Iowa wrestling coach Tom Brands did not have much to say after the second-ranked Hawkeyes’ win over No. 9 Cornell in the first round of the NWCA Cliff Keen National Dual Meet Championship in Minneapolis on Friday night.
The Hawkeyes and Big Red each won five matches in the head-to-head dual and Iowa only earned the win thanks to bonus points in four of those wins.
In the end, the second-seeded Hawkeyes won 21-16 and will take on third-seeded Minnesota in the semifinals at 1 p.m. Saturday.
“We have to move on now and think about Minnesota,” Brands said. “I don’t know what talking about this one does. We advanced as a team, which is good. But I would imagine that Cornell probably feels pretty good right now. We didn’t wrestle well in 10 weight classes.”
Bonus points were picked up by junior Tony Ramos at 133, Derek St. John at 157, Mike Evans at 174 and Bobby Telford at 285. The other win for Iowa came from top-ranked Matt McDonough at 125.
“You don’t want to be there,” Brands said. “The bonus points are good and it won the dual, but you don’t want to go 5-5 in matches.”
McDonough began the dual with an 8-3 win over No. 5 Nahshon Garrett and then second-ranked Ramos scored his 10th pin of the year over Bricker Dixon to give Iowa a 9-0 lead after two matches.
“I went out, wrestled hard, and knew I had worn him down,” said Ramos. “Coach said go for the pin, so I worked on top, worked the legs and got the fall.”
Cornell got back into the match with back-to-back decisions at 141 and 149. Included in those losses was No. 8 Mark Ballweg, who lost 3-1 to No. 10 Mike Nevinger.
“Ballweg needs to realize he needs to open it up more and not wait,” Brands said. “He was reserved or holding back for some reason. You can’t let the opponent take you there. That is a recipe for disaster.”
Three straight major decisions followed at 157, 165 and 174 and two of those wins came from Hawkeyes (20-1).
Top-ranked St. John won a 12-3 major decision over Jesse Shanaman before Cornell’s top-ranked and defending national champion Kyle Dake won 13-4 over No. 13 Nick Moore. No. 3 Evans then scored more bonus points at 174 with an 11-2 win over Duke Pickett. That made it 17-10 in favor of Iowa in the team standings.
“I like that,” Brands said of Evans scoring bonus points. “I like Ramos’ effort. He kind of does what he does and we like that.”
Ethen Lofthouse nearly upset fourth-ranked Steve Bosak at 184 as he lost 3-2. Brands said even though Lofthouse is the lower ranked, his guy wrestled to win. And losing isn’t acceptable.
“We can do more to have a better angle or deep penetration,” Brands said “It was kind of superficial there the whole match.”
Cornell (14-4) then closed the gap even more after Jace Bennett beat Iowa’s Nathan Burak, 6-3. That win by the Big Red made it 17-16 with one match to go.
Saving the Hawkeyes from an upset loss was Telford. The sixth-ranked heavyweight scored a 9-0 major decision over Jacob Aiken-Phillips to lock up the win for the Hawkeyes.
“It was just another match,” Telford said when asked if he was ready for the dual to be decided at heavyweight. “Like I said last time, you have 10 matches, you get what you get done, and you should have good results.”
The Hawkeyes’ 20 dual wins are more than any other team in the country. Iowa has won 20 or more duals six times in school history, including four the last six seasons.
The Hawkeyes return to the mat Saturday at 1 p.m. at Williams Arena. Iowa will face third-seeded Minnesota in the semifinals of the NWCA Cliff Keen National Dual Meet Championship. The two teams split 10 matches when they last met on Jan. 26, but Iowa won the dual 16-15 on criteria.