Cody GoodwinDes Moines Register
IOWA CITY — The full A-Team has finally arrived.
The Iowa wrestling program's best, most complete lineup for the 2022-23 season made its debut on Friday night and promptly pummeled No. 5 Nebraska, 34-6, in front of another sold-out crowd at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The lineup that competed on this night is likely the one that gives the second-ranked Hawkeyes the best chance to run down top-ranked Penn State — both next week when they meet in State College, Pa., and at the Big Ten and NCAA Championships in March.
But on Friday, that lineup won eight of 10 matches to soundly defeat a dangerous, surging Husker team. The Hawkeyes didn't blink, registering three pins — from Spencer Lee (125), Max Murin (149), and Tony Cassioppi (285) — plus a major decision from Patrick Kennedy (165) and some hard-fought wins from Brody Teske (133), Real Woods (141), Abe Assad (184) and Jacob Warner (197).
"I feel good about tonight," Iowa coach Tom Brands said afterward, then added: "We have a lot of work to do … can't get too excited about January 20, because January 22 is upon us."
Iowa has now won 14 in a row over Nebraska, is now 11-0 overall this season, and 4-0 against Big Ten opponents. The Hawkeyes will face No. 13 Wisconsin on Sunday at 2 p.m. CT in another dual that will air live on Big Ten Network. The Huskers drop to 6-3 overall and 2-1 against league foes.
Here are the match-by-match highlights:
Spencer Lee pinned #3 Liam Cronin in 38 seconds
What more can you say about Spencer Lee?
Lee caught third-ranked Liam Cronin in a cradle for a 38-second pin to kick off the dual meet. It was a similar sequence to how he pinned Northwestern's Michael DeAugustino last Friday. Lee shot in, Cronin tried to leg-pass, and Lee sat, scooped Cronin's head, and settled in for the fall, giving Iowa a 6-0 lead.
"Guys, they roll, and you have to be ready for their roll," Lee said. "We work on those positions. Happened to fall into those cradles. Once you get a guy in a position to put them away, you have to put them away … I'm not a big cradle guy, but you fall into things when you wrestle hard."
Lee is now 9-0 this season with six falls, all in the first period. That was also the 32nd fall of his career, and the 10th that's come in under a minute.
Brody Teske returned to Iowa's starting lineup
Brody Teske returned to the starting lineup, for just his third match this season, and won 5-2 over Kyle Burwick at 133 pounds. After giving up an early takedown, Teske scored a reversal in the second period to lead 3-2, then tacked on his own takedown to erase riding time and ice a victory.
"It was really cool," Teske said afterward. "I walked through the fire and the flames were going, and I just thought, this is what I live for. That was awesome."
Would believe that Teske is likely Iowa's 133-pounder moving forward. He should at least get the nod again Sunday against Wisconsin, where he should see Taylor LaMont, an old Big 12 foe and past All-American. It would be a good test.
It was good to see Teske back in the lineup, but to also see him flash his gas tank, which has always been fierce. He looked just as energetic in the third period as he did when the match began. That's always been a strength of his, and will be a huge asset as he gets more reps.
"Improving," Teske said when assessing his performance. "We'll get better each and every day. Still moving forward."
Real Woods tops Brock Hardy in top-five matchup
The bout at 141 pounds, between #2 Real Woods and #5 Brock Hardy, was one of many worth tuning in for — and Woods earned a hard-fought 6-4 victory over Hardy.
Hardy is a gamer, and flashed his mettle with an early takedown on the edge, from a funky defensive roll. Woods responded with a reversal and two nearfall off a tilt for a 4-2 lead (he was originally awarded two nearfall and then four nearfall for an 8-2 lead, but a Nebraska challenge overturned the initial call). Scored another reversal in the second, then hand-fought through the third — but he did give up a takedown in the final moments.
Hardy's length made him difficult to turn. Woods has shown he can execute a mean cross-wrist tilt or bar-arm tilt on top, but Hardy used his legs to keep Woods from fully cinching up that hold. Savvy stuff. Hardy matched Woods' speed with solid defense in neutral, but Woods fought hard enough to score those reversals and, despite not getting to his turns like he normally does, he was mean enough on top to get the job done.
Another pin for Iowa's Max Murin
Max Murin continued his sensational sixth-year season with a second-period fall over Dayne Morton. Murin was head-and-shoulders the better wrestler here, and showed it by scoring three takedowns for a 7-1 lead. His last takedown was a head-snap that fed right into a cradle, which Murin locked up and ran over for the fall in 3:47. It was his fourth pin of the season.
