Wrestling Weekend That Was: Spencer Lee isn't Iowa's only formidable freshman

Various happenings in wrestling for Nov. 17-19

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The whistles have blown and the college wrestling season is in full swing. Prep wrestling teams have begun practice and it won’t be long until hot gymnasiums across Iowa will be filled with fans yelling “TWO!” while taking in the scent of sweaty kneepads. College wrestlers are already competing and taking the first steps toward March. We’ll start taking a look the “Wrestling Weekend That Was” each Monday.

Warn-er-ing to college wrestling

Let this weekend, the first two weekends for that matter, serve as a warning to college wrestling’s 197-pounders. With all the talk about Iowa’s freshman phenom, Spencer Lee, his classmate, Jacob Warner, sent a friendly reminder that the Hawkeyes have two formidable youngsters who are less than a year removed from high school competition.

Warner captured the 197 title at the Lindenwood Open in St. Charles, Mo., on Saturday. Warner improved to 8-0 and has two tournament titles in as many weekends to start his college career. More than just winning a second consecutive crown, the way Warner accomplished the feat was pretty impressive.

Warner defeated Missouri’s two-time All-American Willie Miklus by a 16-7 major decision. Miklus is a redshirt senior and was ranked third by trackwrestling.com, finishing sixth and seventh at the NCAA Championships in 2015 and 2016, respectively. In the Luther Open on Nov. 11, Warner rolled to the title, recording an 18-10 major decision over Wisconsin-Whitewater’s two-time All-American and returning NCAA Division-III champion Jordan Newman. Warner has two pins, two technical falls and two major decisions in what remains a redshirt season.

Warner also won a wrestle-off by one point against current Iowa starter Cash Wilcke, who was a win from All-American status last season.

Joe Kelly commits to Iowa

West Liberty senior Joe Kelly has committed to wrestle for the University of Iowa. The three-time state medalist announced the decision on social media Friday. His father, Mitch, was a four-year letterwinner for Iowa from 1984-87.

Kelly enters his senior season with a 104-20 career record. He was third at 152 last season, reaching the state finals as a sophomore. He placed eighth as a freshman for the Comets.

UNI scratches out win in Big 12 debut

Northern Iowa posted a successful debut in the Big 12. The 13th-ranked Panthers (1-1, 1-0 Big 12) defeated North Dakota State, 21-19, on Sunday at the small, intimate West Gym in Cedar Falls. T

he dual came down to the final match and Josh Alber needed just 5:09 to earn a 19-4 technical fall over Sam Hampton. Alber, a two-time NCAA qualifier, is now 5-1 at 141.

In the dual, Max Thomsen (149) and Taylor Lujan (174) improved to 6-0 and 9-0, respectively, this season. Thomsen opened with a win over Princeton’s fifth-ranked Matt Kolodzik in the NWCA All-Star Classic. Lujan defeated Cornell University’s No. 6 Brandon Womack last week.

Bulldogs are back

Fresno State is in its first season since eliminating its wrestling program after the 2005-06 season. The program had a memorable Friday night, hosting its first home dual sincere Feb. 16, 2006. The Bulldogs lost to No. 14 Illinois, 33-10, but won over most of the 6,840 fans at the Save Mart Center. Fresno State reported that it was the third-largest crowd in program history.

Iowa NCAA champion and three-time All-American and Fresno State Coach Troy Steiner said the program can draw fans, but people have to be willing to support it and the Bulldogs have to produce an exciting product on the mat. He was hoping for 8-10,000, but it was good to resurrect a program when it’s been a struggle to keep NCAA D-I programs alive.

“It is good,” Steiner said in an online news release. “I knew it was going to be when I saw the setup. So many people have worked on this moment. I have worked on one aspect of it, but so many others should get the credit for the atmosphere that was there tonight. The amount of people that were there doesn’t come from me, that comes from marketing and the facilities staffs. The way they had it all set up was awesome.”

Coe's Metro flavor

Five Kohawks won titles at Saturday’s Coe Invitational. Among those titlists are freshman 157-pounder Josh Gerke and Andrew Holladay at 197.

Gerke is a freshman, who was a state medalist at Cedar Rapids Xavier. Holladay is a senior, who was a state medalist for Linn-Mar. Former Washington prep Demon Fletcher (133) and former West Delaware prep Jake Voss also (174) joined Cole Erickson (149) as Coe champions.

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

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