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Iowa Hawkeyes

Wrestling notes: Iowa's Kaleb Young continues to impress as full-time starter

Sophomore had impressive win to move to 12-1; Reaction to new rule; Wartburg looks to extend conference duals streak

Iowa's Kaleb Young wrestles Lehigh's Josh Humphreys in their 157-pound bout at an Iowa Hawkeyes dual with Lehigh Mountain Hawks at Carver Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Iowa's Kaleb Young wrestles Lehigh's Josh Humphreys in their 157-pound bout at an Iowa Hawkeyes dual with Lehigh Mountain Hawks at Carver Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Kaleb Young has continued his transformation from unselfish part-time starter to an All-American contender.

The few eyes that haven’t been fixed on his ascension up the 157-pound rankings are probably locked on the highlights of his exciting victory that opened fourth-ranked Iowa’s 24-10 over No. 7 Minnesota on Sunday.

Fourth-ranked Young prevented Steve Bleise from scoring a go-ahead takedown by hitting an impressive throw for a six-point move and 7-1 decision. The victory was his first against a top-10 opponent, improving his record to 12-1 this season and following a runner-up finish at the Midlands Championships.

“A lot of people are telling me it was awesome or whatever,” Young said during the team’s weekly media availability. “I’m not going to let that define me. I’m going to keep building so that way I don’t have to let it come down to a big throw at the end. I can be winning 10-2 so I’m dominating guys and not letting them get a breath. I just have to take it and keep building on it.”

He showed a lot of poise turning the flurry into his own winning move. Young showed good mat sense and explosion.

“We were relaxed in there and didn’t panic,” Iowa Coach Tom Brands said. “He hit it at the right time. He hit it at a perfect time.

“He’s good upper body. We’ve got a team that’s dangerous up there.”

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Young has become a reliable staple in the lineup after moving up as many as two weight classes to help solidify the Hawkeyes' lineup. He filled in at 165 and vied for the 174 job before NCAA qualifier Joey Gunther, now at Illinois, earned the postseason nod.

He has capitalized on this opportunity.

“Wherever you are in the lineup, you always have a role,” Young said. “Last year, I had a role and it wasn’t at all what I wanted it to be. This year, I feel like I’m stepping up better and taking care of business. I just need to keep it going.”

Brands said Young has the ability to tally more points. The key is to trust in his offense and take more attempts.

“We were 0-for-1 and we need to be on him nine, 10, 12 attempts,” Brands said. “Be relentless and believe in the things I talked about. When our guys get ready, which Kaleb Young does a great job, he’s disciplined. He gets ready to go and he wrestles hard for seven minutes. Not just hard to keep it close. Hard to score points.

Young is expected to face another ranked opponent — No. 15 John Vanbrill — when Iowa hosts No. 20 Rutgers Friday at 8 p.m.

New rule causes stir

College wrestling introduced a rule this season, deeming hands to the face as unnecessary roughness and an automatic penalty point. According to correspondence from NCAA Wrestling Secretary Rules Editor Chuck Barbee, unnecessary roughness involves physical acts that occur during a match, including acts that go beyond normal aggressiveness.

The memo continues to mention any slap to the head or face, gouging or poking of eyes and forceful crossface are penalized actions. This applies to all levels, including NCAA Division III.

The new rule has already made an impact. It led to the decisive point in a top-four battle between Oklahoma State freshman Daton Fix and Rutgers NCAA finalist Nick Suriano in the second sudden-victory period.

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“It’s a rule, so like it or not, have to comply,” Northern Iowa Coach Doug Schwab told The Gazette in a text. “As the rule is written, it’s being applied appropriately.”

The rule eliminates any discretion from the official. Any time the digits, palm or base of the palm hit the opponents’ eyes, nose or mouth area it is supposed to be called, even if it isn’t flagrant.

Iowa Coach Tom Brands said hands to the face when disrupting offense and eye-poking is a problem. A zero-tolerance policy for a judgment call may not be the right way to handle it.

Brands said officiating has not been as sharp because referees have so much to decipher during a match, including varied stalling interpretations on the edge of the mat, false starts, the neutral danger zone and now hands to the face.

“The bottom line is we’re headed in the wrong direction,” Brands said. “In my opinion, and I’ve said this, we’re trying to make it easy for the referees and say what we can and can’t do and what we’ve got to do is reward action. We’ve got to get points on the board. Call stalling. Reward action. Get points on the board. Not slow it down.”

Wartburg streak at 208

Wartburg takes a streak of 208 consecutive conference dual victories into the American Rivers Conference Duals on Saturday. The Knights have not lost a conference dual since February 1994.

Third-ranked Wartburg (9-1) hosts Buena Vista, No. 12 Central and Dubuque. Eighth-ranked Loras and No. 10 Coe highlight the rest of the conference hosted by Simpson.

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

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