Beating Iowa State in football has traditionally meant little for the Hawkeye program besides passing a test against an also-ran instate rival. The Cyclone game is usually an emotional game because ISU puts such importance on the game, but an Iowa win in the yearly September clash does not usually provide insight into what kind of team or Big Ten season the Hawks will have. Dan McCarney's Cyclones have had winning records the last two seasons without having beaten any rated teams, but winning records for football in Ames is the exception, not the norm.
Iowa State Basketball is not a nationally known program, but it has been much better the last fifteen years. Although Iowa has a large all-time advantage in the series and has won the last two in a row, the Cyclones and Hawks have had some very even battles over the last two decades. The Cyclones have had four good seasons over the last six years, but an Iowa win over ISU still does not garner much attention nationally. Hilton Coliseum is one of the most underrated tough places for a road team to get a win at, so an Iowa win at Hilton should always be considered an achievement. If Iowa State would start consistently playing tough preseason games, and especially tough preseason road games outside of the state of Iowa, the yearly match up between the two schools would start to get the national attention that it probably deserves right now. Hawkeye fans in the past were critical of a few of Dr. Tom's preseason basketball schedules, and all of those were tougher than the average Cyclone schedule. After all the ISU success in recent years, it is time for Cyclone Football and Basketball fans to be critical of their teams' scheduling.
Scheduling and national respect have never been an issue for Iowa and Iowa State in wrestling. The Hawks have won 20 out of the last 27 NCAA national titles, and have scheduled anyone at any venue over that time. Iowa State was better than Iowa at times before the Iowa run of dominance started in the 1970s, and probably has the 3rd most traditional program in the country after the Hawks and Oklahoma State. Besides having won team national titles of their own, the Cyclones could make the case that the two best wrestlers in the history of college wrestling were athletes at their school – Dan Gable and Cael Sanderson.
Both schools are rated in the top five programs nationally almost every season. When Iowa started this latest streak of 28 series wins in 1987, the Hawks had owned the Cyclones over most of the previous 15 seasons. As good as Cyclone Wrestling has been, it is amazing that the Hawks have dominated the series over the last three decades. Many of the matches and meets have been hotly contested, but the Hawks have proven to be the better program. Although the Iowa win on Sunday is just another win in the streak, each win over ISU in wrestling still means something more than just a instate rivalry match up. It continues to be a showcase of the powers of college wrestling. With all of the upsets that take place every year in sports, this Iowa streak against the Cyclones is beyond belief! Dominating streaks like this are only supposed to take place when programs like Nebraska Football plays doormat programs like Baylor!
On paper, both teams came into the meet on Sunday with two matches that they thought they would win for sure. Iowa State had #1 ranked wrestlers at 165 and 197, and both came through just like ISU Coach Bobby Douglas expected them to. Sanderson recorded his 133rd straight win as he pinned Hawkeye sophomore Ryan Fulsaas at 197, while Joe Heskett pinned Iowa backup Cory Connell at 165. If Iowa senior Ben Shirk was healthy, he might have given Heskett a better match, but the returning all-American was beaten 17-1 by Heskett last season.
Iowa was expected to win at 149 and heavyweight. Although Billy Maldonado is a highly ranked wrestler, Mike Zadick is ranked #1 at 149 and has beaten Maldonado five times in a row after winning 10-4 in the final match of the meet on Sunday. It was the most decisive of the series between the two wrestlers, and it won the meet for Iowa as the Hawks were leading 18-16 going into the match. Coming off a long layoff after suffering a rib injury, it was a good win for Zadick.
As usual, freshman Steve Mocco showed flashes of why he was the top recruit in the country as he beat senior Mark Knauer, 9-5. Mocco is now 13-0, but he did miss some chances to further score and control the match. He is only a freshman in the sense that this is his first experience in a big college road dual, but he is not an average freshman in any way.
Unlike most Iowa-Iowa State meets in recent years, neither coach could predict most of the weight classes because there are so many new faces in each lineup. In addition, Hawkeye veterans Jessman Smith and Matt Anderson have wrestled against ISU in previous years, but Smith always used to wrestle Sanderson when Cael was at the 184-spot. Smith wrestled a tougher, lower scoring match than some anticipated, but pulled out a win to run his record to 12-1. He rode 11th ranked Austen Palmer for the entire second period, got an escape to start the third period, and finished his 4-1 victory with a takedown with forty seconds remaining.
Anderson had always wrestled at 165 in past years, but this season has dropped to wrestle at 157. Matt controlled Matt Veach for a 6-2 victory to get the Hawkeyes started in the first match of the meet. He is now 12-2 on the season.
Besides Mocco, Luke Eustice, Marc Juergens, Luke Moffitt, and Tyler Nixt were also in their first Iowa-ISU dual meet. The only wrestler that did not pass the test with flying colors was Moffitt, as the junior college national champion was beaten soundly by Cyclone junior Aaron Holker. The match went according to seeds as Moffitt was ranked 15th and Holker was ranked 8th nationally. Holker rode Moffitt for 5:41 and won 14-0. Although Luke is still 11-2, he needs to regroup after this loss.
Senior Marc Juergens is making it harder for injured 133-pound sophomore Cliff Moore to find a spot in the Iowa lineup as he beat 6th ranked Zach Roberson, 4-1. Juergens is now 12-1 for the season, and is starting to find the attitude and confidence of older brother Eric (a two-time NCAA champ at 133). Trailing 1-0 going into the third period, Juergens escaped to tie the match and immediately shot back in on Roberson, finishing the takedown with 1 minute, 19 seconds remaining in the match. He rode the Cyclone sophomore the rest of the match.
Because of injury problems, sophomore Luke Eustice had only wrestled three matches this season going into Sunday. As a first year starter at 125 with little experience, he was a big question mark going into the meet. However, he erased a lot of questions in his 8-3 victory over Ty Malia. Luke is now 3-1 this year.
Sophomore 174-pound Tyler Nixt was inconsistent in the dual meets on the East Coast, but got stronger as the match went on against Cyclone wrestler Nick Passolano, as he won 10-4. Tyler got four takedowns in the last two periods, and upped his season record to 9-3.
The Hawkeyes held a 17-13 advantage in takedowns, but 11 of Iowa State's takedowns came from its two top-ranked individuals - Heskett at 165 pounds and three-time NCAA champion Sanderson at 197 pounds. Iowa won 7 of the 10 matches, but had no team bonus points. ISU got team bonus points in all three of their wins.
Iowa's next dual meet is this Friday against Northern Iowa. Meet time is 7:00 pm in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Panthers are ranked 11th in two of the three mat polls. Iowa is ranked 5th in two polls and 6th in another.
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