Hawkeye wrestlers cruise to Big Ten dual-meet title


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The Iowa wrestling team received an unexpected bit of good news Sunday. After beating Nebraska, 31-7, in Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Nick Moore said he and his teammates were surprised to be presented with the Big Ten dual-season championship trophy.

“I didn’t even know this was the last Big Ten dual of the year,” Moore said. “So it was funny to me when they said that Iowa was the Big Ten champions. Thanks for letting us know.”

“None of us [knew],” Mike Evans said. “Maybe [Matt] McDonough. But we seriously were surprised.”

The Hawkeyes won all eight dual meets against conference opponents this season. They won eight of 10 matches against the Huskers, controlling most of them from the top position. Five Iowa wrestlers picked up the one point that comes with over a minute of riding time. Those five combined to rack up almost 17 minutes’ worth. Nick Moore added another three minutes before pinning his opponent.

“Our guys were comfortable on top, and that’s where they were doing some good work,” Brands said. “Get your riding time, and then score. That’s what we talk about, and I think we were scoring with it pretty good.”

Top-ranked junior Derek St. John fell into a 4-1 hole in the first period, but tied the score at 4-4 going into the third. Nebraska’s No. 6 James Green chose to begin the third period from the bottom, hoping to earn a match-winning escape point.

But St. John flattened Green so thoroughly that the Cornhusker was penalized a point for stalling on the way to a 6-4 loss. St. John said after the match that he could feel Green run out of energy in the final period.

“In this sport, conditioning and endurance will take you a long way,” he said. “There’s always a point in matches where you can feel a guy start to fade, or where something’s changed with him. You’ve got to just keep scoring points from there.”

“You see St. John, he’s wearing on them and racking up that riding time,” Evans said. “The guy’s starting to hang his head. That’s a good thing.”

Moore spent much of the third period working from the top before turning Nebraska’s Austin Wilson for a pin. Evans, ranked fourth in the nation, picked up 1:57 of riding time in a convincing 9-6 win over No. 2 Robert Kokesh. Heavyweight Bobby Telford spent 3:36 on top in a workmanlike 6-2 win.

Senior Matt McDonough, bouncing back from an upset loss to Illinois’ Jesse Delgado on Feb. 8, racked up a full 4:55 of riding time in a 20-5 technical fall.

And while the Iowa wrestling program typically would rather be scoring takedowns and attacking, Brands said it’s nice to just keep an opponent on the mat sometimes.

“When it’s a blitz, like a lightning bolt, that’s what you want,” Brands said. “But sometimes you can control the match, too.”

Tony Ramos provided the blitz, taking Nebraska’s Shawn Nagel down five times before locking up a cradle and pinning him.

The Hawkeye junior admitted he did know a win would give Iowa the dual-meet title. But he didn’t give it any more importance than his teammates.

“We’ve still got to win the Big Ten tournament, got to win the national tournament,” Ramos said. “If those aren’t in our trophy case, we’re not happy. So, yeah, we’ve got the Big Ten team title or dual title or whatever they call it. But we’ve got to go forward.”

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