Iowa wrestling’s Stoll handles adversity

The Hawkeyes have been careful as they’ve worked Sam Stoll back into competition after a gunshot wound to his knee last summer.

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Iowa wrestling’s Stoll handles adversity

Iowa's #3 Sam Stoll wrestles Rutgers' Christian Colucci  during the Iowa/Rutgers wrestling meet at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday, January 18, 2019. Stoll defeated Colucci, 4-0. The Hawkeyes defeated the Scarlet Knights, 30-6.

Iowa's #3 Sam Stoll wrestles Rutgers' Christian Colucci during the Iowa/Rutgers wrestling meet at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday, January 18, 2019. Stoll defeated Colucci, 4-0. The Hawkeyes defeated the Scarlet Knights, 30-6.

Lily Smith

Iowa's #3 Sam Stoll wrestles Rutgers' Christian Colucci during the Iowa/Rutgers wrestling meet at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday, January 18, 2019. Stoll defeated Colucci, 4-0. The Hawkeyes defeated the Scarlet Knights, 30-6.

Lily Smith

Lily Smith

Iowa's #3 Sam Stoll wrestles Rutgers' Christian Colucci during the Iowa/Rutgers wrestling meet at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday, January 18, 2019. Stoll defeated Colucci, 4-0. The Hawkeyes defeated the Scarlet Knights, 30-6.

Sarah Altemeier, Sports Reporter

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After placing fifth at the 2018 NCAA Championships and earning All-American honors, Sam Stoll seemed to be on the right track to have a dominant final season as a Hawkeye wrestler. In his first three years, Stoll had a record of 54-14 and won a Midlands title.

But in June 2018, he suffered a gunshot wound to his left knee. After being charged with falsely reporting to law enforcement following the event, Stoll was suspended for Iowa’s season opener against Kent State and Cal State-Bakersfield on Nov. 9.

Because of the accident, Stoll, the coaches, and the medical personnel have been very cautious working the heavyweight back into competition after his injury.

In fact, fans didn’t get to see the 285-pounder wrestle until Dec. 1. Carver-Hawkeye got fired up when Stoll unexpectedly walked out of the tunnel during the close dual meet against Iowa State. Stoll defeated his opponent, 5-1, and helped the Hawkeyes to a 19-18 victory.

RELATED: Iowa wrestling’s DeSanto suspended for one match

This appearance wasn’t repeated the next week against Lehigh, and the Minnesota native medically forfeited at Midlands after winning two matches.

Wyatt Dlouhy
Iowa’s Sam Stoll informs Head Coach Tom Brands that he will be wrestling against Iowa State’s Gannon Gremmel during Iowa’s dual meet against Iowa State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Saturday, December 1, 2018. Stoll defeated Gremmel 5-1. Iowa defeated the Cyclones 19-18.

Still, Stoll has been present at every dual meet since Jan. 18, and head coach Tom Brands said he believes the Hawkeye is in a good place.

Recently, the All-American tallied a major decision over Rutgers’ Christian Colucci and pinned Illinois’ Deuce Rachal in the second period. Stoll went up 8-0 over No. 15 Conan Jennings before winning by medical forfeit when the Hawkeyes wrestled Northwestern on Jan. 27.

“His knee is getting healthier and I think we’ve done a good job of managing that with a fifth-year senior who has had a lot of trauma on that knee,” Brands said before Iowa’s dual meet against Nebraska. “He’s in a great place. We’ve got a great medical team, and we move forward with it every day.”

On Feb. 3, Stoll was defeated by No. 14 David Jensen, 3-0. Jensen tallied the 3 points on two stall calls and a riding point. With only one loss in Stoll’s seven matches, Brands isn’t too worried about the upset.

“It’s not like the guy dismantled us, and crumpled us up, and threw us in the garbage can,” Brands said. “We let that guy go where he was good, stay where he was good, slow the match down where he was good, and we didn’t use the things that we do well — physical hand fighting, pace of the match.”

If Stoll wrestles in Iowa’s dual against Maryland on Friday, he has a second shot at a ranked opponent in No. 9 Youssif Hemida. Stoll defeated Hemida twice last season. In both the Big Ten Tournament and NCAAs, Stoll won by decision, 7-2.

“The bottom line is we’ve got to get tougher, we’ve got to make hay, convert when we have opportunities,” Brands said. “[Stoll] knows that; he came back strong. He’s playing the hand that he was dealt, and he’s doing a good job. He’s got a mature response to his adversity.”