Iowa Hawkeyes

Iowa vs. Iowa State wrestling: Hawkeyes' depth provides lineup options

Hawkeyes have won last 15 meetings in Cy-Hawk Series

Iowa wrestler Austin DeSanto, a junior wrestling at 133, smiles to a teammate during Iowa Wrestling media day at Kroul Farms in Mount Vernon on Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)
Iowa wrestler Austin DeSanto, a junior wrestling at 133, smiles to a teammate during Iowa Wrestling media day at Kroul Farms in Mount Vernon on Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)
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IOWA CITY — Iowa wrestling coach Tom Brands faces a dilemma most of his colleagues wouldn’t mind.

Consider it more of a luxury than an issue.

The Hawkeyes’ probable lineup for in-state rival Iowa State had five wrestlers listed at 133 and 141 pounds when it was initially released. They also have an either/or at 184 as well.

“We’ve got some really tough guys and we’ve got more tough guys than we have weight classes,” Brands said. “That’s a great problem to have. Depth is a great problem.”

Second-ranked Iowa has plenty of alternatives of who it sends on the mat to try to extend its success against the 11th-ranked Cyclones in the annual Cy-Hawk Series Sunday at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, starting at 2 p.m.

The Hawkeyes (1-0) have won 15 straight in the series, including all 14 during Brands’ tenure. Iowa has won by an average of almost 14 points in that stretch.

“This is a big week for us,” Brands said. “It’s on the (radar) nationwide, so that says a lot about the state of wrestling in the state of Iowa.”

The logjam of talent in the lower weights include All-American Austin DeSanto, former starter Paul Glynn and four-time Pennsylvania state champ and former Penn State wrestler Gavin Teasdale at 133. National qualifier Max Murin and former Lisbon four-time state champion Carter Happel, who has two victories over ranked foes, are listed at 141.

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Each presents their own unique wrestling style, which helps when they face different techniques in competition.

“It’s a battle every day,” DeSanto said. “Our depth is pretty good. Our 133- and 141-pounders are really good.

“It’s a really good element for the whole team.”

In the season-opening shutout over Chattanooga, Glynn won at 133 and DeSanto posted a technical fall at 141. Happel won the Luther Open, while Murin won his first match and medical forfeited from the tournament. Teasdale was third. Happel had three falls and a major, pinning Wartburg NCAA Division III champion Brock Rathbun in the semifinals.

“The Happel that I know, that I remember that we recruited, that’s what that Happel was able to do,” Brands said. “Keep himself in good position. Keep himself in contention, no matter what happens, no matter what it seems like. Win under adversity.”

Brands said how the wrestlers look in every area in the sport and lifestyle will play a big factor. The lineup could change through the Midlands Championships in late December.

“We’ve got options,” Brands said. “We’re going to exhaust those options.”

They push each other in the practice room and pull for team success overall.

“We’re a family,” two-time NCAA champion Spencer Lee said. “We’re a team that wants everyone to improve and get better every day.

“They do a great job. There is no animosity within any of these guys. It’s just if it’s their time they have to be ready to go. They have to train like they’re the guy.”

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Whoever gets the nod should expect a hostile environment versus the Cyclones (1-0) in a dual with 19 total ranked wrestlers. Iowa State threatened to win last year, falling 19-18.

The Cyclones won a few come-from-behind matches with late scores. Iowa State’s Ian Parker (141), Jarrett Degen (149) and 184-pounder Sam Colbray notched key wins and will likely participate in rematches.

The Hawkeyes have to finish those matches better, which is a lesson learned early in the sport.

“It’s you against another guy,” Brands said. “You don’t let up. When you let up you’re vulnerable. We just have to finish matches, finish holds and wrestle seven minutes. If it’s longer than that you’ve got to wrestle focused and intense for more than that.”

Iowa’s No. 3 Pat Lugo surrendered leads in both matches with No. 6 Degen last season and will look to turn those around Sunday.

“When things are going his way he needs to put the clamps on the guy in a real fundamental way,” Brands said. “I remember in the national tournament match where we did some good things and then started going into positions that favored a scrambler or a slippery guy. You’ve got to be button-down there and he knows it.”

Colbray toppled three-time NCAA qualifier Cash Wilcke last season. Wilcke won a title at Luther Saturday, while redshirt freshman Nelson Brands recorded a decision against Chattanooga. Wilcke was impressive in the open event.

“Wilcke got stronger as the tournament went on,” Brands said. “He had maybe some tight first periods and looked good blowing them open. He had a fall in the semi and the final. That’s what we look for.”

At 157, the Hawkeyes’ second-ranked Kaleb Young could face No. 6 David Carr. Young is a returning All-American and Carr is a young gun in his first college season, making the Junior World Team member this year.

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“I wrestled young guys like that last year,” Young said. “I try to take it like I would wrestling any other opponent. Carr has accomplished big things, so it’s not like he hasn’t proven himself.”

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

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