Iowa Wrestle-offs: Where it goes from here
By Andy Fuhrman
Without rehashing all the results some thoughts on where things are.
125: Probably the biggest surprise of the weekend was Cory Clark not only keeping it close with the defending national champ, but the fact Clark had taken the lead with less than 30 seconds left before Matt McDonough was able to reverse the action and get the win.
Nothing to worry about with McDonough, Iowa fans, in fact it’s simply something to look forward to in years to come with Clark and Gilman battling with McDonough day in and day out.
133: All Tony Ramos. An All-American against a true freshman and it was pretty obvious. Meant as no slight to Topher Carton, who was game, but Ramos is simply a different level at this point in time. Ramos looked as quick and smooth as ever. Scoring from his feet at will and looking to turn from the top. Hard to tell based on today if he has improved getting out from underneath, which is one thing to watch if Ramos is going to be on top of the podium.
141: Mark Ballweg and Josh Dziewa. Ballweg looks the part of 141. He will be a grinder there for the Hawkeyes. Controls ties, waits for his shot, goes hard when he sees it and finishes. Tough on top and during the wrestle-off, was able to get out from underneath. Dziewa is taller and a bit longer at the weight. Looks slicker and quicker than Ballweg but, today Dziewa was unabe to finish his shots. Hit a nice knee tap and a nice duck to single but both times was unable to finish either shot.
While I think Ballweg will own the spot, win more than he loses, and has a good chance to score points for Iowa at nationals I wonder what the upside is on Dwieza is. If he’s the man and gets going live, does he finish those shots? Is there a higher upside in terms of points scored in matches? We know what we’re getting with Ballweg. Dwieza would be a bit of a mystery.
149: We have an answer based on results. Brody Grothus. Is it the final answer? Mike Kelly was the front-runner based on last season as Coach Tom Brands commented on Wednesday. Patrick Rhoads is wrestling as light as he has since he was a sophomore in high school, and looks the part. Grothus is long, lanky and dangerous.
Kelly and Rhoads had a bit of a slobberknocker Friday night. A physical match and you can tell the guys go with each other in the room. They are familiar with each other and my guess is it gets heated between the two occasionally. Rhoads won that one and looked good doing so. I still wasn’t seeing the offense out of Kelly that others have told me is there yet. Now Kelly has his weight better under control and isn’t sucking down as much to get to 149. Maybe that is because of the match up with a guy he sees everyday. Regardless, until I see differently, I won’t be sold on Kelly’s offense at 149.
Grothus and Rhoads provided some excitement. Grothus has been referred to by many as funky, dangerous, and “still trying high school junk.” I can see all of that to an extent. His throws and big moves on Rhoads today came off of shots. There were low single attempts Grothus was unable to finish, but able to work up into double-overs and a body lock. He is good from there with natural ability and has a feel to throw and put people on their backs. Rhoads looks like he is a 157 and Grothus still looks like he could add weight. Grothus wasn’t able to keep Rhoads on his back either time he put him there. Grothus needs to be able to finish those shots and not count on getting big move points, those will come as well, and he may be able to man 149 this season.
With a lack of tournaments on the schedule this season, it will be interesting to see how 149 shakes out. You have to assume Grothus gets the nod to start the season, otherwise why have the wrestle-off? Will the coaches send all three guys to a tournament or two to see how things shake out? Will there be a rotation between them in duals to see who shines when the lights are on?
157: Derek St. John. To a point they didn’t have a matchup for him as Kelly and Rhoads headed to 149 and Nick Moore to a more natural 165. Barring injury, where I’d guess Kelly or Rhoads would bump up, St. John will hold this down with little to no problems.
165. Mike Evans was workmanlike in his match with Moore. More aggressive on his feet scoring a takedown, with mat wrestling that was never in question. Some questions have circled whether or not he has a “go to” takedown when he needs it. While not 100 percent answered just yet, he looked solid off his feet picking up a late takedown to make the final 5-0. How big is the cut he’s making to keep 165 and, if it’s big, will there be another fade at nationals? Based on Coach Brands’ comments Wednesday, I’d say they are aware of the issues and doing what is need to correct it.
