Cyclone upset bid falls short in Iowa City

Darrin Cline

IOWA CITY — Bonus points.  In wrestling, they can be the difference between  victory and defeat, a close call or a blow out.  For the IowHJa State Cyclones, bonus points added insult to injury in Friday night’s loss to the Iowa Hawkeyes, 22-13.

Nearly 12,000 fans packed Carver-Hawkeye Arena, dressed in their darkest Hawkeye threads as part of the “Blackout”, to cheer on the rivalry.  

Iowa State’s Jerome Ward set out to silence the crowd in the first match of the evening at 197 pounds.  In a highly anticipated match featuring the 12th ranked wrestler, Ward, and the 13th ranked, Luke Lofthouse, the Cyclones drew first blood.  As the two battled into overtime, it was a takedown by Ward that opened the scoring for the visitors, 3-0.

For the remainder of the first half of the dual, it was all Hawkeyes.  Undefeated Hawkeye heavyweight Blake Rasing used his size and strength advantage to wear out Kyle Simonson, 2-0, before the meet turned to the lighweights.

Quite possibly the top wrestler in all of the NCAA, Iowa’s Matt McDonough manhandled Cyclone Patrick Hunter in a takedown clinic, 14-4.  Tony Ramos followed his teammate’s example pummeled freshman Brandon Jones, 14-5.

Thanks to the bonus points via two major decisions, Iowa had accumulated an 11-3 lead.  As the 11th ranked 141 pounder in the nation, Chris Drouin was the favorite in a dual with untested Hawkeye Mark Ballweg.  While Drouin was able to get in on Ballweg’s legs, the 4-0 Ballweg manipulated his own body and used his advantage as a scrambler to pull off a thrilling upset, 3-1.

The 141 pound match sent the fans to their feet, but a rally by the Cyclones following intermission quieted the black and gold faithful.  Nate Carr Jr. got the ball rolling for Iowa State.  His dominance of Jeret Chiri, 13-3, gave the team some much needed bonus points and trimmed the gap to 14-7.

Then came Derek St. John versus Trent Weatherman.  A match that brought attention from all over the state featuring two of the greatest Iowa high school stars in recent memory, turned out to be an exhibition for one.  St. John countered every Weatherman attack and rolled to a 12-3 win, another major decision.

Andrew Sorenson and Jon Reader swung the momentum back in favor of ISU.  Sorenson attained some well deserved revenge on Jake Kerr, followed by Reader’s demolition of Ethen Lofthouse in a match that saw Lofhouse on his back within 15 seconds of the opening bell.

Trailing only 18-13 heading into the last match, Iowa State put it’s hopes on Cole Shafer to steal the upset.  Shafer, who had been on a roller coaster ride this season, stepped onto the mat needing a pinfall or technical fall to seal a Cyclone victory.  Grant Gambrall had different ideas, as the eighth ranked 184 pounder trounced Shafer 12-3 and the Cyclone’s upset dream.

Before the meet, Iowa had not lost a match in varsity competition this season.  Iowa State was able to garner four wins, but only one major decision and thus only one bonus point.  Conversely, the Hawkeyes excelled, gaining bonus points in four of their six triumphs.

As the Cyclones try to move on from the heartbreaking defeat, coach Kevin Jackson and his team will have to build on the positives of the meet while correcting the errors that cost them in their first dual loss of the season.