Top-ranked Hawkeyes primed for top-15 showdown

The No. 1 Hawkeyes travel to the Garden State for a ranked battle with No. 12 Princeton on Sunday.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa’s 194-pound Jacob Warner wrestles Wisconsin’s Taylor Watkins during a wrestling match between No.1 Iowa and No. 6 Wisconsin at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019. Warner won by decision, 5-2, and the Hawkeyes defeated the Badgers, 32-3.

Austin Hanson, Sports Reporter

New Jersey is Iowa wrestling’s destination this weekend. Awaiting the No. 1 Hawkeyes in the Garden State are the Princeton Tigers.

The Tigers are the latest test on Iowa’s challenging schedule. They are ranked 12th in the nation, according to the National Wrestling Coaches Association’s poll. Princeton also boasts four nationally ranked individual wrestlers per InterMat.

No. 2 Patrick Brucki is Princeton’s highest-ranked wrestler. The 197-pound junior is 2-0 this season, highlighted by a win over then -No. 16 Jake Jakobsen of Lehigh.

Iowa’s 197-pounder, sophomore Jacob Warner, is ranked third in the country. Warner is 3-0, including a win over then-No. 23 Joel Shapiro of Iowa State. The team’s probable lineups suggest that a No. 2 vs. No. 3 matchup between Warner and Brucki will come to fruition on Sunday.

“[Brucki’s] a high, top-ranked guy, and we got to be ready to go,” head coach Tom Brands said. “Our guys, when they get ready for big matches, good things happen, and it’s no different with Jacob Warner. The thing with Jacob Warner right now: [he] seems to be wrestling down to his competition a little bit. I’m not concerned about it, but we need to be more plugged into the high-standard mission every time. Your opponent doesn’t matter.”

The dual will likely provide two other ranked matchups at 149 pounds and 157 pounds. Iowa’s Pat Lugo is No. 3 in the country at 149 pounds, and junior Kaleb Young is No. 4 at 157 pounds.

The pair is projected to see No. 14 Mike D’Angelo (149) and No. 9 Quincy Monday (157).

Last year, when the Hawkeyes and Tigers met, their lineups were very different. Of the probable ranked matchups, Young is the only Hawkeye getting a rematch. The junior defeated Monday, 7-4, and Iowa won the dual 31-10 in 2018.

Spencer Lee isn’t on the probable lineup for this weekend. Aaron Cashman will fill in for the All-American at 125-pounds and is pitted against No. 4 Patrick Glory in the team’s probable lineups.

“We’re going to Princeton with one 125-pounder, and that’s going to be Aaron Cashman,” Brands said. “[Glory] is a fourth-ranked guy, and he’s a worthy opponent. So, we’re looking forward to that. We’re looking forward to putting our name in the box with the best 125-pounders in the country, and two of those names will be from the University of Iowa, but you have to perform to get into that conversation.”

RELATED: Cashman prepares for first dual-meet start of season

Despite Iowa’s previous success against Princeton, Warner knows lineup and destination changes can greatly impact this year’s dual outcome.

“We’ll be in their home crowd,” Warner said. “We have to travel there Saturday. Maybe you’ll get jet lag or something like that, but that shouldn’t matter as long as you’re doing your job.

“Your weight cut is not going to be as normal; you’re not going to have your bed to sleep in and stuff like that. It’s just different stuff that you have to overcome. Overall, it’s just another match. We got to go out and compete and do our jobs.”

The Hawkeyes and Tigers will clash at Jadwin Gymnasium at 1 p.m. Dec. 8. The dual will be televised on ESPN+, NBC Sports Philadelphia, and NBC Sports Chicago.

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