UNI ISU Preview

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 Iowa State 7-8 (2-5) vs #13 UNI 5-4 (2-2) 
Where: West Gym, Cedar Falls, Iowa
When: 7 PM, Saturday February 10th
Watch: FloWrestling ($)

IAwrestle has partnered up with Grapple Cy from Wide Right Natty Light to do a weight by weight breakdown of the upcoming Iowa State-Northern Iowa dual on Saturday. Grapple Cy does a great job of breaking down each and every ISU dual and is kind of funny while he does it. You can catch the second half of the preview on WRNL here. (also you should click on the link and vote for me! Don’t worry that if Zadick loses he said he would literally, LITERALLY set his beard on fire)

The dual is UNI’s first at home in just under two months; they missed the backend of December and the entire month of January. It seems like the season hasn’t even really started, and there are only two duals left. The Panthers are honoring Bill Smith at the dual this Saturday, UNI’s only Olympic Gold Medalist in any spot. They built a great display for his gold medal, which will be permanently on display in the West Gym for future generations to enjoy.

If you haven’t heard it yet, I would highly encourage you to take a listen to the UNI Panther Pep Talk, a podcast that UNI SID Michelle Van Dorn puts together, to hear Smith himself talk about his experience on wrestling for the Iowa State Teachers College (later renamed the University of Northern Iowa) and Doug Schwab’s thoughts on what it means to have that history residing his programs home arena. You can find the link to the podcast above, or you can click here for the Apple Podcast link.

Now on to the main event. UNI. Iowa State. It’s a rivalry now more than ever, with the Panthers beating the Cyclones last year at Hilton for the first time since 2003 and going 2-2 against them the last four seasons. Everybody knows that ISU has the all-time record pretty well locked up (57-18) but for the first time there’s a belief that the Panther program is, and can stay, ahead of Iowa State.

Of course in order to do that UNI has to actually, you know, wrestle Iowa State. Below are both GrappleCy’s and my homer predictions for the dual.

125 Sinjin Briggs vs #18 Jay Schwarm
GrappleCy: Briggs is a pretty unique story for Iowa State and while his 1-11 record isn’t exactly awe inspiring, the fact that he’s even taking the mat isn’t something even he would have dreamed of a few months ago. After one 125 pounder quit prior to the season and another left at semester Iowa State was left with just one wrestler on the roster at the weight – a walk on who had been recruited off of ISU’s club wrestling team. Briggs sent Dresser an email to inquire about joining and he met everything Dresser was looking for in a 125 pounder: He was eligible and he could make weight. Just a few weeks later Allison broke his hand and Briggs ended up in the starting lineup. Personally I don’t look at him as having a 1-11 record.  I view him as being 9-3 vs being pinned. I think he improves that record on Saturday against Schwarm with another +1 point outing.

Ryder: There can be nothing better for a skidding Jay Scharm than to wrestle a guy who is 1-11 on the season and going into a hostile environment. Jinjin Briggs wasn’t Iowa State’s first choice at 125 pounds this season, but he’s what they’ve got going forward. Schwarm has lost his last four matches in a row, but really only one could be considered an “unexpected” loss – his loss by pinfall to Connor Brown at South Dakota State. These two haven’t wrestled, and if Schwarm doesn’t win I think panicking wouldn’t be the worst thing, but I don’t expect that to happen. If this is where the dual starts, Schwarm gets things kicked off to a good start for the Panthers. If it’s not where things start then expect Schwarm to give UNI a boost.

GrappleCy: Briggs by major,  ISU 4, UNI 0
Ryder: Schwarm by fall, 1:05. UNI 6, ISU 0

133 Markus Simmons vs Jack Wagner
Ryder: Could this be the most interesting match of the night? These two have wrestled twice this season already, splitting the matches, with Wagner getting the win in November (7-5 in SV1) and Simmons getting the win in December (TF5, 18-2). 133 pounds has probably been the most disappointing for UNI this season, with Rudy Yates wrestling a limited amount, and Wagner just not getting a lot of wins. Simmons will, and should be, favored here, but I’ll give Wagner more of a chance since it’s at home and the crowd. And because of that, I’m going with Wagner

GrappleCy:This matchup is a good one to illustrate how inconsistent Simmons can be.  These guys have met twice this season.  The first time Wagner edged Simmons 7-5 in overtime.  The second time, just one month later, Simmons beat Wagner by tech fall 18-2.  So the question is which Simmons shows up on Saturday night?  The good one?  Or the bad one? I’d like to think it’ll be the good one but the fact that this will be the second straight day of making weight for Simmons plus this being held in West Gym has me worried.  Simmons is favored, but an upset by Wagner wouldn’t surprise me at all.

