Hawkeye Grapplers Dismantle Northern Iowa

It appeared on paper that Northern Iowa was going to test the Iowa wrestlers more than Iowa State did in the 34-7 Hawk win over ISU. The Panthers fared better, but not by much. Coach Jim Zalesky's team started off fast at heavyweight, 125, and 133 and went on to win 30-7. The Hawks won at eight of the ten weights, including an upset by Ryan Fulsaas over UNI's Sean Stender at 197. The team is now 5-0 in dual competition and will compete next in the Midlands Championships on December 28.

Momentum plays such a big role in sports, and heavyweight Steve Mocco and 125-pound Luke Eustice gave the team an avalanche of momentum with their performances. Mocco started the meet with a quick pin of Panther Mike Shedek. It was the first time this year that Iowa did not start a meet at 125, but Mocco seemed to adjust to leading off as he posted the fall in just 1 minute, 36 seconds. Steve is now 9-0.

Eustice wrestled into the third period, but he was in complete control against Chad Davis in the 16-1 technical fall. Luke is 5-0 and is performing at a very high level each time he steps on the mat.

Cliff Moore has not been near as consistent as Mocco and Eustice so far, but he looked great against a solid opponent in UNI's Mark Manchio at 133. He showed great energy and several flurries of fluid moves that wore out Manchio. By the end of the match, Manchio had mentally and physically been deflated and Moore won 22-9. Cliff is now 6-3.

Luke Moffitt has had some inconsistent performances recently, and Friday was no different. Although he had not wrestled well, he was only down 6-5 to Dylan Long early in the second period before Long took over. Not only did Long beat Moffitt on his feet, but he also beat him at his own game on the mat in the 15-6 win. Last season Luke started out fast, struggled in midseason and lost his starting spot, and then rebounded to win a Big Ten title. This year seems to be playing in a very similar fashion so far. He is now 8-3.

Ty Eustice only won 3-1 over Jeff Harrison at 149, but there are some things that the score does not show. Ty was in good position most of the night and had some good shots and opportunities to score, but was not able to finish. He and the coaches have to be a little frustrated right now with some of the missed opportunities, but he should improve dramatically as he gains more mat experience. Eustice is now 8-3 with the win.

Matt Anderson and Tyler Nixt both did just enough to win their matches. Anderson beat Chris Betitto at 157, 6-1, while Nixt survived with a 6-5 outcome against Eric Hauan at 174. Nixt had to come from behind to win in the third period, but Hauan and Long are probably the two toughest wrestlers on the UNI team. Anderson is 7-2 while Nixt is 8-1.

Jason D'Agata looked like he might break through for a dual win over a rated opponent, but he lost an 8-3 lead and then lost the match, 11-9. The 165-pounder is now 5-8. His record is representative of his positioning and how he leaves himself open at times. Jason hurt his knee and that may have been the main reason for the loss, but he needs to drastically improve if he wants to contribute as a starter.

Jessman Smith and Ryan Fulsaas both did some good things to finish off a nice team performance. Smith trailed after the first period in his match at 184, but rallied by using his strength and size advantages for a 7-3 win.

Fulsaas avenged one of his three losses this year at 197 to beat Sean Stender, 6-5. Ryan beat Stender last season, so even though Ryan was ranked 17th and Stender was ranked 6th, it was not a big upset. The biggest thing for Ryan is that he is learning how to win close matches and how to consistently win in big dual meets. Last season he usually found a way to lose close matches and did not know how deal with adversity, but he is wrestling much tougher this year.

All in all, this was another good performance by the Iowa squad. They not only dominated on the scoreboard, but Mocco, Eustice, and Moore all dominated their matches. Most importantly, Coach Zalesky has to like how mentally and physically tough most of his wrestlers have been. They are winning most of the close matches, and they have been in better condition than their opponents in every dual meet so far. Iowa Wrestling has traditionally prided itself on winning in the third period when conditioning matters most, and that trait was once again shown on Friday night.

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