Iowa wrestling shifts from late losses to bonus points

A big part of Iowa’s win over Lehigh came from dominance in scoring points.


Wyatt Dlouhy

Iowa’s Max Murin wrestles Iowa State’s Ian Parker during Iowa’s dual meet against Iowa State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Saturday, December 1, 2018.

Anna Kayser, Assistant Sports Editor

For the past two weeks, bonus points have played big roles in two very different Iowa wrestling wins.

On Dec. 1 against Iowa State, a pin by No. 4 Alex Marinelli and a major decision by No. 1 Spencer Lee ultimately led to Iowa’s 1-point win. Had Lee given up his major decision — as he almost did near the end of his match — Iowa could have lost the dual on criteria in the event of a tie.

RELATED: No. 4 Iowa takes down No. 16 Lehigh, 28-14

When Iowa took on No. 16 Lehigh on Dec. 8, bonus points told a different story.

Three of the first four Hawkeyes on the mat lost their matches against the Cyclones, only to bounce back hard this weekend. Lee started things off with 2 bonus points in a technical fall. No. 12 Austin DeSanto, No. 20 Max Murin, and No. 10 Pat Lugo all followed up with 1 bonus point each from their respective major decisions.

Iowa’s success came from wrestling hard and fast right out of the tunnel.

“I’m the first guy, so I feel like it’s my job to get the ball rolling, and score as many points as I can, and get the team fired up in a good way,” Lee said. “I feel like that was my job. When we start at other weights, then it’s another guy’s job.”

Marinelli tacked on 2 bonus points of his own in a technical fall, and with decisions by No. 8 Kaleb Young and No. 14 Cash Wilcke, Iowa cruised to a 28-14 dual win.

Lehigh recorded bonus points of its own in all three of its match wins. Jeremiah Moody, Steven Holloway, and Aaron Costello are all backups for holes in Iowa’s lineup, and they all faced ranked opponents from Lehigh.

The bonus points scored from all of Iowa’s ranked wrestlers showed an improvement from the week before, and now it’s time to go to work on raising the backups to that level of dominance.

“We have to keep getting better so guys like Costello and Moody, those guys that we’re relying on that are backups, can go with those top-tiered guys in the country,” head coach Tom Brands said. “The last month, we’ve had to rely heavily on backups, and it’s important that those backups continue to get better and embrace their role in that way.”

Following Iowa’s close win over Iowa State and the five matches it dropped in the dual, the entire team had a sharper focus on wrestling seven minutes.

Instead of losing matches in the last second to unranked opponents, wrestlers such as Murin and Lugo flipped the script and ran away with their matches against Lehigh.

A key part of their success has been the example different teammates display day in and day out.

“Since last week the coaches have been on me — quick starts and wrestle a full seven minutes,” Murin said. “I knew I could do it, I didn’t have to look very far. Guys on the team like Marinelli, DeSanto, they do it every match. They wrestle a full seven minutes, they wrestle hard with their pace, their pressure, and I knew I could do the same.”


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