Iowa visits Happy Valley this weekend bringing home a few PA wrestlers in its line-up to face-off with the best team in the country. This match wouldn’t even warrant a preview if Marinelli hadn’t healed up and the staff hadn’t pulled Lee from a Redshirt. I don’t remember Iowa ever pulling a shirt but I don’t follow them super closely. Iowa is young and has more holes than I can remember them having. Penn State should have 4 wrestlers on the most dominant list competing, Iowa will have one guy on the list competing: Kemerer. The most interesting thing about Iowa’s resurgence is that 3 of their top 4 guys are from PA & OH. Home state schools could have benefited from this trio staying local. These three are also Iowa’s most exciting wrestlers, they get after it and seem to have a distinctly different style than the homegrown guys. Can they lure more of their compadres to Iowa? Time will tell, but if you can’t beat ‘em, might as well go to the source.
125lbs: #3 1 Spencer Lee (UI) vs. #25 Carson Kuhn (PSU). While Lee is ranked #3, I think that he’s the odds on favorite to be the national champion. Go ahead, send your hate mail. If he can improve his cardio/attacks in the 2nd period it won’t be close. Kuhn looked good in his first match for PSU until his gas tanked ran dry. As mentioned before, Lee’s one flaw that I’ve seen this season is his scoring pace drops as the match progresses. Maybe he’s adjusting to seven minutes? The thing that separates Lee from Suriano and Cruz is top game. If Kuhn can escape this match without being teched or pinned I think that it’s a win for him. If he can mix in a couple of takedowns he could build from that. Having NaTo and Lee as your first matches back in a lineup is no easy task. I’ll take Lee by TF.
133lbs: Phillip Laux/Paul Glyn (UI) vs. Corey Keener (PSU). I see this as a toss up and if either of the Iowa wrestlers can rise to the occasion they might make the dual closer than some might think. It’s hard to judge ability based on losses but his match with tOSU gave a glimpse of improvement. If Keener pushes the pace with the sold out BJC crowd behind him I think that he can create separation. I’ll take Keener by a regular decision.
141lbs: Vince Turk (UI) vs. #10 Nick Lee (PSU). I think that Lee’s attack rate will rebound from his McKenna match and overwhelm Turk. It also gives opponents a bit of a game plan to wrestle Lee. Just like DeSanto at Drexel, if you can get a true freshman into a position that isn’t their strength you can redefine the match. Turk has flaws in his chest position & hands defense that will create lots of opportunity for Lee. Look for Lee to get close to a tech but settle for a major.
149lbs: #2 Brandon Sorensen (UI) vs. #1 Zain Retherford (PSU). I’m not sure that either guy has been wrestling to their potential recently. Sorenson’s always been tight but his bonus rate seems down from last year. I didn’t look it up. Retherford is dominating but seems different from neutral this season. I think that he’s incorporated his freestyle approach- less pounding on the head and neck. Also more guys are avoiding his right side counter slide-by than in past years. Zain is a master of staying in good position, best in the nation. Every youth wrestler should watch his matches. It’s hard to call this a rivalry since Retherford has won all 4 of their meetings. It is really difficult to always beat a really good wrestler. It’s also a challenge getting up for a guy that continually crushes your dreams. I’ll take Retherford coming from behind for the win. In order of likelihood: Zain regular decision, Zain fall, Zain major, Soernsen decision, Zain tech.
157lbs: #2 Michael Kemerer (UI) vs. Bo Pipher (PSU). Kemerer should get a chance to quiet the home crowd for a few minutes. Pipher isn’t at the same level and doesn’t have a win over someone ranked in the 75ish. Big question for Iowa is can Kemerer do something that no one else has done this season, pin Pipher? Pipher has quick hips and seems to recover from bad positions quickly. Kemerer will be the strongest guy outside of the PSU room that he has wrestled this year. Can Kemerer hold Pipher on his back from a takedown? Tech fall Kem-dog.
165lbs: #3 Alex Marinelli (UI) vs. #1 Vincenzo Joseph (PSU). To me this is the marquee match-up of the night. Joseph hasn’t lost a match since last years B1G finals and is on a roll. Marinelli has come back very well from a leg injury and has been tearing through the competition. Can “The Bull” use his heavy ties to slow down VJ from neutral? Joseph uses a loose upper body to combat most tie-ups. It’s hard to attack Marinelli straight ahead; very strong hips, just like Joesph. Marinelli’s attacks tend to be straight ahead power. VJ has great chest and hips D. Both guys wrestle with so much confidence that I think that first person to question themselves will mentally blink and loose. Both guys would like the other one to face IMar in the B1G semi finals. Ultimately I think that Joseph will be able to get one or two better angles to finish a couple of takedowns. Both guys are noticeably better from neutral and I think that Joseph will win the match there. But at end of the period a ride-out might make all the difference. How does OH and PA violence get mixed up in an Iowa dual? Bet ya Tom Ryan still thinks about ‘The Bull’ leaving the state.
174lbs: Gunther/Young (UI) vs. #1 Mark Hall (PSU). I don’t hold the exhibition loss at the All Star match against the returning national champ. Can Hall catch either guy from his short offense for a fall? Hall doesn’t have the grind them up style of some of his teammates. I think that Hall will want to put on a show in front of the big crowd and not having a close match might give him the freedom to look big a few times during the match.
184lbs: Mitch Bowman (IU) vs. #1 Bo Nickal (PSU). Nickal loves to go big and Bowman has a tendency to stand just a little tall when entering a tie up. That height and a slight push into Nickal could give the PSU faithful a feet to back big move. Bowman didn’t look good versus Myles Martin a couple of weeks ago and has lost all 6 matches against top 15 guys this season. I think that Nickal can attack high and low for relaxed takedowns but I think that he’s going to what to go big in front fo the crowd. Look for a chin control knees to back fall for Nickal.
197lbs: #22 Cash Wilke (IU) vs. #3 Cassar/#2 Rasheed (PSU). Not sure of the status of Rasheed and if I was I couldn’t say or my informants would cut me off.
285lbs: #3 Sam Stoll (UI) vs. #5 Nick Nevills #5. Another marquee match-up. Both guys only loss is to Coon. Stoll appears to have a slight advantage in power even though Nevills looks much bigger this season. Can Nevills channel the same energy and confidence that he approached the Snyder match with? Stoll appeared to just give into Coon at the end of their match.? Nevills wasn’t really in the match with Coon and gave up bonus points. So Stoll should be at a slight advantage. As Nevills has gotten bigger his attacks below the knee have either dissipated or become less effective. This kind of attack if he can channel it effectively could be kryptonite for Stoll. Stoll is able to get better hip angles from the pummel position. Slight edge Stoll.