Iowa men’s wrestling closes out 2022 with dual against Chattanooga

The No. 2 Hawkeyes take on the Mocs on Saturday at 6 p.m. at McKenzie Arena in Chattanooga, Tennessee.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa’s No. 19 174-pound Nelson Brands celebrates a win over Iowa State’s No. 23 174-pound Julien Brodersen during a wrestling meet between No. 2 Iowa and No. 7 Iowa State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022. Brands defeated Brodersen, 13-5. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cyclones, 18-15.

Kenna Roering, Sports Reporter

The No. 2 Iowa men’s wrestling team will take on the Chattanooga Mocs on Saturday at 6 p.m. at McKenzie Arena in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Saturday marks Iowa’s final dual of 2022 and it will be streamed on ESPN+ with Chris Goforth and Travis Garrard on the call.

Iowa is 6-0 on the season, coming off an 18-15 victory over No. 7 Iowa State in the annual Cy-Hawk series last Sunday.

“You have to be optimistic, but you also have to be realistic, and we have to get a lot better,” Iowa head coach Tom Brands said in a Zoom press conference on Wednesday.

Chattanooga is 2-5 with wins over Northern Illinois and Cleveland State.

The Hawkeyes are 4-0 overall against the Mocs, with their last victory coming in 2019 in Iowa City, 39-0.

Iowa’s probable lineup features eight ranked wrestlers while Chattanooga’s features four.

Iowa’s top-ranked 125-pounder Spencer Lee, who had surgery to repair both ACL’s in January, made his season debut against Iowa State and defeated senior Corey Cabanban, 16-5.

RELATED: Iowa men’s wrestler Spencer Lee dominates in season debut against Iowa State

Lee is not listed on the probable bout sheet for Saturday, however, and it is unclear how many more duals he will compete in ahead of the Big Ten and NCAA championships. Hawkeye junior Aidan Harris, a transfer from Iowa Central Community College, or sophomore Charles Matthews is predicted to fill in for Lee.

Iowa’s 133-pounder against Chattanooga will either be sophomores Cullan Schriever or Jesse Ybarra. Schriever is 7-2 while Ybarra has not competed in a dual this season. If Schriever gets the nod, he will wrestle 27th-ranked Brayden Palmer. Schriever faced Palmer at the Southern Scuffle in 2021 and lost, 4-2, in overtime in the third-place match.

The Hawkeyes’ second-ranked 141-pounder Real Woods made his debut in the Black and Gold against the Cyclones. The two-time Pac-12 champion transfer from Stanford defeated Iowa State’s 10th-ranked Casey Swiderski, 4-2.

RELATED: Stanford transfer Real Woods makes Hawkeye debut in Iowa men’s wrestling’s 18-15 win over Iowa State

Woods is listed with senior Drew Bennett, who is 3-2 on the season, at 141 pounds for Saturday’s dual.

Iowa sixth-ranked 149-pounder Max Murin suffered his first loss of the season against Cyclone No. 8 Paniro Johnson, 3-1, in sudden victory. Murin will get another shot at a ranked opponent on Saturday against Mocs 27th-ranked Noah Castillo.

Castillo was named the 2021-22 Southern Conference Freshman of the Year and is 1-0 on the 2022-23 season.

Murin and some other Hawkeye wrestlers have struggled with being aggressive and finishing off shots this season. Brands emphasized on Wednesday how the Hawkeyes need to give themselves more opportunities earlier and create faster finishes, which can be attained through repetition in the practice room and a change in mentality.

“… We have to get rid of that, ‘Once I’m in [on the leg] it’s easier’ mentality,” Brands said.  “Because once you’re in on the leg, that’s when the work starts. The closer you get to the finish, the harder the task becomes. You have to be so aware and so in tune, it’s almost like you’re predicting where the opponent is going.”

The most anticipated matchup of the dual comes at 174 pounds. Iowa 14th-ranked senior Nelson Brands, who is 2-0 on the season after suffering a broken collarbone in October, is slated against Chattanooga’s 16th-ranked Rocky Jordan on the probable bout sheet.

RELATED: Iowa men’s wrestler Nelson Brands earns gutsy win in season debut

Jordan is 5-1 for the Mocs and transferred from Ohio State ahead of the season. Nelson Brands defeated Jordan, 3-0, when he was a Buckeye at 184 pounds in 2020-21.

The final probable ranked matchup of Saturday’s dual comes at 184 pounds.

Iowa junior No. 8 Abe Assad suffered his first loss of the season last Sunday against Iowa State’s fifth-ranked Marcus Coleman and will battle Chattanooga 31st-ranked senior Matthew Waddell.

Waddell is a two-time NCAA qualifier at 184 pounds and 3-1 on the season.

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