SPORTS

Hawkeyes top Illinois, 25-12

Meyer sparks Iowa with last-second pin

Iowa's Alex Meyer works to pin Illinois' Zac Brunson with seconds to go in their 174-pound match in their dual meet at C
Iowa's Alex Meyer works to pin Illinois' Zac Brunson with seconds to go in their 174-pound match in their dual meet at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Thursday, Jan. 16, 2015. Meyer won by a fall in 6:59. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
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IOWA CITY — The Hawkeye Wrestling Club's Arctic Plunge could come at a better time for University of Iowa Coach Tom Brands.

He even admitted the cold-water fundraising dip might be the only thing that could cool him down last night.

Brands was worked up for a variety of reasons after the top-ranked Hawkeyes defeated No. 11 Illinois, 25-12, receiving an exciting last-second fall from 174-pounder Alex Meyer, in front of 8,652 fans at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Iowa won seven matches, but Illinois recorded a technical fall, major decision and an upset.

“I'm hot,” Brands said. “I'm hot under the collar, right now.

“I feel like they won the majority of the matches. They won three matches. I feel like they won the majority of the matches.”

The Hawkeyes performance, officiating, the opposition and a heated atmosphere may have contributed to Brands' post-meet reaction. Meyer only threw fuel on the fire when he ignited the Iowa crowd, scoring a defensive fall against No. 6 Zac Brunson with one second left on the clock while trailing 5-3.

The finish sent the crowd into frenzy as Meyer celebrated by raising his arms to encourage more from the fans. Brands added to the display, lifting his arms and even jumping off the mat.

“I heard cheering and the buzzer, but I heard a slap first,” Meyer said. “I was pretty sure I won.”

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The end result was good but both Brands and Meyer said it didn't have to come down to that scenario. The offense Meyer demonstrated to set up the fall could have been used earlier to build a convincing lead. It also relates to a couple other matches Iowa won on third-period scores.

“You can do that by just grinding it out and be up 15-1 and get the fall with one second to go,” Brands said. “That's what we want to see. I'm greedy. I'm a poor sport.”

Meyer was focused on finishing the tying takedown. Fortunately the pin came first.

“I knew I needed to keep my head up and stay above the ankle,” Meyer said. “That is going to be a lot faster finish and less scramble, but I knew he was draped over and I didn't know how much time was left.”

Iowa (9-0, 4-0 Big Ten) pulled away with decisions from Sammy Brooks (184), Nathan Burak at 197 and Heavyweight Bobby Telford.

Meyer found out Thursday he would fill in for second-ranked Mike Evans, and 165-pounder Nick Moore did not compete for the second straight dual. No reason was given for either, but Brands said both will wrestle at home next Friday against Northwestern.

Brands seemed even more intense than ever right from the start and things started to come to a boil at 133. Iowa's No. 8 Cory Clark suffered his second conference loss, falling to Zane Richards, 6-5. Clark beat Richards in the final of the Midlands Championships.

Clark fell behind early, tying the score 5-5 with 45 seconds left. Clark released Richards to set up a winning takedown, but Richards avoided one before time expired. Brands was animated, talking to the official.

Richards had two first-period takedowns to build his lead. Brands said that Clark should have been the one on the offensive early.

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“He is hurting right now,” Brands said. “He's a competitor. He does not take losing well. We have to get him tuned in right now.”

Josh Dziewa provided some late heroics to avenge an earlier loss to Steven Rodrigues at 141. Dziewa scored a go-ahead takedown with 53 seconds remaining for a 3-2 win.

The match opened similar to some of his previous matches with a scoreless first and exchanged escapes. He heard the broken record playing the same song until he decided to change the tune.

“I felt like I was aggressive,” Dziewa said. “He was trying to stay in good position and I was aggressive, which is good. That's moving in the right direction.”

It was the second straight match Dziewa won in the final period. It reverses the trend from a year ago when he struggled to score late.

“It's just trying to be a competitor,” said Dziewa, who could Iowa assistant Ryan Morningstar urging him to learn from previous mistakes during the bout. “I'm just trying to get out there and fight.”

One of the possible marquee matches did not come to fruition. Illinois NCAA champion Jesse Delgado, who is just 2-0, was with the team but did not compete in the dual against Iowa's fourth-ranked Thomas Gilman.

Gilman punished backup Dominic Olivieri, 18-6, tallying seven takedowns with three in each of the first three periods. He said he was not releasing any frustration in not facing the Illini's top wrestler.

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“It never crossed my mind,” Gilman said. “I'm stepping on the line, they are putting someone out there on that line (and) my mission is to come out on top.”

Gilman said the situation didn't bother him and he'd wait for the future opportunity, if it becomes available. He said he was already looking forward to the next dual against Northwestern.

“I don't know what the issue is, but it's not my issue,” Gilman said. “If he wants to show up at Big Ten (tournament), I'll be there. If he wants to show up at nationals, I'll be there. Maybe he won't. We'll see.”

Illinois fell to 8-2 overall.

 

AT CARVER-HAWKEYE ARENA

#1 Iowa 25, #11 Illinois 12

125 — #5 Thomas Gilman (IA) major dec. Dominic Olivieri (ILL), 18-6; 4-0

133 — #5 Zane Richards (ILL) dec. #4 Cory Clark (IA), 6-5; 4-3

141 — #8 Josh Dziewa (IA) dec. #13 Steven Rodriguez (ILL), 3-2; 7-3

149 — #3 Brandon Sorensen (IA) dec. Kyle Langenderfer (ILL), 11-5; 10-3

157 — #5 Isaiah Martinez (ILL) tech. fall #15 Michael Kelly (IA), 21-6; 10-8

165 — #8 Jackson Morse (ILL) major dec. Logan Thomsen (IA), 12-1; 10-12

174 — Alex Meyer (IA) pinned #6 Zac Brunson (ILL), 6:59; 16-12

184 — #8 Sammy Brooks (IA) dec. #20 Nikko Reyes (ILL), 7-1; 19-12

197 — #5 Nathan Burak (IA) dec. Jeff Koepke (ILL), 3-2; 22-12

285 — #1 Bobby Telford (IA) dec. Brooks Black (ILL), 4-0; 25-12

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

 

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