Evans, Hawkeye wrestlers ‘thump’ Iowa State


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One of the only moments of drama in Iowa’s 32-3 victory over Iowa State on Dec. 1 came before anybody had started wrestling.

The meet started off at 174 pounds. And in a surprise move, the Hawkeyes sent sophomore Mike Evans to the mat. Earlier this week, head coach Tom Brands had said the job belonged to senior Grant Gambrall.

“I found out right after weigh-ins,” Evans said. “I put my stuff on like I normally would, and then Tom said, ‘You’re going’ … You don’t really question Tom Brands.”

Brands wouldn’t say much about the decision, only that the competition at that weight was “50-50.”

Evans spent last season at 165 pounds, but the weight cut became too difficult for him. He was sharp on his feet at his new weight class, picking up four takedowns in a 10-1 major decision.

“I feel good [at 174],” he said. “I feel light. I feel like I can move. I feel like I can keep it up the entire match. I love it.”

Brands said Evans wrestled well but “left points off the board.” That criticism, the Hawkeye coach said, applied to almost the entire team. And while the Hawkeyes recorded 35 takedowns and only gave up 3, Brands pointed to Iowa’s failure to earn any near-fall points.

“The competition’s going to get tougher the deeper we get into the year, and we have to widen that gap more with a thump,” he said. “There were some good thumps. We would be intense, and the thumps would come and it would lead to points. But they would keep it close and never really would turn it up, sometimes.”

One of the matches the Cyclones kept close came at heavyweight, where No. 5 Bobby Telford needed a late reversal to beat Iowa State’s No. 15 Matt Gibson, 3-2.

But Tony Ramos, Matt McDonough, Mike Kelly, and Derek St. John all picked up major decisions for the Hawkeyes. It added up to Iowa’s biggest win over Iowa State since 1996.

“We got out-fought. We got outhustled,” Iowa State head coach Kevin Jackson said. “I’ve got some guys that I can live with their performance tonight, and I’ve got some guys where there’s going to be some hurt feelings soon.”

Hurt feelings are part of the sport, as Gambrall found out. And while the 174-pound starting spot isn’t sealed up, Evans said he would continue to battle against his senior teammate for it.

“I think every spot is subject to change,” he said. “I don’t think we’re ever giving these spots away … You’ve got to perform.”

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