174: Grant Gambrall down to 174. First thing you notice is Gambrall looks like a 174. You heard it randomly throughout the crowd as people took notice. He looked fresh and quicker than in years past. His sophomore year at 184, he was deceptively good on top and Klapprodt didn’t put himself under today. Holding the weight should not be a problem for Gambrall and, at this point, I don’t see a reason he is not an All-American come March.
Klapprodt impressed some today. Strong kid, scored a nice takedown on Gambrall in the second getting a single and powering him up and back down for two.
184: Ethen Lofthouse making college debut at 184. He got a test from Sam Brooks and the Hawkeyes have a good one there. Lofthouse didn’t looked undersized to me at 184 but that isn’t against some of the guys he is going to see at 184. Stienhaus and Bennett come to mind. The benefit will be he should not ever be sucked down and should have good legs for seven minutes. Maybe this will help with some of the moments like the Big Tens last year vs. Logan Storley. If so, Iowa fans may have to find a new whipping boy to be frustrated with. The concern maybe keeping the weight up when opponents are going to be coming down to that weight.
Brooks is going to be special. Showed a great low single both Friday night and Saturday morning. Barring injury, the redshirt stays on and after a season rolling with Gambrall, Lofthouse, Morningstar, Klappordt et. al I see a legit shot at a four-time All-American level wrestler.
197: Burak is systematic, quiet and if you met him in the library, I’d guess you wouldn’t take him for a wrestler. He keeps good position and has a natural mat awareness. Tall with a good frame to add weight, he is not an intimidating 197-pounder — yet. Seems to like to work a drag series and came up with a couple nice single legs off of it. Finishing said shots needs work. Credit to Tomas Lira for fighting off a takedown attempt with his right leg elevated shoulder high for a good 30 seconds. Burak needs to be able to finish that, think Luke Lofthouse’s junior year. Going to be some ups and downs at 197 this season as Nathan (don’t call me Nate, Fuhr) comes into his own and learns on the job.
HWT. It’s all Bobby Telford. No offense to his opponents today, they are simply not his level. Telford worked the summer with the football Strength & Conditioning coach Chris Doyle and the size has come around even more. Having Dan Erekson back in the room will be a great test for him daily as well as Byron Tate, who I understand is working with the Hawkeye Wrestling Club as well. As loaded as 285 pounds is nationally this season, Telford has a tough row to hoe to repeat his All-American finish of last season. The talent is there for him to do it but the top eight at 285 this year will have earned it as much as anyone in recent memory.
Depth here is nil. While not ideal, as long as no injuries occur, it won’t be an issue.
149 – Patrick Rhoads major dec. Jake Kadel, 15-6
125 – Matt McDonough tech. fall Matt Gurule, 19-3
125 – Cory Clark dec. Thomas Gilman, 3-1 SV
141 – Mark Ballweg tech. fall Connor Ryan, 18-2
141 – Josh Dziewa dec. Ethan Owens, 7-3
149 – Patrick Rhoads dec. Michael Kelly, 7-4
149 – Brody Grothus win by forfeit over Joe DuCharme
165 – Nick Moore dec. Walt Gillmor, 5-3
184 – Ethen Lofthouse major dec. Alex Meyer, 13-4
184 – Sammy Brooks dec. Jeremy Fahler, 8-3
285 – Bobby Telford pinned Josh Haug, 2:15
125 – Matt McDonough dec. Cory Clark, 3-2
133 – Tony Ramos major dec. Topher Carton, 18-7
141 – Mark Ballweg dec. Josh Dziewa, 3-1
149 – Brody Grothus dec. Patrick Rhoads, 8-2
165 – Mike Evans dec. Nick Moore, 5-0
174 – Grant Gambrall dec. Kris Klapprodt, 7-2
184 – Ethen Lofthouse dec. Sammy Brooks, 4-3
197 – Nathan Burak dec. Tomas Lira, 5-3
285 – Bobby Telford pinned Artie Bess, 1:12