Iowa Hawkeyes

Wrestling Weekend That Was: Iowa's Keegan Shaw successful in starting debut

ISU wrangled by Cowboys; Michigan upset; Esmoil knocks off top-ranked foe

Iowa's Keegan Shaw wrestles Northwestern's Johnny Sebastian during a dual on Jan. 28, 2019, in Evanston, Ill. Shaw won, 11-6. (Matt Nelson/hawkeyesports.com)
Iowa's Keegan Shaw wrestles Northwestern's Johnny Sebastian during a dual on Jan. 28, 2019, in Evanston, Ill. Shaw won, 11-6. (Matt Nelson/hawkeyesports.com)

The highlights ranged from successful debuts to mild upsets. Wrestling action is heating up, even if the weather is cooling down. This is the Wrestling Weekend That Was:

Keegan Shaw's debut

Unless you listened carefully to Iowa Coach Tom Brands mention his name in a news conference long before his debut, you may not have known Keegan Shaw’s name. You may hear it a little more often after the junior went 2-0 in his first two dual starts for the Hawkeyes.

Shaw was 12-4 at 157 pounds before a chance to step in for Mitch Bowman at 174 against Illinois Friday and Sunday at Northwestern. He responded with a 6-2 victory over the Illini’s Nick Gasbarro and followed it with an 11-6 decision over Northwestern’s two-time NCAA qualifier and previously ranked Johnny Sebastian.

“I thought I was ready to go,” Shaw told media after the Sebastian victory. “My head was right. All weekend I was focused.

“I knew I was going all week, or at least I had it in my head I was going all week, so when the time came I was ready to step out there. I thought I wrestled pretty well.”

Shaw, a three-time state medalist for Southeast Polk, owned a 22-9 career mark before this season. The team seemed to enjoy his win over Gasbarro and he was greeted by Brands for “five” as he walked off the mat.

“The Illinois match was a big debut for him,” Brands said. “I was very excited and fired up for him.”

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Brands also noted that Shaw (or John Keegan Shaw as Brands refers to him) has Hawkeye connections. His uncle, and high school coach, Jessman Smith was a two-time All-American (2002-03) for Iowa.

Shaw capitalized on his opportunity, filling in for Bowman, who has lost his last four matches at 174, dropping down when Michael Kemerer and Myles Wilson suffered season-ending injuries. He may have earned himself more chances to compete.

“He’s big and strong. Heck, yeah,” Brands said. “We want guys who want to be in there. He wants to be in there.”

Iowa State falls

Iowa State Coach Kevin Dresser isn’t likely chalking the Cyclones' weekend up as a morale victory but ISU fans have to feel good about the showing. On Friday, the Cyclones claimed their first win over Oklahoma 25-6 at Hilton Coliseum since 2009, giving them a six-dual win streak and longest since the 2010-11 season.

Iowa State dropped its first Big 12 dual Sunday, losing to No. 3 and unbeaten Oklahoma State, 22-15, at Stillwater, Okla. The Cyclones won four bouts, getting wins from former Independence prep Chase Straw at 157 and 197-pounder Willie Miklus, who earned his 50th career dual victory.

Ian Parker (141) had two wins over ranked foes during the weekend and Oklahoma State’s second-ranked Daton Fix needed riding time to beat No. 8 Austin Gomez at 133.

“Good weekend,” Dresser said during his weekly news conference. “I don’t think you can say great weekend unless you get two W’s (wins).

“Definitely something to build off of. I think the theme of this team is I think we’re getting tougher. I like that ..."

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Wolverines upset

ixth-ranked Michigan recorded a mild upset Friday, beating No. 2 Ohio State, 19-17, at Columbus, Ohio.

The Wolverines won six bouts but needed a decision from true freshman and seventh-ranked Mason Parris at heavyweight to secure the win.

Esmoil takes down No. 1

West Liberty’s Class 2A fourth-ranked Will Esmoil defeated Monticello’s top-ranked Chase Luensman to win the 145-pound title at the River Valley Conference.

Esmoil improved to 27-2 with a 7-5 victory, scoring takedowns in the first and second period with three third-period escapes.

This and that

• Lisbon’s Cael Happel recorded his 150th victory Saturday, winning the 132-pound title at the Tri-Rivers Conference tournament. He is 41-0 this season with a career mark of 152-5

• Iowa City Regina’s Nick Milder won the 182-pound River Valley Conference title, becoming a four-time RVC champion

• Center Point-Urbana’s third-ranked Caleb Fuessley became the eighth wrestler to win four Wamac Conference tournament titles, posting two technical falls and a 14-7 decision over Mount Vernon’s No. 6 Ryan Clark.

Title sweep

Not only did Cedar Rapids Kennedy win its first Mississippi Valley Conference Super Meet team title Saturday, the Cougars are 9-2 in duals with a 6-0 conference record to claim the MVC Valley Division crown.

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

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