The Iowa-Minnesota wrestling dual is always close and usually comes down to a few points here and there that decide the match.
That proved to be the case on Saturday night in Minneapolis as fourth-ranked Iowa and third-ranked Minnesota battled to a 15-15 draw but the Hawkeyes ended up in front because of a third criteria that saw Iowa win the total match points 41-33.
“I don’t want to nitpick here but we could have scored some bonus points,” said head coach Tom Brands. “You have to get bonus points when you can. We had some close matches that came down to finishing. If we finish we’ll see more things go our way.”
The Hawkeyes won five of the first six duals to go up 15-3 but then lost the final four matches on the night as the Gophers forced a tie.
There were no bonus points. And there was just one upset on the night. That is about as close as two teams ranked in the top five can get.
It was the eighth win over the Gophers in the last nine meetings for Iowa, which also won the takedown battle, 11-7.
“It’s a team win and winning 16-15 on criteria is better than not,” said Brands, “but we had a lot of situations we could’ve controlled and we have room for improvement. Now we go forward and look at Penn State.”
Top-ranked Matt McDonough extended his winning streak to 41 matches when he defeated No. 13 David Thorn 6-3 at 125. Second-ranked Tony Ramos then made it 6-0 when he dominated eighth-ranked Chris Dardanes, 8-2, at 133.
In battle between two guys sitting side-by-side in the national rankings, No. 9 Mark Ballweg took down No. 10 Nick Dardanes, 3-1, at 141.
But perhaps the biggest wins of the day came at 157 and 165. Top-ranked Derek St. John won his match at 157 6-2 over Danny Zilverberg and No. 18 Nick Moore upset No. 10 Cody Yohn at 165. Moore won his match 8-2 and that difference played a big role in the Hawkeyes winning that third criteria.
Iowa lost the final four matches by a total of seven points.
“You call them upsets, but we don’t see it that way,” Brands said. “I guess they would be toss ups if you are unbiased. But we like our guys there. We like all 10 of our guys.”
No. 6 Mike Evans lost 4-3 to No. 2 Logan Storley at 174, No. 14 Ethen Lofthouse lost to No. 5 Kevin Steinhaus 6-3 at 184 and No. 20 Nathan Burak was defeated 3-1 in Sudden Victory by No. 12 Scott Schiller.
The final match of the night could have sealed the win for the Hawkeyes, but Iowa came out on the short end of that one as well following No. 5 Bobby Telford’s 2-1 loss to No. 2 Tony Nelson at heavyweight.
“If you look at Evans, Telford and Burak, those matches come down to finishing,” Brands said. “If we finish, those matches go our way and we don’t need the criteria.
The Hawkeyes (15-1, 5-0) return to the mat Friday when they host top-ranked and undefeated Penn State on Mediacom Mat at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The dual will begin at 8:04 p.m. Tickets are available by calling 800-IA-HAWKS or visiting hawkeyesports.com.
The Hawkeyes are 6-0 at home this season. The Nittany Lions are the two-time defending national champions.