Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Look at 2014 Iowa Wrestling

I love Iowa wrestling. In fact, there may not be another sports team that I care about as much as Iowa wrestling. I love Iowa football, and I can't get enough Iowa basketball, but I get ill watching Iowa wrestling. I go from a well-adjusted adult to a screaming psychopath as I watch meets. I once wrote an Iowa wrestling song to the tune of 2Pac's Hit 'Em Up. This is not healthy, but sports are stupid, and I love them. Anyway, I'm really excited about this Iowa team, so let's break it down one weight class at a time.

125 - Cory Clark
Clark has been fine this year. He's getting wins, but they aren't always as impressive as fans would like to see. That's pretty nitpicky this early on. But they have Penn State in a week and a half, and that is the meet that will be a great test for him. Megaludis is tough, but Clark had the talent to beat National Champion, Jesse Delgado, last year, and even though Delgado was not wrestling as well as he was by the end of the season, Clark showed he can wrestle with anybody. If he beats Megaludis, the sky is the limit for him.

Also, Thomas Gilman may be the best backup in the nation. I would definitely pick him as an All-American if Iowa could wrestle two guys at one weight.

133 - Tony Ramos
He's the best wrestler at Iowa. I know DSJ has a National Title and is ranked #1 at his weight, two things Ramos cannot say, but Ramos is, without a doubt, the best wrestler on Iowa's team. He got upset by AJ Schopp, but I don't see him losing again this season. Schopp wrestled a hell of a match and Ramos wasn't getting to his offense and when he did, he wasn't finishing. This has not been an issue for Ramos in the past, and I don't see it happening in the future. He's going to come hard, score points and dominate the competition. Now that he lost a match, he's going to be looking to put absolute beatings on his next opponents. I feel bad for them. I won't feel bad when he wins a National Title this year.

141 - Josh Dziewa
It's pronounced Jeva. You'll be able to impress your friends (not really, none of your friends give a shit about college wrestling) by knowing the correct pronunciation. He got pinned in his last match, but outside of the end result, there were a lot of positives about the match. He wasn't able to really threaten any offense in the first, but he also shut down the second ranked guy in the country. He rode hard, got in an awkward position, and he lost the scramble in the worst possible way. Other than that, he's been taking care of business, and he could definitely challenge for an All-American spot this year, just as long as he can avoid Stieber as long as possible.

149 - Mike Kelly
I love Mike Kelly, and I know that I am in a very small minority with my feelings. Looking at the Iowa roster, 149 is the weak spot. Brody Grothus got the nod in the last meet, and he got destroyed. Mike Kelly always seems to make people work, takes some really great shots too, but man, that guy cannot win a scramble to save his life. He gets in 50/50 positions and can never find a way to get the better of his opponent. It's maddening, but he has tools to be good. His scrambling is an issue, and although if he became Ben Askren in that area, he could be an All-American, I can't exactly predict that. Still, I do see a step up from this weight with him qualifying for Nationals and even scoring some points for the Hawkeyes.

157 - Derek St. John
Derek St. John is the total opposite of Mike Kelly. He wins every scramble ever. It's maddening, because he is always centimeters from losing a match, but he fights for everything and always manages to get the best of his opponents. He's ranked #1, so he's the favorite to take this weight class, but it's tough to always win like that. He is in close matches constantly, so even though he has the ability to win all of them, it's tough to feel very confident that he is going to do it again.

165 - Nick Moore
Moore is a guy who looks like he's taken a significant step forward this year. He controlled a tough opponent at Iowa State, and he actually looked good against Edinboro, although some fans were hoping to see a major decision. He consistently got deep in his shots, but there were a few instances where he wasn't able to finish it off. Still, he's showing good offense, and if he keeps wrestling hard, he could be a threat to anybody not named David Taylor.

174 - Mike Evans
Evans is maybe the most interesting wrestler on the Iowa roster. He started his career at 165, and his offense was stagnant, but he may have had the best rides of anybody at that weight. Then he moved up to 174, and he got explosive offense but really struggled on top. This year, he has plowed through everyone he has faced, but 174 is stacked. He's ranked #6, and although Andrew Howe is the favorite, everyone in that top six is super dangerous. He doesn't have a stache this year, but if he replaces it with a national title, I think all Iowa fans would be pretty cool with it.

184 - Ethen Lofthouse
It's the same story with Lofthouse. He can look great at times and pedestrian at other times. He's been able to turn it on for the national tournament, and if he can do it again, he could be in the finals. If Ed Ruth gets kicked off Penn State, he could even win the whole thing. But it's another slow start for him. Since he's proven himself, it's too early to get worried.

197 - Nathan Burak
He hasn't wrestled yet this year, but considering how much better he got as the season went on last year, I'm really excited to see what he can do this year. I don't think he's going to win a National Title, but if the reports are true, he should be able to compete with anybody this year.

Also, super excited for Sam Brooks, who has been wrestling up a weight in replacing Burak. He has looked very tough so far.

285 - Bobby Telford
He's hurt, but still ranked #3. He's working with the guy that made Tony Nelson an unbeatable monster, so maybe he can finally beat Nelson this year, but I have trouble believing it until I see it. Still, I don't think there's another heavyweight out there that he can't beat, so making the finals would not surprise me.

Overall, Iowa has a shot at 9 All-Americans (10, if you're willing to jump on that Mike Kelly bandwagon with me), and two guys who are probably going to be favored to be national champions. That's if everything goes right, and at the NCAA, it never does. There are going to be upsets. Penn State and Minnesota are stacked this year, so Iowa is going to need more upsets go their way than go against them, but I think this Iowa team does have a chance to finally break up Penn State's dominance, although it won't be easy.

Anyway, Iowa has a meet on Thursday night against Buffalo where they should dominate. After that, the season really begins. Next Saturday vs. Penn State in a meet that you should make time for if you have BTN and even a small interest in wrestling. It's going to be an awesome meet, and I am already way too excited for it. Seriously, watch wrestling; don't be a pencil-neck geek.

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