Oct. 15, 2010
Challenges are an integral part of athletics. How they are met, fought and overcome is one of ways that a team measures success. The 2010-11 University of Iowa wrestling team will have to overcome several challenges in order to collect the school's 24th NCAA and 35th Big Ten team titles.
Reloading the team will be one of the first tasks for Head Coach Tom Brands and his staff. Iowa graduated 11 seniors from the 2009-10 squad, which was arguably one of the best Hawkeye teams in school history. That group, which consisted of Chad Beatty, Jay Borschel, Daniel Dennis, Dan Erekson, Michael Fahrer, Phillip Keddy, Dan LeClere, Rick Loera, Brent Metcalf, Ryan Morningstar and Joe Slaton, led Iowa to three straight NCAA and Big Ten titles, three straight Big Ten regular season titles and a 68-1 dual mark the past three seasons. Members of the senior class combined for three NCAA individual titles, five Big Ten individual titles and 15 All-America honors. They posted a combined career record of 697-231, started 532 duals and qualified for the NCAA Championships 21 times. To say that they are going to be difficult to replace is an understatement.
Defending NCAA champion Matt McDonough returns with the highest honors. The sophomore 125-pounder posted a 37-1 record during his first year with Iowa. McDonough went undefeated in dual competition (23-0) and scored 104 team points in dual competition. He won the 2009 Midlands title and his lone loss was to four-time All-American and three-time Big Ten champion Angel Escobedo of Indiana in the conference finals. McDonough is also listed at 133 pounds this season.
Also returning with considerable mat experience are seniors Matt Ballweg, Aaron Janssen, Jake Kerr, Luke Lofthouse, and juniors Jordan Johnson and Blake Rasing. The Hawkeyes are going to need their leadership as 25 members of Iowa's 40-man roster are underclassmen. Ballweg posted an 11-17 record at 157 in 2008-09, while Janssen and Kerr split time at 165 pounds last season. Janssen went 12-4, while Kerr tallied a 13-11 mark and placed fourth at the Big Ten Championships to earn his first bid to the NCAA Championships. Lofthouse wrestled at 174 as a true freshman during the 2004-05 season before leaving for a two-year Mormon mission in Africa. He wrestled the entire Big Ten dual season at 197 last year for injured starter Chad Beatty, posting a 7-7 dual mark and a 19-13 collegiate record. Johnson and Rasing split time at heavyweight last year before injured starter Dan Erekson returned to the lineup. Johnson posted a 7-2 dual mark, going 10-2 overall, while Rasing went 1-5 in duals, 9-9 overall.
Several talented, but untested Hawkeyes are also in the mix at various weights. Junior Tyler Clark was a two-time NCAA qualifier at 125 for Iowa State before transferring to Iowa and redshirting last season. Clark posted a 43-20 record for the Cyclones, placing second at the Big 12 Championships as a sophomore and fourth as a true freshman. Redshirt freshmen Tony Ramos (133) and Ethen Lofthouse (174) wrestled strong while competing unattached last season. Ramos went 12-0, while Lofthouse posted a 30-7 mark, with each winning titles at three open tournaments.
Iowa City West High School alums Dylan Carew (149), Grant Gambrall (174/184), Nick Moore (157/165), Nate Moore (133) and Derek St. John (157) are also ready to put their stamps on the Hawkeye record books. Gambrall went 15-5 at 184 during his redshirt freshman campaign, posting a 2-0 dual mark behind Keddy. Nate Moore, who is also entering his sophomore season, went 9-6 in collegiate matches and 3-2 in duals at 133 last season. St. John and Carew both redshirted the 2009-10 season, with St. John going 26-4 at 157 and Carew going 11-11 at 149 while competing unattached. St. John won two open tournament titles and was Iowa's highest placer at 157 at the Midlands Championships.
The addition of 12 newcomers will add to Iowa's depth in each weight class. Four-time state champion Nick Moore (Iowa City) and three-time state champion Jacob Ballweg (Waverly) are two of the four Iowa natives in the group, and both are younger siblings of current Hawkeyes. East Coast transplants Anthony Baldosaro (Berlin, NJ), Josh Dziewa (Yardley, PA), Mike Evans (Enola, PA) and Bobby Telford (Hockessin, DE) won a combined six state titles and have extensive national experience. Jeremy Fahler (Deerfield, IL), Matt Gurule (Grand Junction, CO), Charlie Joseph (Troy, MI), Walt Gillmor (Donahue, IA), Michael Kelly (Cedar Falls, IA) and Ethan Owens (Vansant, GA) round out the group of true freshmen. Gurule and Owens each won two high school state titles.
The Hawkeye practice room may look more like a family reunion this year than in the past as there are three sets of brothers and one uncle-nephew combination on the team. Matt, Mark and Jacob Ballweg; Stew and Walt Gillmor; and Nate and Nick Moore are the 37th, 38th and 39th sets of brothers to compete for the Hawkeyes. Luke and Ethen Lofthouse are the fourth uncle-nephew pair to wrestle at Iowa.
