Iowa Hawkeyes

Iowa sends 7 wrestlers to Midlands semifinals

Hawkeyes have team lead with 114.5 points after day 1

Iowa wrestling coach Tom Brands. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Iowa wrestling coach Tom Brands. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — The Iowa wrestling team hadn’t competed in exactly three weeks.

The second-ranked Hawkeyes battled injuries and illness early in the season and the break couldn’t have come at a better time.

Iowa looked closer to form, advancing seven into the semifinals of Northwestern’s 56th annual Ken Kraft Midlands Championships on Saturday night at the Sears Centre Arena. The Hawkeyes pulled away from the field, tallying 114.5 points and leading second-place Northern Iowa by 38.5.

“Any time you have a team that’s beat up you want time and needed the break,” Iowa coach Tom Brands said. “We used the break well.

“I think our guys learned something from some of the carnage. We just have to wrestle harder and work harder when we’re out on the mat.”

Iowa pushed 11 to the quarterfinals, excluding redshirt Tony Cassioppi, who wrestled unattached. The Hawkeyes opened strong with victories in seven of their first eight bouts.

NCAA champion Spencer Lee led the early charge, needing just 2:23 for an 18-0 technical fall over Central Michigan’s eighth-seeded Drew Hildebrandt. Lee followed his takedown with his patented tilt and 16 nearfall points.

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“I have to keep moving my hands and feet,” Lee said. “And I’ve got to wrestle the whole time.”

Iowa moved two into the 133 semifinals. Second-seeded Austin DeSanto came as no surprise, rolling through the front side with a pin, technical fall and 13-3 quarterfinal major decision over Penn’s Doug Zapf.

The unexpected rep came in the form of Paul Glynn. Unseeded Glynn fought for four victories, including a 4-0 win over Brown’s Hunter Kosco in the quarterfinals. Kosco reached the quarters when top-seeded and former Ohio State NCAA champion Nathan Tomasello injury defaulted after a large lead in the previous round.

“It sounds so cliché, like I’m just going out having fun, but really that’s when I think I wrestle best.” Glynn said. “You’ve wrestled so many matches in your life. You know what it feels like to win. You know what it feels like to lose, so just going out there with the mentality that I’m going to wrestle every position as hard as I can.”

Glynn was extremely stingy. He surrendered just one point all day and outscored foes 10-1. Low-scoring matches haven’t been his forte, but it does show development.

“I usually think my style the higher the scoring match the more it favors me because of my shape, but today I put on two tough rides my first two matches to get that win,” Glynn said. “It’s something I’m not used to doing, but I’ve been focusing a little bit more in practice on the little things I need to improve on. I see it paying off.”

Interestingly, DeSanto seemed to be an anticipated replacement for Glynn, who was the 133 starter last season and the only Hawkeye not to qualify for the NCAA tournament. They push each other to be better.

“It’s awesome,” Glynn said. “The thing about Austin DeSanto is he is great for me to have around. He’s a great guy. I want to out-do him and he wants to out-do me, but really we’re teammates. We’re warming up together on the side of the mats and giving each other high-fives. That’s what it’s all about.”

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Iowa 149-pounder Pat Lugo, an NCAA qualifier in 2017 who placed fourth here a year ago, had a rough start to the season. He resembled his former self, rolling to the semifinals. He used a takedown and four nearfall for a 6-0 lead before Campbell’s fourth-seeded Josh Heil injury defaulted in the quarterfinals.

“It’s definitely the best I’ve felt all season,” Lugo said. “I did things right this time. I think I’m better in a tournament situation than a one-hour dual-meet weigh-in.

“It’s all little adjustments that make the biggest difference.”

Lugo opened with a pin, added a technical fall and two consecutive injury defaults for 7.5 bonus points to lead Iowa.

“I think just letting things fly (and) flow,” Lugo said. “If I force things I get tired. I get anxiety and end up being a close match. But, if I just let things fly, one shot doesn’t work I go to the next one and the next one and rack up (points on) the scoreboard.”

Second-seeded Max Murin (141), 157-pounder Kaleb Young and Alex Marinelli also reached the semifinals for Iowa. Marinelli had to fight off a challenge from Brown’s Jonathan Viruet, scoring a takedown with 18 seconds left in sudden victory-1 for an 8-6 decision. Young cruised with three technical falls and a pin.

Iowa has three remaining in the consolation round with Jeren Glosser (157), Jacob Warner at 197 and heavyweight Aaron Costello, who will likely be the team’s point scorer after top-seed Sam Stoll defaulted from the tournament for precautionary reasons.

“Those are the positives,” Brands said. “We have to build on those and get going tomorrow.”

UNI was 6-for-6 in the quarterfinal round, including a win from unseeded and unattached freshman Michael Blockhus. The Panthers lead Wisconsin, 76-69.

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Top-seeds Josh Alber (141) and 184-pounder Drew Foster, No. 2 seed Taylor Lujan at 174, third-seeded Max Thomsen (149) and fourth-seeded 165-pounder Bryce Steiert advanced.

Foster was dominant, opening with a technical fall, a second-period pin and then a 12-2 drubbing of Ohio State’s Gavin Hoffman.

“I feel good,” Foster said. “I’m going for things. I’m trying to get takedowns. I’m trying to get turns on top or riding tough.

“At the end of the day, it’s all in effort. Wins and losses are going to come. Both sides. If the effort is there, guys aren’t going to want to wrestle you again when they feel that effort and that’s something you can be proud of.”

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

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