The Iowa wrestling team won the opening six matches of Thursday’s dual meet against No. 23 Lehigh, and cruised to a 26-9 victory over the Mountain Hawks, despite dropping three of the final four matches.
Senior Matt McDonough, ranked No. 1 at 125 pounds, moved to 7-0 on the season, pinning Alex Abreu in just over two minutes. The pinfall victory was McDonough’s fourth such win this season.
N0. 2 Tony Ramos and No. 11 Mark Ballweg recorded major decisions for Iowa to give the Hawkeyes a 14-0 leas through three matches. Michael Kelly then topped No. 19 at 149 pounds, 9-4. Kelly gave up a takedown 30 seconds into the match, but Kelly recovered to dominate the remainder of the match.
Kelly, who is battling to be Iowa’s top wrestler at 149 pounds, said his goal is to continue putting points on the board for the Hawkeyes.
“I just have to keep doing what I’m doing, and keep scoring, and keep scoring more,” Kelly said.
The marquee match of the afternoon was at 157 pounds, where Iowa’s No. 1 Derek St. John took on Lehigh’s Joey Napoli, ranked No. 4. St. John controlled the match from start to finish, recording a 6-0 victory for the Hawkeyes, moving his record to 7-0 as well.
St. John said he was pleased with the win, but was adamant that he had plenty of room for improvement.
“It was pretty good, for the most part, I just kinda shut him down,” St. John said. “I feel like I left some points out there, and it could have been a lot worse.”
Iowa head coach Tom Brands he was pleased with St. John’s victory, lauding his fortitude.
“When he was out there, the only thing going through my head was ‘tough’,” Brands said. “That guy is tough, and we need to keep it going.”
With a 23-0 lead, the Hawkeyes dropped three straight matches at 174, 184, and 197 pounds, before Bobby Telford ended the day with a 11-4 win.
Brands said he wasn’t pleased with the performances later in the meet.
“When you don’t work, you don’t hustle, and you don’t do things to put points on the board, it’s not going to happen,” Brands said. “When you wrestle guys like that, that aren’t going to fall over when you blow on them, you have got to do some damage, and we were managing damage instead of going out and doing damage.”
The No. 5 Hawkeyes compete next at The World’s Most Famous Arena, Madison Square Garden.
Despite the history and prestige of the Garden, Kelly said he would just as soon compete in Iowa City.
“For me, it’s just another match,” Kelly said. “I’d much rather compete at Carver than at Madison Square Garden.
Iowa will face Hofstra and Bucknell at MSG on December 16. St. John said the “Grapple at the Garden” gives the Hawkeyes a chance to face new competition.
“It’s a cool opportunity, especially to go out and face guys from the East coast, because we don’t go out there much,” St. John said.