Hawkeye wrestling eyes unbeaten streak vs. Rutgers

The Iowa wrestling team wants to continue the undefeated season at its first home dual of 2019.


David Harmantas

Iowa’s No. 4 ranked Alex Marinelli celebrates defeating Princeton’s Dale Tiongson in a 165-pound wrestling match at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday, Nov. 16, 2018.

Sarah Altemeier, Sports Reporter

After over a month without a home meet, the No. 4 Hawkeye wrestlers will host No. 20 Rutgers tonight. The Hawkeyes have never lost to the Scarlet Knights, so naturally, they are determined to continue that.

Coming off a dominant 24-10 win over Minnesota, Iowa found a lot out about the team.

Wyatt Dlouhy
Iowa’s Head Coach Tom Brands watches a duel during Iowa’s dual meet against Iowa State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Saturday, December 1, 2018. Iowa defeated the Cyclones 19-18.

“When we get ready to go and work hard for seven minutes, things go our way,” Iowa head coach Tom Brands said. “There were a couple situations [in the dual against Minnesota] where we could’ve had majors. We’re getting closer to that against good wrestlers. That’s important. We need to get those majors.”

While the Hawkeyes are riding a wave of success, there will be a handful of tough matchups. No. 8 Austin DeSanto will try for his second upset in two weeks when he faces No. 3 Nick Suriano.

Suriano is coming off a 3-2 loss to Oklahoma State’s Dalton Fix. DeSanto has been a dominant force for Iowa, with a record of 11-1. He was also recently crowned the 133-pound Midlands champion.

RELATED: DeSanto looks to be third Hawkeye to top Rutgers’ Suriano

Similar to DeSanto, No. 12 Pat Lugo defeated his top-20 opponent, Minnesota’s Tommy Thorn. He won 14-0 after the Hawkeyes already had enough points to win the dual, and he hopes to do the same against second-ranked Anthony Ashnault.

“I’ve been preparing myself mentally and physically,” Lugo said. “I want to make this match feel long for him. I want to make this seven-minute match feel like seven hours. I don’t want to give him space to breathe.”

Lugo didn’t quite start the season hot, falling 10-9 to unranked Russell Rohlfing of Cal State-Bakersfield.

“Lugo was maybe a little heavy in the offseason, and so it took him longer,” Brands said. “I think he looked in the mirror, his accountability factor was high early on, and there was a reason his performance wasn’t where it needed to be,  and it was directly related to that.”

Lugo has a record of 2-3 against ranked opponents, with two of the losses coming from narrow defeats to top-ranked Matthew Kolodzik of Princeton. Lugo placed fourth at the Midlands Championships, falling to Ohio State’s Sammy Sasso in the third-place match.

“[Lugo] gets better every time on the mat,” Brands said. “He’s more seasoned. He’s savvy, and that’s all of a result that he’s lean, mean, and hungry. The weight isn’t affecting him anymore like it might have on that Ohio trip, where we had those two duals.”

Lugo believes what he originally showed this season doesn’t exhibit nearly all that he has to offer.

“I think I’m a completely different wrestler,” he said. “I know what I’m doing now. I’ve got my routine down pat. I’m doing all the right things. Like Tom said, I’m a wrestler who wrestles myself into shape.”

Other ranked matchups will be at 157 — No. 5 Kaleb Young versus No. 14 John Van Brill — and at 184, where No. 13 Cash Wilcke wrestles No. 17 Nick Gravina.

The first match will begin at 8 p.m. at Carver-Hawkeye.

“It’s rock and roll time,” Brands said. “Hammer-down time.”