didn’t compete,” Brands said. “We have to compete better. We have to compete from the start of the match to the end of the match, no matter how many minutes or seconds that is.”
The Hawkeyes (20-2) seemed to be flying high early. Top-ranked Matt McDonough (18-1) opened with a decision at 125 and Tony Ramos continued his dominance, pinning No. 8 Chris Dardanes in 6:56 after building an 11-3 lead. Ramos improved to 22-0, winning half by pin and improving one of only two matches he has won by decision this season.
“It was big for them, no question, especially at the end (of the match),” Minnesota head assistant coach Brandon Eggum said. “He had done a fabulous job, coming up big for them a number of times now. To do it at the end like that was devastating at that part of the dual.”
Ramos was one of the few that received praise from Brands, but Minnesota (15-2) responded immediately. The Gophers’ No. 9 Nick Dardanes avenged a two-point loss to eighth-ranked Mark Ballweg in the January dual with a 12-4 drubbing. Dardanes scored five takedowns, including three in the final period.
“The takedowns were coming pretty easy,” said Dardanes, motivated to make up for his brother’s loss. “I think he was getting a little tired.”
Brands was asked if Ballweg gassed late.
“You call it what you want,” Brands said about Ballweg. “We got whipped, and you got to figure it out. I’ll put it on me but doggone we have to compete there.”
Ballweg’s output seemed indicative of the Hawkeyes overall. Brands said the demeanor of individuals regressed during their own matches.
“If you come out tough and then a little bit downhill and a little bit downhill,” Brands said. “I tell you what; an opponent will thrive on that.”
The Gophers took their first lead when Dylan Ness posted a first-period fall over Iowa’s Mike Kelly at 149, putting them up 10-9. Ness was looking to keep the fire going that Dardanes sparked, and erase the advantage Ramos gained for Iowa with his pin.
“Once that happened, in my mind I was thinking I’m not coming off that mat until I get that fall,” Ness said. “That was the mindset I had when I went out there.”
The Hawkeyes managed only two more wins, getting consecutive decisions from top-ranked 157-pounder Derek St. John and Nick Moore at 165. Iowa led 15-10 at that point.
St. John (22-0) topped Danny Zilverberg, 7-4, powered by three takedowns and Moore (14-6) used a third-period takedown and riding time to beat Cody Yohn, 4-2.
“Nick Moore, I don’t know how good he’s been feeling the last week,” Brands said. “Good job. Gutsy. Good job there.”
Like the dual on Jan. 26, which Iowa won 16-15 with a point on criteria after splitting the matches with an edge on match points, Minnesota closed with four straight decisions. Mat wrestling favored the Gophers, who tallied four total riding time points, including three in the last four matches, and two reversals. Logan Storley scored one in a 3-1 victory over Mike Evans at 174, and heavyweight Tony Nelson used one to beat Bobby Telford, 3-1.
“Who cares about mistakes, if you recover, but we talk about you don’t give up reversals because you’re high when you ride and don’t come off the bottom,” Brands said. “You’re giving matches away. Not points, but matches. You’re giving them away.”
NO. 3 MINNESOTA 22, NO. 2 IOWA 15
NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals Semifinal
(Individual takedowns in parentheses)
125 pounds – Matt McDonough (I) dec. David Thorn, 8-2 (3, 0); 133 – Tony Ramos (I) pinned Chris Dardanes, 6:56 (4, 0); 141 – Nick Dardanes (M) major dec. Mark Ballweg, 12-4 (5, 0); 149 – Dylan Ness (M) pinned Mike Kelly, 2:39 (1, 0); 157 – Derek St. John (I) dec. Danny Zilverberg, 7-4 (3, 1); 165 – Nick Moore (I) dec. Cody Yohn, 4-2 (1, 0); 174 – Logan Storley (M) dec. Mike Evans, 3-1 (0, 0); 184 – Kevin Steinhaus (M) dec. Grant Gambrall, 4-0 (1, 0); 197 – Scott Schiller (M) dec. Nathan Burak, 9-3 (4, 0); Hwt,. – Tony Nelson (M) dec. Bobby Telford, 3-1 (0, 0)
MEET STATISTICSTakedowns – Iowa 11, Minnesota 12, Reversals – Iowa 0, Minnesota 2. Escapes – Iowa 13, Minnesota 12. Nearfall points – Iowa 2, Minnesota 0. Penalty points (awarded) – Iowa 0, Minnesota 0. Riding time points – Iowa 2, Minnesota 4. Total match points – Iowa 39, Minnesota 44.