Although it is relatively early, there were a few rematches Friday that had already met at the Omaha Open. At 174, sophomore Tyler Nixt followed up his 5-2 win at Omaha over UNI's Eric Hauan by winning on Friday, 6-4. The win upped Tyler's record to 10-3.
The second rematch took place at 184 where Iowa junior Jessman Smith beat 9th ranked Kyle Hansen by an 8-2 score. Although UNI is solid throughout their lineup, Hansen is definitely one of the top Panther wrestlers. Smith further distanced himself from Hansen as he had previously beaten him 5-2 in Omaha. Smith is now 13-1 and is ranked #6 in the latest W.I.N. ratings.
The most anticipated match of the night for most Hawk fans was the chance to see freshman heavyweight Steve Mocco wrestle returning UNI all-American Paul Hynek in his first home dual meet. Mocco is ranked 4th in the country, and was ranked higher than Hynek coming into Friday after beating Hynek 9-2 in the finals in Omaha. Mocco did not disappoint on Friday, although Hynek may have disappointed Hawk fans and UNI coaches with his lack of offensive attempts as Mocco won 4-0. Going into the meet, UNI coach and former Iowa national champion wrestler Brad Penrith questioned whether Hynek was intimidated by Mocco. Hynek wrestled as if he was. He seemed to wrestle so as not to be blown out and he made few attempts in challenging Mocco. Steve took control early in the first period with a takedown, and then rolled up almost four minutes of riding time. Mocco is now 14-0.
The only rematch between wrestlers in which the outcome was different than in Omaha was between Iowa junior Luke Moffitt and UNI's Dylan Long at 141. Although Long is another of the top Panther wrestlers so far this season, Moffitt won a 5-2 decision in the finals in Omaha. However, on Friday it looked as if Moffitt was still hung over from his loss at the ISU meet as he was beaten, 13-4. Although the score was not close, Moffitt had several chances to get back into the match after falling behind 4-0, but he either couldn't finish moves or made bad technical mistakes. Luke is now 11-3 while Long avenged his only loss of the season to move his record to 11-1.
Senior Marc Juergens also fell behind 4-0, but his strength and stamina won out in the end as he pulled out an 11-10 barn burner over talented UNI freshman Mark Manchio at 133. Manchio seemed to be in control in the first half of the match, but Juergens tied the match 7-7 with three takedowns in the second period. Juergens added two more takedowns over Manchio to seal the victory. This match was by far the loudest match as the crowd was booing Manchio for stalling and faking injuries to catch his breath. Juergens is now 13-1 and continuing to improve. His future showdown against injured sophomore Cliff Moore in a wrestle-off could be very interesting when Moore is ready to wrestle.
125-pound sophomore Luke Eustice looked very good in the Carver-Hawkeye opener as he dispensed UNI's Dustin Brewer, 14-5. Luke has only wrestled five matches and is ranked anywhere from 9th to 16th in the three polls, but he should continue to improve and move up the rankings as he gets more match experience.
Senior Mike Zadick is still on a roll as the #1 ranked 149-pounder earned a major decision over Jon Garvin, 24-9. The match was the first of the meet and set the tone for Iowa as they went on to win 8 of the 10 matches. Mike is 8-0 on the season.
Junior Matt Anderson followed Zadick's win with another major decision as he beat Keith Pearl, 15-2. He is now 13-2 and ranked 13th nationally.
Backup Cory Connell wrestled for injured senior Ben Shirk at 165, but was pinned by UNI's Nate Lawrenz. Shirk is still being withheld to heal a hamstring injury.
Ryan Fulsaas was elated after he beat 9th ranked Sean Stender by an 11-5 decision. It was the first time in his career that the sophomore has beaten a rated wrestler. Ryan was physically much stronger than Stender, and was able to get out of bad situations with that advantage in strength. He is now 5-2. Much like the potential 133-pound wrestle-off between Juergens and a healthy Moore, Fulsaas and redshirt freshman Trey Clark also need to fight it out to see who will earn a permanent spot in the lineup at 197.
Besides winning eight of the ten matches, Iowa also had a 39-7 advantage in takedowns. Although the recent wins over the 10th ranked Panthers and 6th ranked Cyclones are not going to move Iowa past Oklahoma State, Minnesota, Oklahoma, or Michigan in the team rankings, they will definitely solidify Iowa's position at #5.
The Hawks will get a chance to improve their individual rankings against the other top programs on December 29-30 at the Midlands Championships in Evanston, Illinois. This should be the first chance this season for many of these Hawks to wrestle grapplers from Minnesota. The next dual meet is in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday, January 11th against traditional power Oklahoma State.