IOWA CITY — Wrestling a top-four opponent for the third time in two weeks, Iowa’s third-ranked wrestling team was rewarded for its persistence Friday.
The Hawkeyes finished strong, winning six matches to claim a 21-13 dual victory over fourth-rated Ohio State in front of a crowd of 10,338 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Following losses by double-digit margins to top-ranked Oklahoma State and second-rated Penn State, the win halted just the second two-dual losing streak for Iowa in Tom Brands’ 11 seasons.
“We needed this,’’ 185-pounder Sammy Brooks said. “We’ve been through a tough couple of weeks as a team, but perseverance, sticking with the system and the plan, we knew that good things would happen.
“Who wouldn’t want to wrestle the top three teams in the country in a two-week span. You do that, you get to see what you’re made of.’’
Iowa won six matches against the previously unbeaten Buckeyes, including three of the five matches between rated opponents.
Third-ranked Brandon Sorensen, facing his third opponent ranked in the top five nationally at 149 in the last two weeks, used an escape and one point for riding time to edge Ohio State’s fifth-rated Micah Jordan.
At 184, a third-period escape and a takedown with 1:30 remaining allowed fifth-rated Brooks to rally past the Buckeyes’ 10th-rated Myles Martin 5-3 and at 125, Iowa’s Thomas Gilman dominated 18th-ranked Jose Rodriguez with a 23-8 technical fall in 6 minutes, 8 seconds.
“We had to come out and right the wrong,’’ Gilman said. “I came out needing to take control right from the start. We needed to do that as a team. Seven minutes wasn’t enough. I could have went against him like that all night.’’
Iowa (8-2, 4-1 Big Ten) also picked up a major decision from second-ranked Michael Kemerer at 157 and important decisions from Joey Gunther at 165 and Steven Holloway at 285.
Earning his first Big Ten win in place of injured Sam Stoll, Holloway scored a pair of takedowns in the third period to win a 6-1 decision.
“We knew we’d learn a lot in these three duals and I feel like we did,’’ Brands said. “We’re making some progress, but we’ve got to keep working. I liked the way we rode guys, liked the way we rode them and finished periods on top. I like to see that.’’
That was critical for Sorensen in handing Jordan his first loss in 22 matches this season for the Buckeyes (8-1, 4-1).
“He’s tough to score on and by keeping the pace the way I wanted, it was the best thing for me,’’ Sorensen said.
Ohio State won the other matches featuring rated opponents by one point. Luke Pletcher, rated 14th, used a takedown with :45 remaining to edge Iowa’s 15th-ranked Topher Carton 5-4 at 141, while a third-period takedown by top-ranked Bo Jordan was the difference in a 3-2 decision against the Hawkeyes’ 11th-rated Alex Meyer at 174.
Both teams were without one of their top wrestlers..
With third-ranked 133-pounder Cory Clark still working his way back from a shoulder injury, Brands decided Thursday to sit the senior rather than have him wrestle top-rated Nathan Tomasello, while Ohio State’s top-ranked Kyle Snyder at 285 is currently out of the country.
“Could Cory Clark have wrestled? Yes. Did he want to wrestle? Yes,’’ Brands said. “The call was mine.’’
Ohio State coach Tom Ryan called it a good coaching decision, comparing it to his decision to let Snyder participate in an event in Russia inseason.
“If Clark isn’t 100 percent, why push it now?’’ Ryan said.