Peyton Robb halts the Cobe Siebrecht momentum
The remainder of Cobe Siebrecht's season will be one big test after another. His first came Friday against top-ranked Peyton Robb …and Robb handily beat Siebrecht, 7-2.
Robb scored takedowns in the first and second period, plus a reversal, and added another point for riding-time. Give Siebrecht credit, he came out swinging early with a flurry of attacks, but Robb was a little too big and too strong. It's an experience Siebrecht can learn from moving forward.
Patrick Kennedy scores five takedowns for a major decision
Patrick Kennedy opened the dual's second half with a very nice 12-4 major decision over Bubba Wilson. Kennedy scored five takedowns, including three in the third period to secure bonus points. Smelled blood and chased it down. Another good match in what's becoming a very nice first season in the starting lineup. Kennedy is now 12-1 with nine bonus wins.
Mikey Labriola scores late to beat Nelson Brands
A lot of Nebraska wrestlers rolled on Friday night, mostly as defensive counters — Hardy and Wilson, plus more — and Mikey Labriola, the Husker's sixth-year senior, is perhaps most well-known for his funky wrestling style. He used some funk, not a ton, against Nelson Brands, and did convert a shot in the third period for a 3-2 win.
Brands manufactured a couple of late scoring opportunities, but Labriola is really hard to finish on if you aren't quick. He countered one of Brands' shots by leg-passing and forcing a stalemate. He surrendered a stall call to avoid another. It was a good effort from Brands, especially late. Just need to capitalize when in deep on shots.
Abe Assad rallies for a 6-5 win over Lenny Pinto
Lenny Pinto led 2-1 early on another crafty roll in the first period, but Abe Assad rallied with takedowns in the second and third. They were crisp attacks and, more importantly, clean finishes. His takedown in the third, Assad was patient, methodical and smart with his finish on the edge, picking Pinto all the way up and putting him down hard. Good to see him finish those opportunities after seeing matches where he struggled to do that.
"Tough takedown at the end there," Tom Brands said. "Good job. He sped it up a little bit. He likes to wrestle controlled a lot, so to see him have to go get one and get one, that's good stuff."
Jacob Warner muscles out a 3-2 win over Silas Allred
After missing last Friday's dual against Northwestern, Jacob Warner returned with a harder-than-it-should've-been 3-2 win over Silas Allred. Warner couldn't convert the few opportunities he created in the opening period — partly because Allred defended well, but he was also dinged for stalling — but used a mean second-period ride to lock up riding-time, which ended up being the difference after Allred scored in the third period.
Warner added a pair of escapes and used that riding-time point to win. Not the best performance, but it was at least good to see him back in the lineup.
Tony Cassioppi ends the dual with his 10th pin of the season
Tony Cassioppi closed the dual by scoring five takedowns for a 16-3 lead over Cale Davidson, which was the preamble for a third-period fall, his 10th of the season. Cassioppi even hit a cross-wrist tilt on the edge in the third period for four back points. Haven't seen a heavyweight do that in a while.
"That's what happens when you pick things up when they're slow," Brands said. "He didn't want to do it, but talked himself into it and good things happened. He's a good wrestler when he's wide open."
Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.
#2 Iowa 34, #5 Nebraska 6
- 125: #1 Spencer Lee (IA) pinned #3 Liam Cronin (NEB) in :38
- 133: Brody Teske (IA) dec. Kyle Burwick (NEB), 5-2
- 141: #2 Real Woods (IA) dec. #5 Brock Hardy (NEB), 6-4
- 149: #7 Max Murin (IA) pinned Dayne Morton (NEB) in 3:47
- 157: #1 Peyton Robb (NEB) dec. #21 Cobe Siebrecht (IA), 7-2
- 165: #10 Patrick Kennedy (IA) maj. dec. #30 Bubba Wilson (NEB), 12-4
- 174: #2 Mikey Labriola (NEB) dec. #16 Nelson Brands (IA), 3-2
- 184: #8 Abe Assad (IA) dec. #16 Lenny Pinto (NEB), 6-5
- 197: #8 Jacob Warner (IA) dec. #22 Silas Allred (NEB), 3-2
- 285: #3 Tony Cassioppi (IA) pinned Cale Davidson (NEB) in 6:39