Iowa men’s wrestling falls short in Happy Valley

The No. 2 Hawkeyes suffered their first loss of the season on Friday against top-ranked Penn State.


Grace Smith

Iowa State’s No. 3 165-pound David Carr grabs Iowa’s No. 15 165-pound Patrick Kennedy 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. Carr defeated Kennedy, 10-4. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cyclones, 18-15.

Kenna Roering, Sports Reporter

The No. 2 Iowa men’s wrestling team fell to top-ranked Penn State, 23-14, on Friday in State College, Pennsylvania. 

The Hawkeyes are now 12-1 on the season and 5-1 in the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions have now won 39 consecutive dual meets.

“We have to take our medicine in this loss,” Iowa head coach Tom Brands said in a release. “We took our medicine too much in some positions during that match and you can never take that medicine when that match is going and the clock is ticking. That happened too much, and we have to get better.”

Hawkeyes win 4 of 10 matches

Iowa’s top-ranked 125-pounder Spencer Lee faced Penn State’s Marco Vespa to kick off the dual meet. Vespa scored a quick takedown on the three-time national champion, but Lee responded with a reversal and took over the match en route to an 18-2 tech fall in 2:14. The victory marked Lee’s 49th consecutive dual meet win. 

The Hawkeyes’ second-ranked 141-pounder Real Woods earned his fourth consecutive victory over a ranked opponent with a 4-1 decision against the Nittany Lions’ fourth-ranked Beau Bartlett. The victory moved the two-time Pac-12 champion to 10-0 on the season, while Bartlett fell to 14-1. 

Iowa’s seventh-ranked Max Murin earned a 4-1 decision victory over Penn State’s 14th-ranked Shayne Van Ness in the 149-pound bout. Murin knotted it at one with an escape to start the third period. Despite having riding time locked up, Murin stayed aggressive and scored a takedown with about 35 seconds remaining in the match to secure the victory. 

The Hawkeyes’ last win of the dual came at 165 pounds when 13th-ranked Patrick Kennedy posted a 2-1 victory in the second tiebreaker period over the Nittany Lions’ fifth-ranked Alex Facundo. Kennedy is now 2-0 all-time against Facundo and 4-2 against ranked opponents this season.

Kennedy’s victory gave Iowa a 14-9 team advantage, but Penn State prevailed in the last four bouts to clinch the dual meet in front of 15,998 fans at the Bryce Jordan Center. 

Several close bouts

Four matches on Friday were decided by two points or fewer. Iowa’s 15th-ranked 157-pounder Cobe Siebrecht fell to Penn State’s No. 9 Levi Haines, 3-2. After trading escapes in the first and second periods, Haines scored a takedown in the third. While Siebrecht escaped, he couldn’t earn a takedown in the final seconds.  

Haines, a true freshman who came into the bout with five varsity wins, burned his redshirt with the victory against Siebrecht and will most likely be the Nittany Lions’ 157-pound starter for the remainder of the season. 

Iowa’s 16th-ranked Nelson Brands kept it close with Penn State’s top-ranked two-time national champion Carter Starocci in the 174-pound match. Starocci prevailed, 2-1, thanks to 1:12 of riding time. 

The Hawkeyes’ seventh-ranked Jacob Warner suffered his third-career loss against the Nittany Lions’ fourth-ranked Max Dean in the 197-pound bout. The match was tied, 1-1, heading into the third period. Warner started on bottom in the third and Dean rode him out the entire period to earn the match-clinching riding-time point. 

Iowa’s third-ranked Tony Cassioppi suffered his first dual-meet loss this season to Penn State’s top-ranked Greg Kirkvliet in the heavyweight bout, 4-1. Kirkvliet mustered a takedown in the first period and rode Cassioppi the entire second period to secure the dual meet win for the Nittany Lions. 

Kirkvliet defeated Cassioppi, 8-5, in an exhibition match at the National Wrestling Coaches Association All-Star Classic in November 2022, which did not count against their official NCAA records. 

Up next 

The Hawkeyes will be back in action on Feb. 3 against the Minnesota Golden Gophers at 8 p.m. in Minneapolis. Iowa beat Minnesota, 22-10, in last year’s dual meet.

The Gophers are 10-2 overall and 3-2 in conference with losses against then-No. 7 Northwestern and then-No.16 Nebraska on Jan. 7 and Jan. 13, respectively.

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