No. 13 Nebraska won the first match in its matchup with second-ranked Iowa on Sunday, but the Hawkeyes would get the last laugh. And it was a big one.
The Hawkeyes clinched the outright Big Ten Conference Dual Championship after winning eight of the 10 bouts against the Huskers and beating Nebraska, 31-7, in front of 9,514 fans at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The win ended Iowa’s conference dual season at a perfect 8-0 and the Hawkeyes are now 18-1 on the year with just one more dual left on the schedule.
“It’s good,” said Iowa head coach Tom Brands. “It’s getting late in the year, we’re getting closer to the postseason, and we did our jobs. We did some good work. We beat some good teams and we won some good individual matches. Now it’s important we take the next step.”
In three of the eight wins, Iowa managed to score bonus points with two pins and one technical fall. Nick Moore and No. 2 Tony Ramos both scored six teams points with their pins at 165 and 133, respectively, while top-ranked Matt McDonough bounced back from his first loss in 43 matches with a technical fall victory.
The Huskers opened the dual with an 8-0 win at 149 pounds as 11th ranked Jake Sueflohn dominated Iowa’s Brody Grothus.
The Nebraska momentum did not last long though as top-ranked and undefeated Derek St. John, Moore and Mike Evans earned three straight wins. Moore got the pin and St. John and Evans both recorded wins over top 10 ranked foes.
St. John trailed in the first period after surrendering a pair of takedowns against No. 6 James Green, but got things tied at 4 in the second. In the third, Green could not escape St. John from the bottom and the Hawkeye junior collecting riding time and a stalling point for a 6-4 win.
Moore’s fourth pin of the season a 6:41 set the tone for Evans, who is ranked No. 4 at 174. He took on his fourth straight top-10 opponent, this come coming away with a win over No. 2 Robert Kokesh.
Evans trailed Kokesh 3-0 in the second period, but Evans bounced back with an escape and two takedowns in the final 1:07 of the period. He led 5-4 heading into the third period and added another escape and a third takedown to win 9-6. Evans is now 15-0 all-time at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Nebraska cut into Iowa’s lead at 184 when No. 8 Josh Ihnen collected a 5-1 win over Grant Gambrall in Sudden Victory. That win made it 11-7 at intermission. Gambrall dropped to 0-4 this year against ranked opponents.
Fortunately for Iowa, Nebraska would not feel the taste of victory in the final five bouts.
No. 19 Nathan Burak scored a disputed takedown with 14 seconds left in Sudden Victory to win over Caleb Kolb and then No. 6 Bobby Telford made it 17-7 with a 6-2 win at 285.
McDonough clinched the dual with a 20-5 win a 125 pounds. He used seven takedowns and three near fall points to score his first technical fall of the season.
With the dual already decided, Ramos put an exclamation point on the Big Ten Conference championship with his third straight pin and ninth fall of the season. He is now 19-0 this year and 23-0 all-time at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“It takes a lot of energy to put a guy into that position,” Tom Brands said of the pins by Moore and Ramos. “It’s something we talk about. Get your 2-count, 5-count, and then get your fall. It’s explosive and it’s entertaining for the fans.”
The Hawkeyes got one more win before it was all said and done. They made it 31-7 after No. 8 Mark Ballweg dominated Ridge Kiley for the 6-1 win at 141 pounds.
The Hawkeyes return to the mat Saturday, Feb. 16, when No. 16 Edinboro visits Carver-Hawkeye Arena at 7 p.m. Iowa will honor seniors Mark Ballweg, Jeret Chiri, Grant Gambrall and Matt McDonough following the dual.
Iowa won its fifth Big Ten title in six years and went 8-0 in Big Ten duals for the fifth time in that span.
No. 2 IOWA 31, No. 13 Nebraska 7
149 – #11 Jake Sueflohn (N) major dec. Brody Grothus (IA), 8-0; 0-4
157 – #1 Derek St. John (IA) dec. #6 James Green (N), 6-4; 3-4
165 –#13 Nick Moore (IA) pinned Austin Wilson (N), 6:41; 9-4
174 – #4 Mike Evans (IA) dec. #2 Robert Kokesh (N), 9-6; 12-4
184 – #8 Josh Ihnen (N) dec. Grant Gambrall (IA), 5-1 SV; 11-7*
197 – #19 Nathan Burak (IA) dec. Caleb Kolb (N), 3-1 SV; 14-7
285 – #6 Bobby Telford (IA) dec. Spencer Johnson (N), 6-2; 17-7
125 – #1 Matt McDonough (IA) tech. fall Eric Coufal (N), 20-5; 22-7
133 – #2 Tony Ramos (IA) pinned Shawn Nagel (N), 2:05; 28-7
141 – #8 Mark Ballweg (IA) dec. Ridge Kiley (N), 6-1; 31-7