Iowa wrestling falls for first time to Wolfpack

Iowas+Edwin+Cooper+Jr.+moves+toward+North+Carolina+States+Tommy+Gantt+at+157+pounds+during+the+NWCA+National+Duels+Championship+Series+on+Monday%2C+Feb.+22.+2016+in+Carver-Hawkeye.++Gantt+defeated+Cooper+Jr.%2C+13-5+in+a+major+decision.+%28The+Daily+Iowan%2FBrooklynn+Kascel%29

Iowa’s Edwin Cooper Jr. moves toward North Carolina State’s Tommy Gantt at 157 pounds during the NWCA National Duels Championship Series on Monday, Feb. 22. 2016 in Carver-Hawkeye. Gantt defeated Cooper Jr., 13-5 in a major decision. (The Daily Iowan/Brooklynn Kascel)

JORDAN HANSEN, [email protected]

 

A trickle of fans were already heading to the Carver-Hawkleye exits before Iowa heavyweight Sam Stoll dropped to the mat in pain during the Hawkeye wrestling team’s 21-17 loss to North Carolina State, its first of the season.

Stoll, who twisted his knee earlier in match while being taken down, trailed 11-1 to No. 1 Nick Gwiazdowski. That was enough for the announced the crowd of 6,056. While he got up from his earlier injury to face the Wolfpack wrestler once before, Stoll couldn’t do it again.

He medically forfeited the match and that trickle of fans heading out of the building turned into a flood as North Carolina State completed the upset.

“The things these fans and this program look forward to is a battle, and that’s where this guy is the most disappointed,” Iowa head coach Tom Brands said. “If you want to give those guys the paper matches, then let’s just play chess online — he can stay in North Carolina, and I can stay in Iowa City, and we can play chess.”

While the jury is out on who would win between Brands and North Carolina State head coach Pat Popolizio, the message was clear — matches aren’t decided hypothetically, they have to actually be wrestled.

And on Monday night, the Wolfpack were able to claw their way to several big wins and pull a timely upset.

NC State got bonus points in three matches, which ended up being the difference in the dual. Iowa 141-pounder Brody Grothus was first to give them up, losing 18-3 via technical fall to No. 3 Kevin Jack.

Jack got three takedowns in the first period and didn’t look back, embarrassing the senior during his final match in Carver.

The Hawkeyes also gave up bonus points at 157-pounds as Edwin Cooper Jr. gave up a major decision to No. 4 Tommy Gantt, the last match before intermission.

“I think the biggest thing is that were able to come out here, and compete, and show that we belong,” Popolizio said. “The way things played out tonight was a statement in itself.”

Gantt’s win closed the gap to just a 2-point Hawkeye lead — the closest margin in any of Iowa’s duals this season.

Things continued to go south for Iowa after the intermission. Patrick Rhoads came out strong against the Wolfpack’s No. 6 Max Rohskopf, limiting the damage to just a decision.

At 184 pounds, No. 16 Pete Renda upset No. 10 Sammy Brooks to put the team in a bad place. While the Hawkeyes reclaimed the lead minutes later as No. 4 Nathan Burak (197) got a 9-4 decision over No. 11 Michael Boykin, it put Stoll in a must-win situation against an opponent riding an 81-match winning streak.

The enormous upset didn’t happen — North Carolina State totaled four wins in the final six matches. Iowa’s earlier major decisions from Thomas Gilman (125) and Brandon Sorensen (149) weren’t quite enough to tip the scales in Iowa’s favor.

“It looks like I needed a tech fall or fall the way things are looking right now,” Gilman mused at halftime.

His prediction turned out to be correct as the Hawkeyes had their undefeated season once again tarnished in the National Duals.

Now, the focus turns to the rest of the postseason — the Big Ten and NCAA Championships.

“We’re 12 days out, we have to be ready,” Brands said. “How close are we? We got a team with guys that like to score bonus points and getting knocked off here, I don’t think it’s a major issue — I think our guys are up to a challenge. They better be.”

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