Ryder: Wagner by decision, 7.5-7. UNI 9 ISU 0
GrappleCy: Simmons by tech  ISU 9, UNI 0

141 #14 Ian Parker vs #9 Josh Alber
It’s worth noting here that Parker injured his knee a few weeks ago and it isn’t a sure thing that he’ll be wrestling on Saturday night. And due to roster issues Iowa State has nobody they can slot in to 141 without pulling the redshirt off of Austin Gomez.  So there’s a chance ISU will be forfeiting this weight.

Now, with that said, Parker had a largely successful redshirt campaign last season but was beaten twice by tech fall – once by Cam Sykora of NDSU and the other by Alber, who beat him 16-0 at the Grandview Open. So despite his recent success since moving up to 141 it is fair to say that he’s a substantial underdog in this match. I don’t expect a win here, but if Parker can keep it tight that’s a good sign that his win over Heil wasn’t a fluke.  And if he manages to get a win the “R12 or Bust” hype train will officially be leaving the station.
Ryder: Could THIS be the most interesting match of the night??? These wrestled at the Grand View Open last season at 133 pounds and that match went to Alber, 16-0. It’s kind of a weird situation in that both of these wrestlers last opponent was Oklahoma State’s Dean Heil, with Simmons coming away with a 3-1 win and Alber losing 4-1. This one *should* be a lot closer than their last two matches but Parker hasn’t exactly been a world beater this season either, so maybe it’s not. Either way, I’d take Alber in this one.

Oh by the way, Parker has a knee injury and Iowa State has no one else to slide into 141 pounds. Sooooo…

Ryder: Alber by forfeit. UNI 15, ISU 0
GrappleCy: Simmons by decision  ISU 12, UNI 0

149 #18 Jarrett Degen vs #11 Max Thomsen
Ryder: Ok, this really could be the most interesting match of the night. Thomsen, at least in my opinion, needs to get his offense going early and often in matches where the person he’s wrestling is ranked in the top 25. He’s on a six match winning streak but hasn’t really cracked that top-tier of 149 pounds this season. I probably sound like a broken record at this point, but giving himself more chances against the best gives him more opportunities to score and that can lead to more wins. The All-American from last year currently sits outside the top 8 in the rankings and should probably be a little bit higher, but hey, that’s why I don’t do rankings. Anyway, guess who I have in this one?

GrappleCy: Jarrett Degen has been a nice surprise for the Cyclones this year.  He’s put together a very respectable 17-5 record and is firmly on track to earn an NCAA allocation. But up to this point he hasn’t been tested against any All American caliber guys.  The highest ranked opponent he’s faced this season is #14 ranked Boo Lewallan of Oklahoma State, who beat him on the strength of a controversial (according to me, I dunno if anybody else thinks it was controversial) takedown in overtime two weeks ago.  Thomsen also went to overtime with Lewallan recently but was able to emerge with a 3-1 win. So this sets up to be an important match for finding out where Degen tops out at this year.  Is he going to be a guy who comfortably qualifies for NCAAs but bows out after a match or two?  Or is he going to be a guy who is able to go deep in to the weekend?  If he takes a loss on Saturday night it is probably option one. But if he can knock off Thomson then the Cyclones can start to think they might have an legitimate shot at having somebody still wrestling on Friday night in Cleveland.

Ryder: Thomsen by decision, 9-2. UNI 18, ISU 0
GrappleCy: Degen by decision,  ISU 15, UNI 0
At this point UNI loses a team point for not controlling the mat area – ISU 15, UNI -1

157 Chase Straw vs Logan Ryan
Ryder: I get it, you’re tired of hearing about “interesting” matchups. But this one is interesting! Both guys have 13 wins on the year, both…are…wrestlers at 157 pounds….both go to schools in Iowa! Look, neither of these guys are world-beaters, but they’ll both go into the dual looking to help their team win, and with Ryan seemingly having taken the spot for the rest of the season, it’ll be important to get momentum going into the dual with Missouri next week and then the Big 12 tournament. I like Ryan here a little bit more than Straw, especially since it’s at home, but like GrappleCy says, this is probably the purest form of tossup we’ll see Saturday.

GrappleCy: This match is about as pure of a tossup as you can get.  These guys have similar overall records (slightly better for Ryan), similar results against common opponents (slightly better for Straw), and even tip the scale at similar weights.  All I can really say about this one is that one of these guys will successfully win the match while the other fails to win the match.

Ryder: Ryan by decision, 4-3. UNI 21, ISU 0
GrappleCy: Straw by decision  ISU 18 – -1 UNI

Check out the rest of dual preview over at WRNL, here’s the link to upper weights.

I’ll just spoil my picks right now with my projected final: Panthers win 41-0 over the Cyclones. Book it.

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