Point/counterpoint: Who should be ‘the guy’ at 141 pounds for Iowa?

BY DI STAFF | FEBRUARY 08, 2011 7:10 AM

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Matt Ballweg

In wrestling, size matters.

Of the three guys that are under consideration to wrestle at 149 pounds for the Hawkeyes, the biggest guy is Matt Ballweg. His bigger frame is the reason he should be “the guy” at 149.

The senior also has more experience at 149, as opposed to his brother, sophomore Mark Ballweg. Mark Ballweg lost his only match this year at that weight class, albeit to the fifth-ranked wrestler in the nation, Penn State’s Frank Molinaro. Matt Ballweg is 4-5 in his matches this year, but all five of those losses have come against nationally ranked competition. He has been able to perform well enough after the injury to Dylan Carew.

Montell Marion is the defending national runner-up at 141 pounds, and he is best suited for that weight class. Marion has a legitimate chance at a national championship at 141 pounds, and he is definitely the best option there. It wouldn’t be smart to move a guy who is ranked third in the nation in his current weight class to a different one.

Mark Ballweg has performed well, and head coach Tom Brands said after the Feb. 4 meet against Indiana that he needed to get both him and Marion into the lineup. However, the question would be if one of the smaller wrestlers could adjust to the larger weight class and do a better job than Matt Ballweg is doing. If Brands doesn’t think moving Mark Ballweg to 149 pounds will make the Hawkeyes significantly better, he should go with Matt.

And even so, to ask Mark Ballweg, who has wrestled at 141 pounds all season, to make the jump up to 149, would be a lot to ask of the sophomore. The Hawkeyes are probably best suited sticking with Matt Ballweg at 149 pounds.

— by Ryan Murphy

Montell Marion

Montell Marion is “the guy” at 141 for Iowa.

But he can be the guy at 149 for the Hawkeyes, a spot the squad needs some help.

Matt Ballweg is certainly a capable wrestler — he proved that in defeat to Indiana’s 14th-ranked Kurt Kinser, but Marion can be a difference-maker.

The junior was the national runner-up at 141 pounds last season, losing to Cornell’s Kyle Dake in the finals. Dake boosted up to 149 pounds this season and sits at No. 3 in the rankings with a 20-1 record and four pins.

If Dake can handle it, I believe Marion can as well.

The Hawkeye has the body type to add the eight pounds. Marion has a lengthy frame that could stand the extra weight, and he has the elite talent to handle heavier competition while his body packs on mass.

Iowa needs to find the best solution for having three guys — Marion and the two Ballwegs — to fill two spots. Head coach Tom Brands said after the Indiana match on Feb. 4 that he wasn’t sure how to handle it, and that means nobody can be sure.

But I believe the best two wrestlers are Marion and Mark Ballweg, and the latter has the smaller body, which may not be able to easily pack on or handle the weight required to jump a weight class.

Marion will be able to wrestle at an elite level one weight class up, while Mark can return to the 141-pound spot where he was once ranked in the top 15.

Marion can be the guy at 149 for Iowa; he just needs to get there.

— by J.T. Bugos

Mark Ballweg

In an Iowa lineup that’s become loaded as the season has gone on, 149 has been something of a problem. It’s the only weight in which Iowa hasn’t had a ranked wrestler all season.

There’s a good chance the solution to that problem is sophomore Mark Ballweg.

Before Montell Marion’s return from suspension, Ballweg had been a force at 141, racking up a 13-3 record and a top-15 ranking. Ballweg’s older brother, Matt Ballweg, had been manning the 149 spot fairly capably. Matt Ballweg has the size and defensive abilities to keep matches close but has only won twice in his seven starts this season.

Mark Ballweg got a tryout at 149 in Iowa’s victory over Penn State. He wrestled fifth-ranked Frank Molinaro and didn’t give up a bonus-point victory. He and head coach Tom Brands both said they felt the match could have been closer than the 10-3 decision had Ballweg taken advantage of a few more offensive opportunities — something that’s usually not a problem for him.

Mark Ballweg has more explosiveness on offense than his brother, and he has demonstrated a knack for pinning that his brother doesn’t have. He deserves a chance to prove he can win matches at that weight, rather than just keep them close.

Another option would be to move Marion, whose longer frame may support extra weight more easily, to 149 and let Ballweg keep his spot at 141. But Marion was the NCAA runner-up last season at 141, and he should be put in the best possible position to win a title this year. It isn’t likely Ballweg could reach that lofty status yet, even at 141.

That makes it a sibling rivalry for the 149 spot. And we’ve seen that Matt Ballweg is a solid wrestler but isn’t a real threat to make noise in the Big Ten or national tournaments. We’ve also seen that Mark Ballweg, at least at his natural weight, is a bonus-point machine.

He may lose some of that explosiveness wrestling bigger opponents, but his wrestling this season should earn him an extended chance at 149.

— by Sam Louwagie

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