116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — Nelson Brands suffered his longest hiatus from competition since he started wrestling in fifth grade.
First, it was an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery. Then, it was a broken collarbone from an accident that also needed surgery, followed by convincing coaches and medical staff he was ready to return and finally nerves that accompanied his first match in almost a calendar year.
None of the above, nor Penn’s Nick Icontrera, were enough to defeat the senior 174-pounder.
Brands posted a decision in his season debut, Max Murin won in sudden victory in a top-10 showdown and Cobe Siebrecht closed with a pin in second-ranked Iowa’s 26-11 dual win over No. 21 Penn Saturday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“It’s awesome,” Brands said. “I get nerves every single match but it’s more when you don’t wrestle for that long. I haven’t not wrestled that long since I started wrestling in fifth grade.
“It’s crazy having that long of a break. It felt amazing. It felt great.”
His last match came in Dec. 21, 2021 against North Carolina State at the Rokfin Duals in Niceville, Fla. Brands has been on the mend and Saturday was just his third live action since the procedure.
“Felt great,” said Brands, who did have his left elbow taped. “I got in a little motorcycle accident about six weeks ago now, so that’s why I wasn’t wrestling at the beginning of the season. I broke my collarbone. I got surgery.
“That (shoulder) held out, right? No issues with that. ... Tommy John (surgery) is fun. It will be great. Feels good. Feels strong.”
Brands said he finally got the nod four days ago. He had insisted he was ready a week earlier. Coaches and medical staff gave him the green light.
“At a certain point, you have to have the decision that’s best for him,” Iowa Coach Tom Brands said. “After that, it’s his call.”
The younger Brands was efficient in his return. After a scoreless first, Brands scored the final five points of the match. He scored on his only shot of the match, taking a 2-1 advantage in the second.
“It felt beautiful,” Brands said. “I was being stingy. Kind of wrestling a little too stingy. I need to watch my match but I need to open it up more and let it fly.
“Definitely felt like I could get to his legs fairly easily. I didn’t. I was being kind of a wuss. Take it from Spencer’s (Lee) mouth.”
Brands closed with a third-period escape and a strong counter for his final takedown and 5-1 decision over Icontrera..
“I’ll keep working on that,” Brands said. “It’s my first match back so I’ll give myself a little bit of leeway, but I definitely need to open up my matches more.”
Iowa (5-0) jumped to a 17-0 lead at intermission, receiving a major decision from Patrick Kennedy at 165 to open the meet, consecutive decisions from Abe Assad (184) and Jacob Warner at 197 and a 9-0 major decision from heavyweight Tony Cassioppi.
Max Murin and Cobe Siebrecht ignited the Hawkeye crowd for the ride home. Both defeated top-10 foes in the final two bouts.
Siebrecht capped the dual with a pin over No. 10 Anthony Artalona in 4:02. He trailed 9-1 after being headlocked to his back in the second period, reversing Artalona to his back for nearfalls and the pin.
“I was just trying not to get pinned,” Siebrecht said. “I was waiting for an opportunity to roll him through and get off my back but I ended up catching, I don’t even know how I got it, his wrist and his elbow or something. I rolled him through to his back.”
Siebrecht has strong wrestling instincts. Feel and mat awareness came into play, knowing the exact time to hit the roll-through and having the right mentality to put his opponent away.
“When he got him there, he didn’t get him off his back,” Tom Brands said. “That’s the biggest thing. So, many times in that situation, you roll a guy there you’ll get nearfall or you’ll get only two nearfall and then there’s a little groan from the crowd of ‘oh, what could have been’ and it was actually the third. It was a roll-through, then another opportunity and then he just pressed him down the third time. A third effort.”
Siebrecht soaked in the reaction from the crowd and the Iowa bench. A rush of adrenaline from an exciting finish. One of those memorable moments.
“They were screaming. It was loud. Teammates were going crazy,” Siebrecht said. “It was awesome to be a part of it. Yeah, it was pretty cool.”
Murin battled No. 10 Doug Zapf. Murin scored the first takedown for a 2-1 lead that was erased by Zapf’s second-period escape and takedown. Murin forced sudden victory with an escape.
A sweep single and calculated finish to thwart Zapf’s attempt to grab Murin’s ankle and force a stalemate led to the decisive move. Murin scored the winning points with 36 seconds left in the two-minute period.
“Once I got on the leg, just patient,” Murin said. “We go over that every single day in practice. Fundamental finishes and that’s what I did.”
He was confident in his conditioning and told himself this was a fun situation that he’s going to miss when he no longer competes in CHA.
“We’re the most in-shape team in the country,” Murin said. “I felt pretty good going in there,”
Warner had to scratch out a one-point decision. He jumped to a strong start, leading 8-1 after one with two takedowns and four nearfall. He had to survive two turns in the second period that gave Cole Urbas a 9-8 lead, entering the third. Warner notched a takedown and a penalty point for an 11-10 win.
“Gutsy,” Tom Brands said of Iowa’s performance. “Gutsy at the end. Murin was gutsy. I don’t know how good he felt out there. It doesn’t really matter. Warner gutsy.
“We have to find a better lineup There were no slouches out there from Penn. It’s not a moral win for them either. I guarantee you that. Not with that staff and what I saw. We have to get better.”
Penn (0-1) won three straight matches, including a technical fall from Ryan Miller at 125. Michael Colaiocco (133) and Carmen Ferrante (141) added decisions for the Quakers.
Iowa hosts No. 7 Iowa State in the Cy-Hawk Series dual Dec. 4 at CHA, beginning at 1:30 p.m.
“I’m ready for Iowa State,” Murin said. “It’s going to be packed. It’s going to be loud, so it’s going to be a great environment. On to the next one.”
AT IOWA CITY
Iowa 26, Penn 11
(Individual takedowns in parentheses)
165 pounds – Patrick Kennedy (I) major dec. Lucas Revano, 14-5 (6,0); 174 – Nelson Brands (I) dec. Nick Icontrera, 5-1 (2,0); 184 – Abe Assad (I) dec. Maximus Hale, 5-0 (1,0); 197 – Jacob Warner (I) dec. Cole Urbas, 11-10 (3,0); Hwt. – Tony Cassioppi (I) major dec. Ben Goldin, 9-0 (3,0); 125 – Ryan Miller (P) technical fall Aidan Harris, 20-5 (7,0); 133 – Michael Colaiocco (P) dec. Cullan Schriever, 6-0 (2,0); 141 – Carmen Ferrante (P) dec. Drew Bennett, 4-1 (1,0); 149 – Max Murin (I) dec. Doug Zapf, 6-4 (2,1); 157 – Cobe Siebrecht (I) pinned Anthony Artalona, 4:02 (0,2)
Takedowns – Iowa 17, Penn 13. Reversals – Iowa 1, Penn 0. Escapes – Iowa 13, Penn 14. Nearfall points – Iowa 8, Penn 16. Penalty points (awarded) – Iowa 3, Penn 0. Riding-time points – Iowa 3, Penn 3. Total match points – Iowa 63, Penn 59. Attendance – 14,853.