Drake Ayala earns first official win as a Hawkeye wrestler

The 125-pounder had previously been competing unattached from the Iowa men’s wrestling team.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa’s 125-pound Drake Ayala throws down Purdue’s No. 5 Devin Schoder during a wrestling meet between No. 1 Iowa and No. 15 Purdue in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022. Iowa burned Ayala’s redshirt after Spencer Lee and the Hawkeyes announced his decision to have season-ending surgery. The Hawkeyes defeated the Boilermakers, 36-4.

Chris Werner, Sports Reporter

Iowa men’s wrestling fans may become quite familiar with Drake Ayala before the 2021-22 season ends.

The true freshman will help fill the Spencer Lee-sized hole in the Hawkeyes’ lineup for the rest of the year. Lee, Iowa’s starting 125-pounder, is out for the season with ACL injuries in his right and left knees.

At the beginning of the year, Ayala was expected to redshirt. Now, he’s 1-1 as the Hawkeyes’ top option at 125 pounds.

Ayala beat Purdue’s Devin Schroder, 6-1, Sunday. Schroder is ranked fifth in the nation at 125 pounds by Intermat.

The Hawkeyes ultimately downed the Boilermakers, 36-4.

Ayala lost his first match in the Black and Gold singlet Friday night. Minnesota’s Patrick McKee, who is ranked seventh in the country at 125 pounds by Intermat, defeated Ayala, 8-6, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

McKee and Ayala have met three times this year. Ayala wrestled his first two matches against McKee unattached from the Iowa men’s wrestling team.

Ayala is 0-3 against McKee. His largest margin of defeat versus McKee is four.

Ayala described his win over Schroder at Carver-Hawkeye Arena Sunday as a dream come true. Ayala earned two takedowns, a stalling point, and a riding time point against Schroder.

Ayala surrendered just one escape point in seven minutes of wrestling versus Schroder.

A one-minute and 19-second ride at the end of second period gave Ayala the momentum he needed to put Schroder away in the third frame.

“I mean, I just kept looking at my coaches and they just kept telling me to keep him down,” Ayala told reporters Sunday. “So, that’s what I did.”

In the third period, Ayala scored his second takedown of the match with 1:39 left on the clock. Schroder was called for stalling with 18 seconds remaining in the third stanza.

“I think he wrestled more like his trademark,” Brands said when he compared Ayala’s Friday and Sunday performances. “More physical — those types of things that are hard on an opponent. He’s a very astute competitor. So, it doesn’t take a lot to get him where he’s processing things the right way to make adjustments in a very short amount of time. And that’s a good quality to have.”

Ayala’s next two opportunities to wrestle will come on the road in Illinois. The Hawkeyes are slated to take on the Northwestern Wildcats at 7 p.m. at Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston Jan. 14. Iowa will then travel to Champaign to take on Illinois at 1 p.m. at State Farm Center Jan. 16.

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