Small College Sports

Wrestling Weekend That Was: Luft Tuff powers Upper Iowa Peacocks

Observations in wrestling for Jan. 19-21

Upper Iowa coach Heath Grimm. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Upper Iowa coach Heath Grimm. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

The weekend was stocked with memorable moments. A night started with a special tribute that ended in a winning rally. A freshman phenom that continues to place college wrestling’s 125-pound division on its ear. Excitement again in Ames. These were part of the Wrestling Weekend That Was.

Luft Tuff powers Peacocks

With college wrestling teams in the heart of their conference season and prep wrestlers getting ready for a fast-approaching postseason, one of the best events happened in Fayette on Friday. Sure, the sixth-ranked Peacocks stormed back with three straight wins, including one from “hometown” kid Nick Baumler, but it was the ceremony before the meet that made the night special.

The Peacocks and their head coach Heath Grimm dedicated the performance to the late Logan Luft and his family. Luft was a 15-year-old from Charles City, who died after an ATV accident during last year’s Fourth of July holiday. Luft made the decision to be an organ donor and was the inspiration for Donate Life Night at Dorman Gymnasium.

Luft would have been a senior this season with a chance to wrestle in the 106-pound spot for the Comets. Grimm stood with the Luft family, including his parents and two siblings, and read aloud a letter he had written about Luft after he had died. He presented the Lufts with an Upper Iowa singlet as a “token of respect for Logan” after the team came out to Luft’s walkout song, “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” by Johnny Cash.

“I just wanted to make it official I wanted Logan to wrestle for me,” Grimm told the Luft family in front of both teams and fans. “The most difficult thing in recruiting is truly knowing the character of an individual. Many have had their hand raised. Many have set records, won big matches, earned titles, been declared elite status. We’ve had them all here, but at the end of the day all the winning on the mat pales in comparison to winning at life …

“To be the complete package is what every coach’s favorite athlete is within their program and that is exactly how I would describe Logan.”

The Peacocks (7-3, 3-1 Northern Sun) followed by pulling one out against No. 16 MSU-Mankato. Upper Iowa won the last three bouts, receiving upsets from 184-pounder Dalton Hahn and Baumler at 197. Second-ranked heavyweight Logan Hopp sealed the 18-12 victory.


“I’m glad and proud of the way these guys responded,” Grimm said in a post-match interview. “We added a little extra energy tonight with Logan Luft (and) the memory of him.

“Any way our guys can realize they’re doing things for a bigger cause, but what I saw (Friday night) was fight.”

Baumler dropped No. 9 Matt Blome, 3-2, scoring a late takedown to break a 1-1 tie. Baumler was a two-time state finalist at North Fayette Valley.

“This is his hometown,” Grimm said. “I know he’s from West Union. That’s just seven or nine miles up the road but he’s said this is his gym now and that’s a statement match for him.”

Spencer Lee impresses again

The hysteria that surrounded Spencer Lee has proved to be reasonable. The Iowa freshman has been everything he’s been billed since shedding his redshirt Jan. 5. Lee capped an eight-day stretch that has included two wins against returning All-Americans.

The Hawkeyes’ 125-pounder beat Ohio’s State’s three-time All-American and top-ranked Nathan Tomasello, 3-2. Lee, who beat Oklahoma State’s Nick Piccininni 10-5 a week earlier, rode Tomasello the entire second period and finished with 1:53 of riding time, adding a point to two third-period escapes to beat the 2015 NCAA champion.

Hilton magic, wrestling edition

Iowa State has a winning record. Seems right but seems so surprising at the same time given the rebuilding project that new Cyclones Coach Kevin Dresser faced when he came to Ames. Iowa State closed with four straight wins in a 25-16 victory over West Virginia Sunday. The Cyclones won their first Big 12 dual and moved to 6-5 overall.

Iowa State trailed 11-0 after three weights and 17-7 before the final win streak. Danny Bush (174) and heavyweight Marcus Harrington had pins. Dane Pestano won by decision at 184. Sam Colbray picked up a notable victory, dropping No. 19 Jacob Smith, 6-5 in sudden victory.


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Close criteria

One more takedown. One more escape or penalty point. Allowing one less point scored. All of it could have made a difference when fifth-ranked Loras faced No. 7 Coe Saturday at the Iowa Conference Duals in Dubuque.

The Duhawks won the dual, 17-16, receiving a point for winning the third criteria which is most match points scored in bouts that didn’t end in pins. Loras owned a 50-49 advantage, getting the victory by the slimmest of margins.

Duggan wins Winger

Iowa City West’s Francis Duggan won the 220-pound title at Urbandale’s Ed Winger Classic in his Iowa debut.

Top-ranked Duggan defeated West Des Moines Dowling’s second-ranked Greg Hagan, 16-7, in the final. He opened with two pins before a 9-3 semifinal victory over Glenwood’s Isaac Bales.

Duggan, whose brother, Pat, is on the Iowa Hawkeyes roster, was a state medalist in Pennsylvania before transferring to West for his senior season. He has committed to Iowa State.

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