Iowa drops third-ranked Oklahoma State, 20-12

Seventh-ranked Hawkeyes win six matches

Iowa's Alex Marinelli celebrates a win over OSU's Chandler Rogers at 165 pounds during the Hawkeyes regular season meet against Oklahoma State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Sunday, January 14, 2018. Marinelli won the match 5-2. (Ben Roberts/Freelance)
Iowa's Alex Marinelli celebrates a win over OSU's Chandler Rogers at 165 pounds during the Hawkeyes regular season meet against Oklahoma State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Sunday, January 14, 2018. Marinelli won the match 5-2. (Ben Roberts/Freelance)

IOWA CITY — University of Iowa faced a defining moment to its season.

The Hawkeyes have been grouped with second tier teams, chasing some of the recent powers in college wrestling.

Rival Oklahoma State represented an opportunity to show they belonged in the conversation as the next best thing after Penn State and Ohio State.

Seventh-ranked Hawkeyes made a strong case for themselves, winning six matches and dropping the third-ranked Cowboys, 20-12, Sunday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa will travel to No. 2 Ohio State next Sunday.

“We won some tough matches,” Iowa Coach Tom Brands said. “There were some good things that happened there.

“We have to get ready and go to Columbus a week from (Sunday) and you don’t congratulate yourself too many times in January. Maybe this is one time where you take a little bit of a breath, because we did point to this dual.”

The Hawkeyes (8-0) received gutsy performances throughout the lineup, starting with newly inserted freshman and sparkplug Spencer Lee’s win over sixth-ranked Nick Puccininni and closing with heavyweight Sam Stoll’s 6-4 marathon decision over Derek White in a second sudden-victory period.

Matches in between that may have made the biggest impact, including a pair of tossup matches at 165 and 184.

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Ninth-ranked Alex Marinelli wrestled No. 10 Chandler Rogers at 165, coming away with an exciting 5-2 decision that put Iowa up, 14-6.

Marinelli was in on numerous shots, but finished on counters, earning a takedown in the second and another in the waning moments of the third to seal it.

“I love Marinelli,” Brands said. “Every time I watch Marinelli wrestle I thank Ryan Morningstar for going out and getting that recruit. That’s Morningstar’s baby. Like a shiny red Ferrari, but he’s a workhorse, work truck or a lunch pail guy or whatever you want to call it.”

Mitch Bowman provided a little insurance with a 10-6 victory at 184, extending Iowa’s lead to 17-9 with two matches left.

In the only match without a currently ranked wrestler, Bowman scored four points in the final period for a 10-6 decision over Keegan Moore.

“He’s a little bit out of my weight class, so I haven’t felt his horses 100 percent,” Brands said. “Everybody up there that works out with him in those weights, he’s a horse. We just have to keep bringing him along and keep his shape coming. When he can stay in there for seven minutes, good things happen.”

Bowman was affective on his feet, getting in on Moore routinely and scoring three takedowns. He wasn’t fazed when Moore tied the match in the second with a reversal and takedown of his own. Bowman said he felt loose and he just needed to keep attacking.

“It is fun scoring points,” Bowman said. “You score points by repeated attacks.

“He made me fight for them, because he’s a tough wrestler that doesn’t give anything up, but the more attacks you have the more likely you are to score.”

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Bowman improved to 10-3. He contributed a much needed victory. With talk circulating about the possible addition of All-American Pat Downey to the Iowa roster, Bowman demonstrated he can be a solid option at 184.

“I think that I proved that I can control this spot (and) be a guy that can be in the conversation,” Bowman said. “I knew that I could be from the start of the season, but I think that puts me in the conversation now. I knew I could do stuff like that the entire time.”

Lee, who entered the rankings at No. 10, set the tone for the second straight home dual. He beat Nick Puccininni, 10-5, at 125.

Lee started hot, sandwiching four nearfall points between two first-period takedowns for an 8-0 advantage. He faded slightly, surrendering a takedown in each of the last two frames. Lee said he will go back to work Monday to improve.

“Keep moving my hands,” Lee said. “Keep moving my feet. Focus on scoring. I don’t feel like I’m a very good wrestler when I’m backing up.”

Brands said he talk briefly with Lee about the finish and hinted he may have to iron out his intake before duals. He isn’t worried about the young star.

“He’s fine,” Brands said. “He analyzes and moves forward.”

Oklahoma State wrestled the momentum away with back-to-back wins at 133 and 141.

Second-ranked Brandon Sorensen provided a big boost with Iowa down, 7-3, after three matches. The three-time All-American and NCAA finalist demonstrated his offensive potential, tallying eight takedowns including five in the third period for a 23-8 technical fall over No. 14 Boo Lewallen at 149.

It was the aggressive style that serves Sorensen well.

“When I’m attacking, that’s when I’m best,” Sorensen said. “When my feet and hands are moving together, when I’m feeling good, that’s when I feel like I can beat anybody in the nation. That’s what has to happen.”

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An early takedown and transition into nearfall points for a 4-0 edge allowed him to open up and let loose.

“It’s big,” Sorensen said. “It’s big in every match. I knew they were coming. I had to be ready. I had to be moving my feet and that’s what I did. I think it caught them off guard a little bit. Started off the match in a good note.”

The Cowboys (6-1) started matches slow, except for Kaid Brock’s major decision at 133, and didn’t close matches as well. Oklahoma State Coach John Smith said it was indicative of their season to date.

“It wasn’t one of our better matches,” Smith said. “Actually, I don’t know if we’ve wrestled a good match, yet. I think the tight matches, the ones we needed to win, we didn’t win.”

During Sorensen’s win, the Cowboys were deducted a team point. It turned out not to impact the team score, but it could have played a major part with Sorensen’s two bonus points and the Cowboys losing one.

“I was a little surprised he dinged me,” Smith said. “We had talked before the match and said a few things to me that gave me an indication that he didn’t want us on the center of the mat, but I wasn’t on the center of the mat.

“I don’t think he influenced the match any from the standpoint of the score.”

The Hawkeyes hit the strongest part of their dual season in the coming weeks, turning their attention to the Buckeyes. Iowa showed progress Sunday, but much work still remains for them to gain on the clear front-runners.

“This was a dual about two teams that are in the same category and two teams trying to get to the next category, meaning to Penn State and Ohio State,” Brands said. “They’re both one and two and they’re close. Everybody else seems to be on the outside. In order to get there, you have to take steps. We took a step. We have to keep moving forward.”

l Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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