116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — Drake Ayala has envisioned wrestling for the University of Iowa since he was young in Fort Dodge.
He shared the same aspirations of many wrestlers growing up in the state. Ayala made his debut two days ago, but this time was a bit more memorable, earning his first official victory as a Hawkeye.
“Awhile, especially growing up as a kid, an Iowa boy,” Ayala said about waiting for this moment. “It was surreal.”
Ayala scored takedowns in the final two periods for a 6-1 victory over fifth-ranked Devin Schroder, kicking off top-ranked Iowa’s 36-4 Big Ten Conference wrestling win over No. 15 Purdue Sunday afternoon at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“It was good to get the win,” Ayala said. “I thought I wrestled a little timid. There’s always room for improvement, but it was fun.”
Ayala (11-3) dropped his first match Friday to Minnesota All-American Patrick McKee (the source of all three losses this season), but rebounded against his second straight ranked foe.
After a scoreless first, Ayala answered a Schroder escape with a takedown and ride out for a 2-1 advantage after two. Schroder made a few hard attempts to get out but Ayala was able to counter with returns, following the coaches’ advice from the corner. A crucial series in the match.
“You’re putting daggers in guys where it’s just not on the scoreboard with riding time,” Iowa Coach Tom Brands said. “It’s an energy factor that’s going our way. Just a really god job and awareness, realizing that you put the energy into it, you’re going to take the energy out of your opponent.”
Ayala broke things open in the third with another takedown, securing a riding-time point when Schroder was hit for a second stalling call.
“I think he wrestled more like his trademark,” Brands said. “More physical. Those types of things that are hard on an opponent. He’s a very astute competitor.
“It doesn’t take a lot to where he’s processing things the right way to make adjustments in a short amount of time and that’s a good quality to have.”
Ayala has handled the transition from high school to college well. He has made adjustments to his wrestling, making improvements between his two matches. Ayala is ready to go on a roll.
“I’m learning a lot every day,” Ayala said. “I’m pretty young, so being in here is a learning experience, for sure. It’s fun, though. I love it.”
Ayala is just the third true freshman to wrestle in his first year out of high school under Brands, joining Spencer Lee and Abe Assad. Nathan Burak and Justin Stickley started in their first year, but were more than a year removed from high school.
“I’m excited for him,” three-time Big Ten champion Alex Marinelli said. “I know he’s going to be on a roll from here on out.”
The three-time state champion and four-time finalist from Fort Dodge shed his redshirt Friday, replacing three-time NCAA champion Spencer Lee, who had season-ending knee surgery on both knees.
Ayala steps into the wrestling shoes of one of the all-time and most popular Hawkeyes. He owns a different perspective.
“I don’t look at it that way,” Ayala said. “They told me I’m the guy, so I’m the guy and I’m going to keep getting better each and every day.”
Iowa (8-0, 2-0 Big Ten) dominated the dual against the Boilermakers, winning nine matches. The Hawkeyes seemed more energetic than Friday. Iowa held a 27-4 edge in takedowns. The Hawkeyes allowed just one takedown in their nine victories.
“All of us had room to improve (from Friday),” Marinelli said. “They wanted to be better (Sunday).
“I think maturity. We just know what we can do. We know what we’re capable of. We always know good things will happen, if we wrestle our best.”
Iowa posted four straight major decisions in the middle weights. Max Murin (149) and Kaleb Young (157) won by major decision.
Marinelli and Michael Kemerer recorded consecutive technical falls at 165 and 174, respectively. Marinelli had nine takedowns in his 22-7 win over Hayden Lohrey.
“I ate my Wheaties,” Marinelli said with a laugh. “I just did stuff a little bit different. The weight cut was different today. Just doing the things I know how to do and going out there and letting it fly.”
Heavyweight Tony Cassioppi notched a first-period fall to complete Iowa’s 26th straight dual win and 22nd in a row against conference teams.
Purdue drops to 7-2 overall and 1-1 in the Big Ten.
AT IOWA CITY
Iowa 36, Purdue 4
(Individual takedowns in parentheses)
125 pounds – Drake Ayala (I) dec. Devin Schroder, 6-1 (2-0); 133 – Matt Ramos (P) major dec. Jesse Ybarra, 11-1 (3,0); 141 – Jaydin Eierman (I) dec. Parker Filius, 7-6 (1,1); 149 – Max Murin (I) major dec. Trey Kruse, 10-2 (4,0); 157 – Kaleb Young (I) major dec. Cooper Noehre, 12-4 (5,0); 165 – Alex Marinelli (I) tech. fall Hayden Lohrey, 22-7 (9,0); 174 – Michael Kemerer (I) tech. fall Gerrit Nijenhuis, 17-1 (2,0); 184 – Abe Assad (I) dec. Max Lyon, 6-3 (2,0); 197 – Jacob Warner (I) dec. Thomas Penola, 3-0 (1,0); Hwt. – Tony Cassioppi (I) pinned Michael Woulfe, 1:14 (1,0).
Takedowns – Purdue 4, Iowa 27. Reversals – Purdue 1, Iowa 1. Escapes – Purdue 20, Iowa 9. Nearfall points – Purdue 4, Iowa 12. Penalty points (awarded) – Purdue 0, Iowa 3. Riding-time points – Iowa 6, Purdue 1.