Aggressiveness propels Iowa wrestlers to 30-7 win


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Montell Marion sat on the mat with his head bowed as the noise vanished from Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Third-ranked Marion had held a 5-2 lead over Michigan’s No. 1 Kellen Russell with under 30 seconds left Sunday when Russell earned an escape. Leading 5-3, Marion initiated a scramble that ended in Russell scoring a takedown and sending the match to overtime.

The Wolverine 141-pounder won the extra period, silencing a crowd that had been celebrating a surefire signature win for Marion only a minute earlier.

Head coach Tom Brands defended Marion, saying his wrestler was simply abiding by a pillar of the Iowa wrestling philosophy: attack, regardless of score or time remaining.

“The important thing is that we’re doing offense when we’re ahead,” Brands said. “That’s what’s key. I don’t fault Montell.”

Marion’s match was an example of that philosophy backfiring.

But in Iowa’s 30-7 victory over Michigan, there were plenty of counterexamples.

Tony Ramos didn’t score a takedown for the first 6:30 of his match against Michigan’s Zac Stevens.

But in the third period, after becoming frustrated with the match’s slow pace and shoving Stevens into a row of cheerleaders, Ramos began scoring. With 27 seconds left, he scored a tie-breaking takedown and tilted Stevens for two near-fall points, giving him a 5-1 lead. That didn’t stop Ramos from diving for Stevens’ legs for a takedown with seven seconds left.

Brands credited Ramos for being “a bully” in the match’s third period.

A takedown with 39 seconds left gave redshirt freshman Derek St. John a 9-3 lead. Aaron Janssen pushed his lead to 11-4 with a takedown in the final five seconds.

Luke Lofthouse finished a shot to turn a 4-3 advantage into a 7-3 win with 18 ticks remaining on the clock.

“Lofthouse is ahead by a point at the end of the match, shoots to build his lead,” Brands said. “That’s how you win tough matches.”

In all of those matches, a victory was relatively secure, but a major decision just out of reach. But that didn’t stop the Hawkeyes’ aggression — even when it cost them a match.

“Coach tells us a high pace favors us, and I’m going to listen to coach and believe it,” sophomore Matt McDonough said. “That plays to my advantage, working hard from the first whistle to the last whistle.”

Lofthouse also pointed to a team-wide philosophy to explain his late attacks.

“That’s how I’m going to win matches,” he said. “That’s my philosophy, and that’s the coaches’ philosophy. In that third period, the takedowns come a little easier.”

He also praised Marion’s mentality, and said his teammate’s painful loss wouldn’t make anybody reconsider their attitude.

“Credit to Montell. He’s up 2 points, and he’s attacking, trying to score a takedown,” Lofthouse said. “You hate to see a match lost like that. But no, nothing’s changing. We’ll be attacking.”

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