The Big Ten dual titles have come naturally for the Iowa wrestling team.
It’s the tournament championships that have eluded the Hawkeyes.
Iowa clinched the outright Big Ten dual championship for the fifth time in six years with a 31-7 victory over Nebraska Sunday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in front of 9, 514 fans.
The Hawkeyes held an 11-7 lead at intermission, winning both matchups between ranked wrestlers. #1 Derek St. John came from behind to topple No. 6 James Green, 6-4, at 157 pounds, and at 174 pounds, No. 4 Mike Evans knocked off No. 2 Robert Kokesh, 9-6.
A pin late in the third period from 165-pounder No. 13 Nick Moore gave the Hawkeyes their only bonus points of the first half of the meet.
Nebraska claimed a major decision victory at 149 pounds from No. 10 Jake Sueflohn, and 184 pounder Josh Ihnen, ranked No. 7, defeated Iowa’s Grant Gambrall in overtime. A show of frustration after the match from Gambrall cost Iowa a point for unsportsmanlike conduct.
The Huskers chose to start the meet at 149 pounds in order to start with their best wrestlers, and delaying the meetings with Iowa’s feared duo of Matt McDonough and Tony Ramos until the second half of the meet.
The Hawkeyes won all five matches after intermission to pull away from the Cornhuskers, beginning with victories by No. 19 Nathan Burak and No. 6 Bobby Telford.
No. 1 McDonough, coming off a loss to Illinois’ Jesse Delgado, throughly dominated Nebraska’s Eric Coufal at 125 pounds, recording a 20-5 major decision victory.
Not to be outdone, No. 2 Ramos pinned Nebraska’s Shawn Nagel in 4:05 to move to 19-0 on the year. Ramos’s pin was his ninth of the year, including in each of the last three meets.
No. 7 Mark Ballweg finished the dual with a victory over Eagle Grove, Iowa native Ridge Kelly, winning 6-1. Ballweg’s win capped a 20-0 run in the second part of the meet.
The Hawkeyes finish their home slate with a dual meet against Edinboro on February 16, followed by the NWCA National Duals in Minneapolis the following weekend. Iowa looks to claim its first conference tournament title since 2010 March 9-1o in Champaign.
“You want guys focused on what is in front of them, and that is what we do well,” Iowa head coach Tom Brands said.
Despite claiming the Big Ten dual title, many Hawkeyes stated they weren’t even aware Sunday was the Big Ten finale. Ramos said it’s a good accomplishment, but not the main goal.
“It’s not something you make a deal about, but they don’t make the trophy for nothing,” Ramos said. “We don’t want anyone else to go home with it, so you are happy that is in your trophy case.”