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Win streak ends, but Hawkeyes wrestle Cowboys to a draw

BY SAM LOUWAGIE | JANUARY 17, 2011 7:10 AM

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The Iowa wrestling team ended a dual meet without a victory on Sunday for the first time since Jan. 5, 2008. It was the end of a 69-match winning streak.

Thanks to some close-match success, however, the Hawkeyes’ unbeaten streak remains intact. The 10th-ranked Hawkeyes tied No. 6 Oklahoma State, 15-15, in Stillwater, Okla.

Neither team won a single bonus point. Five matches were decided by two points or fewer, and another two were tied in the third period. Iowa won four of those seven close bouts, a significant improvement from their performance under pressure at the Midlands Championships. In that tournament, Dec. 29-30, the Hawkeyes were 8-of-17 in matches decided by three points or fewer.

Matt McDonough, ranked No. 2 at 125 pounds, took a 3-3 tie with No. 8 Jon Morrison into the final period, in which McDonough earned an escape and a takedown to secure a 7-3 victory. The sophomore said he was pleased with the win but lamented the fact he didn’t earn a bonus point that would have meant a team victory.

“I gave myself some opportunities to blow the match wide open, but I didn’t follow through,” he said.

After top-ranked Jordan Oliver beat Iowa’s Tyler Clark, Hawkeye sophomore Mark Ballweg took on Oklahoma State’s Josh Kindig. A third-period escape for Kindig tied the score at 3-3. But Ballweg responded with a takedown and two-point near fall, giving him an 8-3 victory. Ballweg’s brother, senior Matt Ballweg, couldn’t record a takedown in the next bout, dropping an 8-4 decision to junior Jamal Parks.

That brought up No. 15 Derek St. John. The Hawkeye redshirt freshman was aggressive early, earning two first-period takedowns for a 4-1 lead over No. 16 Neil Erisman. But Erisman erased the deficit in the second period, and the match entered its final period tied 4-4. St. John chose to start the period from the down position, and an escape and takedown in the final minute gave him a gritty 7-5 victory.

Aaron Janssen dropped a 6-2 decision, and then redshirt freshman Ethen Lofthouse won another close match for the Hawkeyes, beating junior Mike Benefiel 4-3. Grant Gambrall and Luke Lofthouse each lost 2-point decisions, which put Iowa in a 15-12 deficit going into Blake Rasing’s heavyweight bout.

Rasing traded escapes with Cowboy redshirt freshman Blake Rosholt in regulation, bringing the match to overtime. A takedown gave Rasing a 3-1 victory and salvaged a tie for Iowa.

The good results in close matches were encouraging for the Hawkeyes.

“Some guys showed a lot of grit when it came down to winning in a hostile environment,” McDonough said. “It just shows that you never stop fighting, and you can always make something happen late in the match.”

While McDonough called the end of the winning streak “hard to swallow,” he said he viewed it as motivation for the rest of the season.

“It was still another dual meet, and the goal was still the same,” he said. “But yeah, the history, being at 69 and falling just short, it’s motivating to start it up again.”


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