Lugo steals the show on Senior Night

Senior Pat Lugo has wrestled well all season long and he starred in his final regular season appearance as a Hawkeye.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa’s 149-pound Pat Lugo grapples with Oklahoma State’s Boo Lewallen during a wrestling dual meet between No. 1 Iowa and No. 9 Oklahoma State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020. No. 2 Lugo defeated No. 6 Lewallen by fall in 2:22, and the Hawkeyes defeated the Cowboys, 34-6. (Shivansh Ahuja/The Daily Iowan)

Austin Hanson, Assistant Sports Editor

Iowa wrestling’s dual on Sunday belonged to its 11 seniors, and All-American Pat Lugo stole the show. The senior’s final act at Carver-Hawkeye Arena lasted just 2:22.

No. 2 Lugo pinned a worthy opponent in No. 6 Boo Lewallen. Lewallen was 18-1 coming into his match with Lugo. Lewallen had defeated six ranked opponents on the year, highlighted by a win over No. 5 Brock Mauller of Missouri.

“Lugo had a senior day pin,” reigning National Champion Spencer Lee said. “He showed me up.”

Winning his last match at Carver by fall proved to be a special moment for Lugo.

“[My last match at Carver] was very special,” Lugo said. “It was my first pin in Carver, actually. It was cool, a lot of fans were cheering. It would’ve been better if I would’ve done it in Stillwater in front of all [the Oklahoma State fans].”

Lugo’s pin helped cement Iowa’s 34-6 win over the Cowboys. After the dual ended, Iowa honored its seniors.

The Hawkeye coaching staff exchanged words with their wrestlers as they had their names announced and walked across the mat for the final time.

“[Associate head coach Terry Brands] was telling me that he loved me,” Lugo said. “I told him I loved him back. Then he said he was happy for me to be here and vice versa. The whole coaching staff, their love’s strong. When that bond and that love is strong, it’s easy for you to go out there and fight.”

The Hawkeyes secured an undefeated regular season for the first time since 2011-12 after Sunday’s victory. Despite a 13-0 regular season, the Hawkeyes are still hungry for more.

“[We made a] big statement,” Lugo said. “We’re going into Big Ten [Championships] and [NCAA National Championships] feeling confident.”

The pressure the postseason brings excites Lugo. The senior embraces the high stakes and aims to thrive under difficult circumstances.

“When I say, ‘Let it fly,’ I don’t really think any different,” Lugo said. “I’m just like, ‘Man, if I go out there and get taken down, who cares?’ Get an escape, get the next point. I love that pressure. Pressure makes diamonds, and I want to shine bright like a diamond.”

Lugo finished his regular season campaign 18-1, highlighted by nine wins over ranked foes. Six of the ranked opponents he vanquished were ranked inside the top 10 at 149-pounds.

“I’m confident in every aspect, whether it’s wrestling, school, whatever,” Lugo said. “I’m confident in my offense, confident on bottom, confident on top. Battling with guys in [Iowa’s wrestling room] helps my confidence.”

Head coach Tom Brands sees Lugo’s confidence on the mat and believes the senior can use it going forward.

“[Lugo has] strong ties,” Brands said. “He came out and asserted his ties [Sunday]. [He’s] got to do that the whole match. When he does that the whole match, good things happen for him. He’s got really good control ties, and when he forces them, and he’s solid, and he’s consistent in [asserting himself], he’s a bear. He’s a bearcat.”

Iowa will begin postseason wrestling at the Big Ten Championships on March 7 in Piscataway, New Jersey, at the Rutgers Athletic Center.

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