IOWA CITY — Unable to sustain early momentum created by Thomas Gilman and Cory Clark, the third-ranked Iowa wrestling team was handed another reality check Friday.
Second-ranked Penn State won seven matches and ended a string of 24 consecutive Big Ten dual wins by the Hawkeyes, rolling to a 26-11 win to quiet a crowd of 14,311 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“Great crowd, great opponent, great head table, not so great wrestling,’’ Iowa coach Tom Brands said. “We need to wrestle better. We’ve got to get better and that starts with me.’’
The loss was the Hawkeyes' most lopsided in a dual since a 29-13 loss to Minnesota in 2007 and was Iowa’s second double-digit defeat in six days following a 24-11 loss at top-ranked Oklahoma State on Sunday.
The Nittany Lions earned the victory with a string of strong finishes, including wins In two matches that came down to two tiebreak periods – a 9-8 decision by top-ranked Zain Retherford over third-rated Brandon Sorensen in a rematch of last year’s 149-pound NCAA title match and an 8-7 win by Matt McCutcheon at 197 over Iowa’s Cash Wilcke.
“Gotta finish,’’ Brands said. “Got to finish.’’
Penn State started when Iowa’s Topher Carton was unable to finish at 141.
A 3-2 decision by top-ranked Gilman over third-rated freshman Nick Suriano at 125 and a technical fall by Cory Clark at 133 gave Iowa an early 8-0 edge before Penn State’s 12th-rated Jimmy Gulibon scored four takedowns in the third period to rally to an 8-6 win over Carton.
“That was a swing match and that third period, Jimmy was relentless,’’ Nittany Lions coach Cael Sanderson said.
Penn State never looked back, even after Iowa’s Alex Meyer used a takedown with 13 seconds remaining to give the Hawkeyes their only other win of the night, a 7-5 decision at 174 to pull Iowa within a 12-11 score.
Bo Nickal, ranked second nationally at 184, silenced the crowd with a pin of fifth-rated Sammy Brooks in 38 seconds. Nickal caught Brooks in a spladle following a shot by the Hawkeye senior.
“Most people would have bailed out after the shot, but that’s not Bo,’’ Sanderson said.
Sorensen, an 11-1 loser to Retherford in the 2016 NCAA final, hung with the Nittany Lions’ 13-0 junior but after giving up an escape to start the second tiebreaker, he opted for neutral in his half of the tiebreaker but was unable to take Retherford down.
At 157, top-ranked Jason Nolf used a pair of second-period takedowns against Iowa’s second-ranked Michael Kemerer on his way a 9-4 decision.
The Hawkeyes’ top-rated wrestler, Gilman, earned his closest win of the season at 125. He used an escape 12 seconds into the third period to edge third-ranked Penn State freshman Nick Suriano.
“All he wanted to do was dance,’’ Gilman said. “I chased him around a bit and I was able to get one good move in on him and I was able to score on it,’’
Improving to 18-0 with just his second win by decision this season, the Iowa senior handed Suriano his first loss in 12 matches this season.
Clark then rebounded from his first loss of the season, extending the Hawkeye lead to 8-0 by overwhelming George Carpenter 19-4 at 133.
Aggressive from the onset, Clark grabbed an 8-1 lead after one period on his way to earning the technical fall as he rebounded from a slow start and an 8-7 loss to Oklahoma State’s unbeaten Kaid Brock on Sunday.
“It’s like I have to relearn it every year, but I was able to wrestle my match,’’ Clark said. “If I feel good, if I get a good pace, I can do good things. I started kind of slow the other day, but I got into it right away today. It’s good moving forward.’’
Iowa announced before the start of the dual that eighth-ranked 285-pounder Sam Stoll will miss the remainder of the season because of a torn ACL suffered during a match in Sunday’s dual at Oklahoma State.
Steven Holloway got the start at 285 pounds for Iowa on Friday, replacing the sophomore who was off to a 7-2 start in a season which began at the Midlands Championships because of knee surgery that Stoll underwent last spring.
“It’s a tough break for him,’’ Clark said. “We’ve got guys who can go, who can step up and make the most of it. It’s a team sport but we go out there one by one. We all have to do our job.’’