Who: #4 Iowa 6-0 (2-0) vs #13 Rutgers 7-3 (1-1)
Where: Iowa City, Iowa | Carver-Hawkeye Arena
When: Friday, January 18th, 2019 8:00 PM
Watch: BTN+/Flowrestling (Online – Subscription required)

Austin DeSanto faces a big test this weekend in Nick Suriano; Photo: Nic Ryder | IAwrestle

Iowa will make their much anticipated 2019 team debut this weekend when they host #13 ranked Rutgers on Friday night. This will be first appearance in over a month for the Hawks in front of their home crowd, with their last dual being a 28-14 victory over another team from out east, Lehigh.

But while this weekend marks the home return of Iowa, the Hawkeyes have been anything but inactive over the last month. They ended December with a team championship Midlands performance and most recently took care of Minnesota 24-10 in a dual that featured five ranked matchups. Iowa took four of the five bouts.

On the other side of this dual is a Rutgers program that is most recently coming off a loss to Big 12 power Oklahoma State at home, 25-6. That result featured the Scarlett Knights dropping the marquee match at 133 pounds where their returning NCAA finalist Nick Suriano lost in overtime to Cowboy freshman Daton Fix, 3-2. It also saw All-American senior Anthony Ashnault down top five ranked Kaden Gfeller, 10-7 at 149 pounds.

As we look towards this Iowa-Rutgers matchup those same two Scarlett Knights will be on the hotseat this weekend as the 133 and 149-pound bouts look to be the headliners. Sophomore Austin DeSanto is coming off his 6-1 victory over All-American Ethan Lizak, which is arguably one of his best wins in his career. DeSanto could trump last weekend’s victory if he manages to upend Suriano, who is viewed as a title contender in March.

According to Tom Brands, Suriano vs DeSanto should be pay-per-view wrestling:

Following his 14-0 drubbing against #20 Tommy Thorn, junior Pat Lugo should face a much stiffer test in the #2 ranked Ashnault. A win this weekend will place Lugo back in the thick of the national title contenders, and have him well positioned for a great Big Ten seed.

The final ranked head-to-head meeting will occur at 157 pounds, where Iowa sophomore Kaleb Young will look to continue his strong start against the #13 ranked John Van Brill. It took some late match theatrics, but Young is coming off a big victory over a top ten ranked Steve Bleise.

Hawkeye junior Cash Wilcke could be in for a tough test this weekend at 184 pounds, but that all depends if the Rutgers’s staff decides to send out Nic Gravina. Ranked #16 in the country this would be another top 20 meeting, however Gravina has seen limited action this season only appearing in three matches. He made appearances in back-to-back duals for the Scarlett Knights first defeating Minnesota’s Brandon Krone and then later falling to Wisconsin’s Mason Reinhardt last weekend. As mentioned earlier, Rutgers faced Oklahoma State on Sunday, but Gravina was not in the lineup for that contest. Hawkeye Sports listed Gravina alongside Willie Scott as potential starters at 184 pounds this weekend.

Speaking of absences, last weekend Iowa listed Aaron Costello as the probable wrestler to take on Gable Stevenson, but instead we saw freshman 197-pound wrestler Connor Corbin bump up for the match. Costello is once again listed as the likely starter this weekend as he continues to fill in for All-American Sam Stoll.

We’ll end our preview talking Alex Marinelli, who is off to a fantastic start this season. While that may seem rather obvious given his #2 ranking, its the way Marinelli has competed that is opening eyes across the country. In seven dual appearances Marinelli has generated 16 bonus points. He’s won by bonus in every dual this season, and has had four of his matches end with a fall.

Dual Preview (TOM Rankings)
#4 Iowa vs #13 Rutgers
125 #2 Spencer Lee vs Shane Metzler
133 #8 Austin DeSanto vs #3 Nick Suriano
141 #15 Max Murin vs Pete Lipari
149 #11 Pat Lugo vs #2 Anthony Ashnault
157 #5 Kaleb Young vs #13 John Van Brill
165 #2 Alex Marinelli vs Stephan Glasgow
174 Mitch Bowman vs Joe Grello
184 #11 Cash Wilcke vs Willie Scott/#16 Nic Gravina
197 #7 Jacob Warner vs Matt Correnti
285 Aaron Costello vs Christian Colucci

By Ross Bartachek (@rossbchek)

Lead Editor of IA Wrestle