Too Close to Call?

When Iowa State and Iowa wrestle, you usually hear about it. Whether that's face to face with Hawkeye buds or somewhere on a message board, wrestling fans make a big deal about this meet. This year is surprisingly different. I've heard very little smack talk and very little talk at all. What does this mean? Well, it means the same as when it happens for football – the Hawks feel a loss coming!

I'm sticking with my prediction I made earlier:


125 Nick Franthorpe (ISU) dec. Charlie Falck (UI) 3-0
133 Mario Galanakis (UI) dec. Nick Gallick (ISU) 3-3
141 Alex Tsirtsis (UI) dec. Mitch Mueller (ISU) 3-6
149 Cyler Sanderson (ISU) dec. Alex Grunder (UI) 6-6
157 Trent Paulson (ISU) maj. dec. Ryan Morningstar (UI) 9-6
165 Travis Paulson (ISU) dec. Mark Perry (UI) 12-6
174 David Bertolino (ISU) dec. Eric Luedke (UI) 15-6
184 Jake Varner (ISU) pin Phil Keddy (UI) 21-6
197 Kurt Backes (ISU) dec. Dan Erekson (UI) 24-6
HWT Matt Fields (UI) dec Dave Zabriskie (ISU) 24-9


That prediction has a superbly prepared Cyclone team defeating and dismantling an overmatched and less talented Hawkeye team.  Gable me this, Gable me that!  I don't care who is coaching in Iowa City.  I know who is coaching in Ames and I know who he has wrestling for him.


However, if you look at wrestler history, rankings, etc., Iowa is actually favored in six of the 10 matches.  Nick Franthorpe, Nick Gallick, Mitch Mueller, Travis Paulson, David Bertolino, and Dave Zabriskie are all underdogs.  You could even go as far as saying Gallick, Mueller, Travis, Bertolino and Zabriskie are heavy underdogs.  The boldest prediction I've made is picking Travis to beat Mark Perry.  As a freshman, Perry finished second to Johny Hendricks of Oklahoma State.  Perry, a Stillwater, Okla., native, snubbed the Cowboys for the Hawkeyes after Hendricks's dad was cut from the OSU coaching staff by coaching legend John Smith.  As many wrestling fans know, Smith is Perry's uncle.


Now a junior, Perry has finished second and third at the national tournament.  Travis has never beaten Perry and was almost pinned by him in last year's dual.  With an entire year under the guidance of Cael, this entire team, including Travis, should be vastly improved.  Cael is the master of picking apart tape and finding the flaws in opponents wrestling.  In order to win his match, Travis will have to remain patient – missing an early shot could end the match early.


One aspect of wrestling that isn't talked about enough is the starting weight.  Where the meet starts is a random draw before the match.  With Iowa State's strength against Iowa in the middle and upper weights, the Cyclones would probably be better off starting at 149-pounds.  Early wins from Cyler Sanderson and Trent Paulson could pave the way for upsets from Travis and Bertolino.  If Kurt Backes and Jake Varner win by decision or earn bonus points, the Cyclones would be well on their way to a big victory.


Scoring team points early in a match is VERY important.  If either team jumps out to a nine or 12 point lead, wrestlers can very easily stall to avoid giving up bonus points and letting the opposing team back into the match.  Stalling is the worst element of wrestling.  Dual meets are won and lost because of stalling.  Wrestlers like Trent and Varner could and should earn bonus points in their matches.  However, because the Cyclones are heavily favored in those matches, Iowa wresters will most likely stall the entire match to avoid giving up bonus points.  Iowa State doesn't have any one in the lineup who couldn't pull out a win and the chances of the Cyclones stalling to avoid giving up bonus points are slim.



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