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TOM’s final thoughts from No. 1 Penn State’s win over No. 2 Iowa

 Pictured: Penn State’s Roman Bravo-Young (133). Image courtesy of Centre Daily Times. 

THE dual meet of the NCAA Division I season went down down Friday night in Carver-Hawkeye Arena at 9:00 PM Eastern on Big Ten Network.

 It’s the date we all marked on our calendars as soon as conferences released their respective schedules. The “Super Bowl” of dual meet matchups, if you will – No. 1 Penn State vs. No.2 Iowa, according to the NWCA Coaches Poll

https://twitter.com/theopenmat/status/1487063685512237068

It certainly lived up to the hype and was closer than the six-point margin, which favored the Nittany Lions, might indicate. 

With that, here is TOM’s final thoughts and analysis for Penn State vs. Iowa in a weight-by-weight breakdown format. 

 

No. 1 Penn State vs. No. 2 Iowa

 

New Dual Meet Record (Since 2009-2010 season): Tied at 5-5 

Series Big Tournament Ten Team Titles (Since 2009-2010 season): 6-4 in favor of Penn State

Team National Titles (Since 2009-2010 season): 8-2 in favor of Penn State 

 

The 2022 Dual Overview: The Penn State vs. Iowa dual meet rivalry was renewed in 2022 after a year hiatus in 2021 (the dual was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic). It was worth the wait. 

Penn State took six bouts while Iowa took four. Ultimately, the difference in the 19-13 Nittany Lion dual meet win was that Cael and company won the close ones.

On Friday, four bouts were decided by two points or less (133, 141, 157, and 174), including a pair that went into overtime (141 and 174). Penn State won three, including both overtime matches. The only loss of those four close ones for Penn State came at 149, a 2-0 decision for two-time All-American Kaleb Young over unranked Terrell Barraclough of Penn State . If any of those go the opposite way, the dual could look markedly different.

Currently, the dual meet record between the two blue-chip programs sits tied at 5-5 for Cael Sanderson and Tom Brands. The Nittany Lions, now 14-0 this year and 6-0 against the Big Ten. Iowa sits at 11-1 overall and 5-1 in conference meets. 

 

BOUT-BY-BOUT BREAKDOWN AND ANALYSIS

 

125

Regrettably, the primary storyline in the bout was the absence of Iowa true freshman Drake Ayala, who has taken the 125-pound weight class by storm, racking up ranked win after ranked win, since entering the Hawkeye starting lineup in early 2022. 

With that, Iowa’s Jesse Ybarra got the nod. The redshirt freshman hung in there against returning All-American Drew Hildebrandt.  

After a lackluster and scoreless first period, Hildebrandt got a takedown and rode hard in the second, using his length to his advantage. With a 4-0 lead late in the third, Hildebrandt secured a critical four-point turn to secure the major decision, winning 9-0 after riding time was added. 

Rumors of a shoulder injury are swirling as far as Ayala is concerned. If he cannot return, Iowa’s title hopes are in serious jeopardy. Hopefully, Ayala has a speedy recovery and returns soon.  

133

Austin DeSanto looked as good as he has in quite some time against 2021 NCAA champion Roman Bravo-Young. The Hawkeye was clearly the aggressor, logging four first-period shots, two more in the second, and a final shot in the last period. DeSanto’s relentless offense even earned him a stall call against the Nittany Lion. Unfortunately, finishing those shots proved problematic for the fiery Hawkeye – RBY successfully defended every one of them. 

However, RBY, who spent much of his match on the defensive, was able to convert on a shot in the second. That takedown, plus an escape, were enough for Bravo-Young to win his fourth in a row over DeSanto, winning narrowly, 3-2. 

That said, we likely see this match again in Lincoln at the conference tournament or at NCAAs in Detroit.  

141

My concern coming into this match was Jaydin Eierman’s lack of explosive offense all season long. That storyline can be put to bed now. As good and as dominant as Nick Lee has looked all year, Eierman proved he’s right there with Lee, losing 6-4 in sudden-victory. 

In true Erierman fashion, a big throw provided fireworks in the second, sending Lee to his back, but the Nittany Lion rolled through to prevent swipes for Eierman. 

In the third, we saw more excitement. Eierman, trailing 4-2 with riding time going against him, got the tying takedown and ride needed to eliminate riding time and force overtime tied at 4-4. What a final 20 seconds!

Lee countered a poor shot off the opening whistle and finished with the takedown via go-behind early in extras. It was a tight 6-4 final score between No. 1 Lee and No. 2 Eierman.

Next month, will we see this 2021 NCAA finals rematch at the conference tournament? Or, could Sebastian Rivera play spoiler in Lincoln?

149

It was a close, low-scoring bout, as predicted, between Max Murin and Beau Bartlett. With a 2-1 score in the third, Murin got the bout-clinching takedown, winning 4-1. The win, Iowa’s first of the dual, stopped the bleeding and cut into the 10-0 team score deficit. It was a gritty win for Murin and a bounce-back performance after losing a 3-2 heartbreaker to Ohio State 2021 NCAA finalist Sammy Sasso last week. 

157

The 157-pound bout was a mismatch on paper but was a war on the mat. Two-time Iowa All-American Kaleb Young used a full third-period ride to hold on and pitch the 2-0 shutout. The Hawkeye win sent the dual to intermission with a 10-6 Penn State team score. Terrell Barraclough may have lost, but the kid has some serious grit. 

