The match set a record for wrestling attendance at the RAC with 6,754 on hand. It actually set a record for the RAC this year (sorry, Dave, the Michigan State game only drew 6,020).
But the result was not what most of those in attendance wanted. Winning six of the last seven bouts, the No. 7 Iowa Hawkeyes (6-0, 2-0 B1G) topped No. 16 Rutgers (3-2, 1-1 B1G), 23-15.
Rutgers came out of the gate hot, winning the first three bouts and taking a 12-0 lead. Nick Suriano easily won a 23-5 tech fall at 125. He was followed by Scott DelVecchio’s major and Michael Van Brill’s decision at 141. It was an opening that Rutgers needed.
“Momentum’s definitely important”, said Suriano, “and a Big Ten schedule right off the bat? You’ve got to go out and score points. That’s Big Ten wrestling.”
But the Hawkeyes met the challenge over the next four bouts, earning 14 points and taking the lead after the 174 bout. "It's a dual meet that got away from us," said head coach Scott Goodale. "I know that's how these guys feel. You want to win these and there are opportunities out there for us. You have to take advantage of these opportunities that don't come around too often. There are no moral victories. We let one get away and this one will sting a little bit."
Goodale made some moves to try to shift the advantage, moving Richie Lewis up from 157 to match up with Iowa’s No. 14 Alex Marinelli at 165. The strategy almost worked, with Lewis getting a third period escape to send the match into overtime. Marinelli, with his quickness, was aggressive and got the takedown in sudden victory for the 6-4 win.
“It doesn’t matter how good you are”, said Goodale, “if a guy keeps coming and keeps coming and keeps coming and you don’t have an answer? [Lewis] didn’t have an answer right there, so that was a big part of the match.”
And that was one of two matches that were turning points for the two teams. Goodale also held out R-Jr Jordan Pagano and instead wrestled R-Fr Joe Grello to face Joe Gunther at 174. And again, the move almost worked.
Grello had a 3-2 lead after two periods, but a controversial takedown by Gunther on the line gave him the 5-4 (with riding time) victory. Goodale had challenged a takedown in Lewis’ match (and was successful) but didn’t have one left after losing a challenge earlier in the 174 bout. The video board showed Gunther and Grello both on their feet and out of bounds before Gunther pulled Grello back in. The referee did look at the video but did not change the call.
In the past, there have been two officials on the mat in matches at the RAC. Whether only having one for this match was a conference decision is unknown. But a second official, even in a support role, can confer with the lead official and help on calls. There was also a possible locking hands against Gunther that was not seen by the official; the second referee is there just for that reason.
Goodale: “Two big matchups there in second part of the match, 165 and 174, just got away from us. We have to find a way to close those out. To beat a really good team you got to do that. You’ve got to close out those matches.”
At 184, Nick Gravina broke the string of four wins for the Hawkeyes with a 4-0 decision. And in a losing bout, 149-pounder Ekeazar DeLuca did his job keeping it close against No. 2 and three-time NCAA qualifier Brandon Sorenson, dropping a 3-1 decision.
Nick Suriano has not disappointed during his first month with the Rutgers wrestling team, as he has produced a perfect 9-0 record, including a 5-0 mark in duals, thus far. Suriano has outscored his opponents, 78-20, with two tech falls, a major decision and two decisions.
The Knights are off until after Christmas when they travel to Northwestern for the Midlands Championships. It will be an important test for a team that has now dropped two matches in a row. Said Goodale, “We’ll get back at them [Iowa] at “The Midlands” and there’s an opportunity to win a team title there and that’s what we’re shooting for.”
The Midlands is one of the most prestigious in-season tourneys and will feature around 30 teams, this year including host Northwestern, Iowa, Oklahoma, Nebraska, South Dakota State, Purdue, and Pitt.
Earlier in the week, there appeared to be some tension building between the two programs. Scott Goodale took exception to some comments made by Iowa coach Tom Brands and 165-pounder Alex Marinelli.
Tom Brands and Alex Marinelli discuss this weekend's trip to Rutgers and Maryland: pic.twitter.com/kwVVLKCzEd— Hawkeye Wrestling (@Hawks_Wrestling) December 6, 2017
Brands said that Rutgers had done some “nice” things but it asn’t like they had two NCAA champions. And Marinelli appeared to compare the RAC to the energy level in the gym at Blair Academy. Goodale was not pleased and countered with his own comments.
And if respect is the issue, Scott DelVecchio summed it up with this: “I don’t know if we earned more than we walked away with what we had. I think we would’ve earned a little more respect if we had won that match. I think they knew what they were walking into. We were expecting a crowd like this. If we had picked up those individual matches and won this dual meet, I think it would have been a lot different. You never go out there just to compete. I think tonight we kind of just competed. You go out there to win, and if we had won this one we would have gotten that respect. You don’t get respect from losing. You want to win that match and that’s where you gain that respect.”
Iowa leads Rutgers in the all-time series, 3-0. On Jan. 2, 2015, The Scarlet Knights and Hawkeyes wrestled in front of a then school-record crowd of 5,420 at the RAC, as No. 1 Iowa defeated Rutgers, 27-9. Current Scarlet Knights Anthony Ashnault and Scott DelVecchio both earned decisions in the dual.
No. 7 Iowa 23, No. 16 Rutgers 15
Officials: Mike McCormick
Attendance: 6,754 (RAC Wrestling Record)
125: No. 2/2/2 Nick Suriano (RU) tech fall over Justin Stickley (Iowa), 24-5; Rutgers leads 5-0
133: No. 13/12/11 Scott DelVecchio (RU) major decision over Paul Glynn (Iowa), 12-4; Rutgers leads, 9-0
141: Michael Van Brill (RU) decision over Carter Happel (Iowa), 3-2; Rutgers leads, 12-0
149: No. 2/2/2 Brandon Sorenson (Iowa) decision over No. 14/17/14 Eleazar DeLuca (RU), 4-1; Rutgers leads, 12-3
157: No. 3/3/3 Michael Kemerer (Iowa) tech fall over Brett Donner (RU), 25-8; Rutgers leads, 12-8
165: No. 13/13/NR Alex Marinelli (Iowa) decision over No. 9/7/9 Richie Lewis (RU), 6-4 (SV1); Rutgers leads, 12-11
174: No. NR/NR/10 Joey Gunther (Iowa) decision over Joseph Grello (RU), 5-4; Iowa leads, 14-12
184: No. 9/11/12 Nicholas Gravina (RU) decision over Mitch Bowman (Iowa), 4-0; Rutgers leads, 15-14
197: No. 8/8/11 Cash Wilke (Iowa) dec. over Kevin Mulligan (RU), 8-3; Iowa leads, 17-15
HWT: No. 6/7/6 Sam Stoll (Iowa) fall (2:41) over Razohnn Gross (RU); Iowa wins, 23-15
Rankings (-/-/-): InterMat / FloWrestling/The Open Mat NR denotes not ranked