Iowa will open the season Nov. 19 with the Iowa City Duals and is set to host seven contests in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. After facing Iowa Central and Coe in the Iowa City Duals, the Hawkeyes will host intra-state rival Iowa State Dec. 3 and Big Ten foe Michigan State Dec. 5. Iowa will head to the West Gym to face former Hawkeye Doug Schwab and the Northern Iowa Panthers Dec. 9 before traveling to the 48th annual Midlands Championships in Evanston, IL, Dec. 29-30. After Midlands, Iowa will host Southern Illinois -Edwardsville (Jan. 7) and Big Ten opponents Ohio State (Jan. 22), Indiana (Feb. 6) and Michigan (Feb. 13). Iowa's road dual schedule consists of trips to Oklahoma State (Jan. 16), Northwestern (Jan. 28), Penn State (Jan. 30), Purdue (Feb. 11) and Minnesota (Feb. 20). The Hawkeyes will made a third trip back to Evanston, IL, for the Big Ten Championships at Welsh-Ryan Arena Mar. 5-6, before heading to Philadelphia, PA, for the NCAA Championships Mar. 17-19. The national tournament will be held at the Wachovia Center.
Here is a 2010-11 weight-by-weight breakdown:
McDonough returns after an outstanding debut campaign where he won his first NCAA title and posted a 37-1 record. Since McDonough is also listed as a possible starter at 133, Clark, Gurule, junior J.J. Krutsinger and Ramos could also go here. Clark recorded an 8-3 mark at 133 while competing unattached last season, placing second at three tournaments. He posted a 21-9 record in his two seasons at Iowa State. Krutsinger has a 19-9 career record in two seasons at 125, posting a 1-4 dual mark.
Gone is two-time All-American Daniel Dennis, who posted a 53-10 record at 133 the last two seasons. Nate Moore looks to be first in line to replace him, but sophomores Mark Ballweg and Joe Moore, and redshirt freshman Nick Trizzino could provide some competition. Krutsinger, McDonough and Ramos are listed at 125 and 133. True freshman Charlie Joseph will also provide depth in the practice room.
This weight class is wide open and six untested Hawkeyes are up for the challenge. Mark Ballweg and Trizzino could go here or 133, while junior Tyler Halverson has been in the Hawkeye program the longest. True freshmen Jacob Ballweg, Josh Dziewa and Ethan Owens will also have a chance to prove themselves. Jacob Ballweg posted a 179-6 prep career record and captured three state titles for Waverly-Shell Rock High School. Dziewa went 124-7 and won one state title for Council Rock High School, and Owens posted a 182-14 career record at Grundy High School, winning two state titles.
Brent Metcalf was a mainstay at 149 the last three seasons, and put together one of the more successful collegiate careers in Iowa wrestling history. Replacing the two-time NCAA and Big Ten champion and three-time All-American will not be an easy task, but four Hawkeyes will have a shot. Redshirt freshman Dylan Carew went 11-1 while competing unattached last season, winning titles at two open tournaments. Juniors Ethan Sebert and Stew Gillmor, and sophomore Jeret Chiri will also be in the mix.
Seniors Matt Ballweg, Aaron Janssen and Jake Kerr have occupied this weight class the past two seasons, and the Hawkeye coaching staff is looking for one to stand out and take over the spot. The toughest competition will come from redshirt freshman Derek St. John, who posted a 26-4 record last season while competing unattached. Senior Brooks Kopsa could compete here, while Chiri, Stew Gillmor and Sebert are also possibilities at 157. Freshmen Anthony Baldosaro, Michael Kelly and Nick Moore could also be contenders. Baldosaro won two state titles for Eastern High School, Kelly went 141-14 and collected two state titles at Cedar Falls High School and Moore was a four-time state champion with a 183-1 career record for Iowa City West High School.
Depending on how things shake out at 157, Kerr or Janssen could move up to replace two-time All-American and four-year starter Ryan Morningstar. Nick Moore and Kelly could also move up, while redshirt freshman Joe DuCharme and true freshman Walt Gillmor will compete here.
The job of replacing 2010 NCAA and Big Ten Champion Jay Borschel will likely fall to Ethen Lofthouse, but true freshmen Mike Evans and Jeremy Fahler will give Lofthouse a run for his money. Evans tallied a 165-8 record at Blair Academy, winning prep state and national titles as a senior. Fahler recorded a 116-11 mark at Deerfield High School. Sophomore Grant Gambrall could also compete here or move up to 184.
Gambrall looks to be the top candidate to replace three-time All-American and four-year starter Phillip Keddy. The Hawkeye sophomore went 15-5 last season, posting a 2-0 record in dual meets at 184. Junior Vinnie Wagner and redshirt freshman Tomas Lira will also compete for the starting spot.
Luke Lofthouse wrestled the entire Big Ten dual slate last year for injured starter Chad Beatty, going 7-7 and posting a 5-3 mark in Big Ten duals. Hawkeye fans saw improvement as the season went on as Lofthouse posted wins in five of his last seven bouts. Junior Brodie Ambrose is also listed at 197. He went 10-0 while competing unattached last season, winning titles at three open tournaments.
The three Hawkeyes looking to take over the starting spot at heavyweight, with the graduation of two-time All-American and Big Ten Champion Dan Erekson, are juniors Jordan Johnson and Blake Rasing, and true freshman Bobby Telford. Johnson wrestled Iowa's first seven duals of 2009-10 while Erekson was out with an injury, posting a 6-1 record. He made two more appearances at the Cliff Keen/NWCA National Duals in January, going 1-1. Rasing wrestled in the Iowa State and Northern Iowa duals, and represented the Hawkeyes at heavyweight at the 2009 Midlands. For the season, he posted a 9-9 collegiate record with a 1-5 mark in duals. Telford brings a prep career record of 118-37 and two state titles for St. Mark's High School to the Hawkeye wrestling room.