Iowa/Iowa State has always been an intense rivalry. Two years ago, members of each coaching staff appeared ready to strap on the headgear and go at it themselves. This year, the stage was set for it again. Nearly 16,000 packed into Carver-Hawkeye Arena for the Iowa/Iowa State dual. We had the incredible last-second finish at 141 with Alex Tsirtsis, and then….nothing?
Where are the fireworks? Cael asked for a second opinion, the second referee confirmed the call, and it was over.
No press-conference sniping. No "body language" controversy. Just two teams going at it over the course of 10 matches, with another victory for the Hawks.
Is this better for the sport? The casual fan may have watched the Iowa/Iowa State dual meet, having heard tales of 2006's episode, and been disappointed. For the (as pretentious as it sounds…) "educated" Iowa Wrestling fan, the ISU dual had some really great moments.
Brent Metcalf's absolute dismantling of his opponent.
Ryan Morningstar's huge upset after two years waiting for 165 to be available.
The wonderful poetic justice of Alex Tsirtsis winning that match from the bottom position.
Hopefully, those who brought their co-workers, classmates, family members and significant others to their first wrestling meet helped to explain the storylines to pay attention to.
Charlie Falck dominated his match, but would it have been as exciting without the knowledge that Tyler Clark declared he'd be "ripping someone's head off" before the meet? I'd think not.
Ryan Morningstar scored a huge upset, his second over a highly-ranked ISU wrestler in Carver-Hawkeye. Will he be able to continue with the momentum? He nearly sniped the #2-ranked Moza Fay up in Cedar Falls on Thursday night. Fay and Morningstar had been wrestling together for nearly 20 years, know each other's moves inside and out. Can Morningstar turn close losses in wins, when it counts, in March?
Those stories turned the Iowa/Iowa State dual from being an apparently disappointing dual meet (Tom Brands himself said his team didn't provide the ‘show' he felt like the fans deserved) into another tome of anecdotes and bullet points, which swirl and combine to make March what it is. Storylines make any sport worth watching, and that's what I hope to follow with my entries here.
Iowa wrestling takes a bit of a break, giving the guys two full weeks to heal up, take their final exams, and get back into the room. They travel to Midlands on December 29th and 30th.
Will it be used as an extended wrestle-off at 133, to see who we'll see in black and gold for the rest of the year? Can Alex Tsirtsis better his third-place finish from last year, when he wrestled unattached? Will Iowa's big men, Chad Beatty and Dan Erekson, both nursing injuries, make it back in time for Evanston? Is Brent Metcalf bulletproof?
Only time will tell.