165

Alex “The Bull” Marinelli has officially put his upset 3-2 loss to Ohio State’s Carson Kharchla behind him. Friday, Marinelli was dominant and controlled the match from the start. He was more aggressive and active on offense than usual. That increased pace paid off. A final takedown in the third on the edge of the mat gave Iowa a much-need major decision, winning 10-2. More importantly, the result tied the team score at 10-10 with just four bouts to go.

174

Not surprisingly, our second 2021 NCAA finals rematch, No. 1 Carter Starocci vs. No.2 Michael Kemerer, lived up to its billing. We even got some extra time. Starocci earned the thrilling overtime decision by the slimmest of margins, 2-1. 

There’s no other way to say it. This match was strangely officiated. 

Among the oddities: Kemerer was awarded two points in overtime, but they were taken away upon review. Also, Kemerer got a point for a stalling against Starocci. However, that too was also taken away after a subsequent review. Additionally, Tom Brands lost a challenge, which seldom occurs. 

Starocci was in on the leg numerous times, but Kemerer’s defense was top-notch. Similarly, Starocci’s scrambling prevented Kemerer from finishing on any of his shot attempts. 

I could have watched these two wrestle all night. The action was that compelling. Kemerer has now lost two in a row to the Nittany Lion, who is five or six years his junior, but the veteran Hawkeye is right there. As a 2-1 overtime decision between returning NCAA finalists would indicate, this match was a toss-up. This result could easily go the other way should it happen again in postseason play. 

184

Defending NCAA champion Aaron Brooks won this match convincingly, 8-3, but the true story of the bout was that Iowa’s Abe Assad kept the score to a regular decision.

Aaron Brooks has been on another level in 2022. Heading into the bout, the Nittany Lion was 11-0 with seven wins over TOM top-20 wrestlers and a bonus rate of 73%. To keep this to a decision is a testament to the growth and improvement of Assad. You have to love what you saw from Abe if you’re a Hawkeye fan. 

197

Is The clash of All-Americans Max Dean (Penn State) and Jacob Warner (Iowa) felt like two separate bouts wrapped into one. As is often the case with Warner, he looked sharp in periods one and two before faltering in the last period. Leading 3-0 heading to the third, Warner fell apart during the final two minutes, eventually losing 8-3. 

In the third, Warner gave up a point for stalling, a takedown, and was the victim of what sounded to be a very painful Bow and Arrow by Dean. The win clinched the dual for Penn State. 

285

The dual may have already been decided at this point, but that didn’t stop Iowa’s Tony Cassioppi from earning his best win of the season.

 Penn State’s Greg Kerkvliet had the momentum coming into the bout after he defeated then-No. 2 Mason Parris and then-undefeated Mason Parris of Michigan, 8-5, a week ago (1/21/2022). But that upset didn’t intimidate Cassioppi, who earned a solid 7-2 decision over  Kerkvliet to close the dual. 

Cassioppi gave up the first takedown before scoring seven unanswered points to complete the upset. Cassioppi’s comeback was aided by a pair of escapes plus a couple of body locks that ended as successful takedowns. 

 

Results 

 

Below, you can find full results from the dual meet.

Penn State Recap

Iowa Recap

No. 1 Penn State 19, No. 2 Iowa 13

125: Drew Hildebrandt (PSU) maj. dec. Jesse Ybarra (Iowa), 9-0
133: Roman Bravo-Young (PSU) dec. Austin DeSanto (Iowa), 3-2
141: Nick Lee (PSU) dec. Jaydin Eierman (Iowa), 6-4 SV1
149: Max Murin (Iowa) dec. Beau Bartlett (PSU), 4-1
157: Kaleb Young (Iowa) dec. Terrell Barraclough (PSU), 2-1
165Alex Marinelli (Iowa) maj. dec. Brady Berge (PSU), 10-2
174: Carter Starocci (PSU) dec. Michael Kemerer (Iowa), 2-1 TB1
184: Aaron Brooks (PSU) dec. Abe Assad (Iowa), 8-3
197: Max Dean (PSU) dec.  Jacob Warner (Iowa), 8-3
285:  Tony Cassioppi (Iowa) dec. Greg Kerkvliet (PSU), 7-2

 

Final Thoughts: Wow! What a dual. This one is worth re-watching if you can. The score, 19-13, does not do this dual justice with respect to how close it truly was. It was a takedown away (at 141 or 174) from being a Hawkeye win. From a fan standpoint, it was as exciting as you could have hoped for. I can’t wait to see how the rivalry unfolds in March. 

 

Ten Quick Gut-Reaction Takes

 

If Ayala can’t return, the Hawks are in trouble. 

DeSanto looked as good as I have seen against RBY in quite some time. 

I want to see rematches at 141 and 174. These are the epitome of toss-up matches. From what I saw Friday, I’m confident that both guys (Lee or Eierman) and (Starocci or Kemerer) could come out on top should rematches occur. 

I like a more aggressive Marinelli. We haven’t seen that as often lately. I hope we see him push the pace and score points as he did vs. Berge moving forward. 

Max Dean’s Box and Arrow is electric – and seemingly incredibly painful. 

Jacob Warner is a great competitor, but his gas tank worries me. 

I struggle to see a scenario where Aaron Brooks doesn’t become a 2022 NCAA champion. Yes, Myles Amine has a chance, but my money is on Brooks.  

Tony Cassioppi lives and dies by going upper body for a throw attempt. Cassioppi’s upset win has made the seeding heavyweight a mess moving forward. That said, it’s Gable Steveson and a race for second place as far as I’m concerned. 

The number of team points that both Penn State and Iowa can get in Detroit from 149 and 157 will go a long way toward determining which team places higher. 

As always, wrestling in March is sure to be a blast; These recent Friday night duals are proof of that.   

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