A long win streak for Matt McDonough is over, but the second-ranked Iowa wrestling team picked up the slack around him during a 25-12 Big Ten dual victory over No. 8 Illinois in Champaign, Illinois, on Friday night.
Tony Ramos and Bobby Telford both earned pins for the Hawkeyes, who won only six of the 10 bouts but got bonus points at 133, 157 and 285 to earn the easy win.
The victory gives Iowa (17-1, 7-0) at least a share of the Big Ten Conference regular season championship. The Hawkeyes can clinch the outright crown Sunday with a win over No. 13 Nebraska.
“We can’t let guys hang on and let the clock run against us,” said head coach Tom Brands. “There was too much clinging and too much stickiness. We can’t allow them to slow us down, and too many times tonight that’s what we did.”
Illinois (6-5, 2-5) started fast when Jesse Delgado upset top-ranked McDonough, 9-4, at 125, but the Hawkeyes counterpunched with a fall at 133 from second-ranked Ramos.
“He came out with a game plan against me and I had to make adjustments,” Ramos said following his eighth pin of the season. “I could tell he was beginning to wear down and I didn’t want to hesitate. I just opened up.”
Mark Ballweg used an escape and 1:55 of riding time to battle to a 2-0 win at 141, edging Iowa’s lead to 9-3. Illinois then answered with a 5-0 win at 149 to trim the Hawkeyes’ lead to 9-6.
The Hawkeyes got the momentum back when No. 1 Derek St. John scored a major decision 20-8 win at 157. That gave Iowa a 13-6 lead, but No. 8 Conrad Polz came out of intermission and beat Iowa sophomore Nick Moore, No. 13th ranked, at 160 to cut the lead to just four.
No. 5 Mike Evans and Ethen Lofthouse then recorded back-to-back wins at 174 and 184 to put the Hawkeyes back up 19-9.
No. 15 Mario Gonzalez cut the lead to 19-12 with a 3-1 win over Nathan Burak, but his lack of bonus points clinched the dual for Iowa with one match to go.
With the team win in the bag, Bobby Telford tied a bow around the victory with a first-period pin over Chris Lopez at 285. Telford finished an early slide-by and was working on back points when he finished the fall at the 2:32 mark. The pin was his fifth of the season
“We have to be ready to go Sunday,” said Brands. “We can’t allow the match to slow down. We need to be in control.”
The Hawkeyes return to the mat Sunday when No. 13 Nebraska visits Carver-Hawkeye Arena at 2 p.m. Tickets are availabel for purchase at the UI Athletic Ticket Office. Admission is $12 for adults, $8 for youth, and free for kids five-years old and younger.
#2 IOWA 25, #8 Illinois 12
125 – #5 Jesse Delgado (IL) dec. #1 Matt McDonough (IA), 9-4; 0-3
133 – #2 Tony Ramos (IA) pinned #10 Daryl Thomas (IL), 6:36; 6-3
141 – #8 Mark Ballweg (IA) dec. Steven Rodrigues (IL), 2-0; 9-3
149 – #19 Caleb Ervin (IL) dec. Brody Grothus (IA), 5-0; 9-6
157 – #1 Derek St. John (IA) major dec. Matt Nora (IL), 20-8; 13-6
165 – #8 Conrad Polz (IL) dec. #13 Nick Moore (IA), 7-3; 13-9
174 – #4 Mike Evans (IA) dec. #8 Jordan Blanton (IL), 2-1; 16-9
184 – #14 Ethen Lofthouse (IA) dec. #20 Tony Dallago (IL), 9-5; 19-9
197 – #15 Mario Gonzalez (IL) dec. #19 Nathan Burak (IA), 3-1; 19-12
285 – #6 Bobby Telford (IA) pinned Chris Lopez (IL), 2:32; 25-12