Clark, Ballweg, and Burak impress at wrestle-offs


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The Iowa wrestling team entered wrestle-offs last weekend with some fairly wide-open weight classes. With the first match of the season looming on Friday, the Hawkeyes gained some clarity in the Dan Gable Wrestling Complex.

Here’s a look at a few notable results from the weekend.

125 — Matt McDonough dec. Cory Clark, 3-2

McDonough, a two-time national champion, trailed true freshman Clark with five seconds left. A last-second reversal gave him the victory in Saturday’s final. This is an extremely impressive result from Clark, one of two highly touted 125-pound incoming recruits. He beat the other, Thomas Gilman, in overtime in the semifinals.

Gilman and Clark should push McDonough in the practice room harder than he has been yet in his career.

141 — Mark Ballweg dec. Josh Dziewa, 3-1

Ballweg laid first claim to the 141-pound spot that opened up after Montell Marion’s graduation. He scored a takedown with 30 seconds left to beat Dziewa in the finals. Ballweg impressed in the first few months of the 2011 season, before Marion returned from suspension. The junior is good enough from the top position that he’ll likely get the nod here.

149 — Brody Grothus dec. Patrick Rhoads, 8-2

Grothus is a redshirt freshman and was considered a dark-horse candidate for the 149-pound starting spot. He cruised through the wrestle-off field after incumbent starter Mike Kelly surprisingly lost to Rhoads in the semifinals. Brands praised Kelly on the team’s media day, though, so it’s not a given that Grothus’ victory here will get him the spot.

197 — Nathan Burak dec. Tomas Lira, 5-3

Burak will likely test head coach Tom Brands’ usual policy of not throwing wrestlers onto the mat in their first seasons. The Colorado Springs, Colo., native is not a typical true freshman, having spent the last year training with USA Wrestling in his hometown. He looks like a promising prospect to fill the 197-pound spot, which Iowa failed to qualify for NCAAs last season.

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