- Heavyweight Sam Stoll got to play hero for his team this weekend, as Iowa trailed by five points entering the final bout of their dual meet against Big Ten for Illinois. Most wrestlers, fans, media, etc are familiar that Stoll is a renowned Greco-Roman wrestler so going upperbody with the big man is often ill-advised. Case and point, Stoll pinned Illinois’s Deuce Rachal to seal the Hawkeyes comeback. Sammy has still got it folks.
- The first three weight-classes for the Hawkeyes are going to be a mixed bag this season. Only one of the trio is currently ranked (Phil Laux at #16) in what has to be first in over a decade (probably longer than that truthfully). All three have had their moments this season, Justin Stickley scored a big pin against Rider, Laux downed NJCAA national champion Todd Small, and Vince Turk scored 50 points during the Iowa City Duals, but as evidence through these first five duals they have also had their struggles. With the Big Ten schedule just getting underway it won’t be getting any easier; all three are scheduled to face at least one ranked foe this weekend.
- The lone bright spot in the Cyclone’s Cliff Keen Las Vegas performance came at 141 pounds where Kanen Storr brought home an eighth place finish as Iowa State’s lone medalist. There were a couple other highlight moments in the tournament: Chase Straw pinned Justin Staudenmayer, Marcus Harrington reversed a loss to UNI’s Carter Isley, but Storr’s collective performance was the only outstanding moment on the weekend.
- Early season results convinced me that the Cyclones might have had something really special at 133 pounds in Ian Parker, and that may still be the case, but this weekend’s performance isn’t evidence to back that thought up. After losing by fall to Rider’s Anthony Cefolo, last weekend was an opportunity for Parker to bounce back in a good way. After recording a first round decision, Parker was bounced from this weekend’s tournament. I am not by any means suggesting that the case is closed. Parker’s losses came to #13 Josh Terao of American and Ben Thornton of Purdue, who seems like a back-end top 20 wrestler. We also aren’t forgetting that just a couple weeks ago Parker came out on top in his match with Austin DeSanto, a wrestler that significantly upped his stock this past weekend. We are just acknowledging there may be growing pains.
- A bit of statement of the obvious coming: The Panthers had a really good weekend in Las Vegas. After experiencing a loss in Ithaca, New York to Cornell and then winning a tight battle with North Dakota State, the Panther Train was a little slow out of the station, but it looks like they used their week off to build up some steam.
- Okay, enough with the train metaphors. UNI put in a fourth place finish as a team at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, finishing ahead of Nebraska, Virginia Tech, Central Michigan, and Cornell. You don’t need to have a degree in rocket science to know that beating the likes of those teams is a big deal, especially for a team with their eyes on a top ten team finish in March.
- One of the reasons for that high finish was a result of Josh Alber’s finals appearance at 141 pounds. I will be the first one to eat some crow on Alber’s finish this weekend. After back-to-back NCAA tournament berths at 133 pounds, I had my questions on how the junior would hold up moving to the new weight class, but so far so good. He has now lost twice, but those losses came to Cornell’s Yianni Diakomihalis, who showed this weekend he might be the real deal. Alber posted a win over All-American Tommy Thorn of Minnesota and then Nebraska’s Chad Red in the semifinals, which are huge resume wins.
- Speaking of a resume building weekend have yourself a tournament, Jay Schwarm. All the sophomore did was bring home a fifth place finish at CKLV, earning a revenge win over Cornell’s Michael Russo and he also took out All-American Ryan Millhof in the quarterfinals. We saw flashes of Schwarm’s potential last season, but we are certainly enjoying the show he has been putting on since taking over the starting role full time this year.
- Finally, a welcome back is in order for sophomore Jacob Holschlag, who managed a fourth place finish at 197 pounds this weekend. What we learned about a lot of these Panthers this weekend is that they are t-o-u-g-h in the top position, with Schwarm and Holschlag prime examples of their turning ability. With Holschlag now back in action the Panther lineup will really benefit from the boost he is able to provide.