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Dominance re-established as Iowa wrestlers top No. 1 Penn State

BY SAM LOUWAGIE | JANUARY 31, 2011 7:10 AM

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On Jan. 28 against Northwestern, Matt McDonough used an out-of-nowhere headlock to knock off his top-ranked opponent, Brandon Precin.

On Sunday, the rest of the Hawkeye wrestling team followed his lead.

The eighth-ranked Iowa wrestling team won the first three matches to jump out to a 12-0 lead en route to a 22-13 shocker over No. 1 Penn State in State College, Pa., on Sunday.

After the departure of last year’s decorated senior class, the three-time defending champion Hawkeyes moved down a few spots in the preseason rankings. And an uneven performance at the Midlands Championships on Dec. 29-30 didn’t help. But Sunday’s win, McDonough said, shows Iowa is still firmly in national-championship contention.

“We showed people this is not a rebuilding year,” he said. “And we’re not going to settle for middle of the pack. We want national championships.”

Two days earlier, McDonough trailed Precin, 3-0, in the third period. Precin had effectively defended McDonough during the match, and he had done the same when he gave the Marion native his only defeat of the season. But McDonough, the defending national champion at 125 pounds, felt an opening and threw Precin to the mat for a pin.

Iowa went on to beat Northwestern, 31-9.

McDonough again started things off for Iowa with a fall on Sunday — his third consecutive — by pinning Penn State’s Nate Morgan in 4:16.

Next, Tony Ramos, ranked 10th by Intermat, scored a takedown in the second period and an escape in the third for a 3-2 upset of fifth-ranked Iowa State transfer Andrew Long — the runner-up at 125 pounds last year.

Ramos said he watched McDonough beat Long four times last season and learned how to approach the match.

“I’ve seen him wrestle numerous times,” Ramos said. “And I knew that if I picked up the pace, he wasn’t going to be able to keep up.”

Junior Montell Marion, made his surprise début at 141 pounds after being reinstated to the team earlier in the month. Penn State’s fifth-ranked Andrew Alton threw Marion to his back in the first period, nearly pinning him. Marion fought to avoid the pin but was stuck in an early 5-0 hole.

Head coach Tom Brands, though, knew Marion could mount a comeback.

“You’re always in it, especially when you have offense,” Brands said to Flowrestling.com following the meet. “And that’s why he was in it, because he has offense.”

Marion proved Brands right, ripping off three third-period takedowns to earn an 11-9 victory that had Iowa on its way to the upset.

The Hawkeyes got decisions from Aaron Janssen and Grant Gambrall, and a dual-clinching major decision from Luke Lofthouse on their way to a victory that made a statement to the wrestling world.

“For the fans, it’s a confidence booster that we’re doing the right things,” Ramos said. “But we already knew this about ourselves.”


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