IOWA CITY, Ia. — Tony Ramos nearly pinned the top-ranked wrestler in the country at 133 pounds, Derek St.John reaffirmed his status as the guy to beat at 157, and Nick Moore delivered the biggest win of his college career.
On a night when third-ranked Iowa claimed its most lopsided win over No.5 Oklahoma State in 19 years, all of those feel-good stories for the Hawkeyes became secondary narratives during a 24-6 rout in front of 10,141 inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The big news for Iowa: The Hawkeyes suddenly look like a handful again at 149 pounds.
Brody Grothus notched his third victory in 12 days against a top-five opponent, accumulating more than three minutes of riding time during a 9-5 win against No.5 Josh Kindig.
“I’m taking it personally,” said Grothus, who scored 18 seconds into the match and took control of the bout in the second period by reversing Kindig to his back for five points. “I don’t like watching my weight (fail to) perform up to the expectations of this university. In order to be the guy at this school, you need to be a contender — and not just a contender, you need to be the guy on top.”
Never mind being a contender, Iowa hadn’t even had a guy in the 149-pound bracket the past three years at the NCAA Championships. While every other school in the Big Ten qualified for the national tournament during that stretch, Tom Brands shuffled through eight wrestlers in search of what Grothus has demonstrated during the past two weeks.
“I think you have another cylinder in your lineup that’s reliable,” Brands said. “When you start to learn to win, I think there’s a lot to that.”
There’s a lot to be said, too, for momentum and morale when a team reels off a string of wins over highly ranked foes.
No. 3 Ramos nearly decked top-ranked Jon Morrison in the final minute before settling for a three-point near-fall and an 8-2 win, his third in three tries against his high school rival. The Iowa senior brushed off talk about being an underdog inside a building where he’s never lost, and Friday night’s victory added to his highlight-reel home performances.
It also may have served notice to the rest of the country that December defeats against Edinboro’s A.J. Schopp and Northern Iowa’s Joe Colon haven’t damaged Ramos’ psyche.
“I’m getting tired of hearing ‘Ramos is kind of off this year,’” he said. “I ain’t off, I’m not down. I had a bad match, I got caught. There’s two things that happened and I’m going to keep moving forward.”
St. John turned the tide of a scoreless bout in his favor at 157 when he scored a reversal with 25 seconds left in the second period, and the defending NCAA champ held off second-ranked Alex Dieringer the rest of the way for a 2-1 win.
“He’s not going to beat St.John wrestling defensively,” said Oklahoma State coach John Smith, whose team managed just two takedowns in the dual. “You’ve got to go score points.”
No. 5 Moore cashed in on his only shot against No.2 Tyler Caldwell, scoring a takedown with 15 seconds left in overtime to win a 3-1 decision at 165.
“I’m a little bit more sure about myself as a wrestler this year,” he said.
Suddenly, the Hawkeyes are a little bit more confident in themselves, too. Earlier in the week, Brands said Oklahoma State presented Iowa with a big test but also one that could propel Iowa forward with a knockout performance.
“For this team to go forward, we have to keep hammering home the things we have to do to create separation,” Brands said Friday night. “Really, what it boils down to is scoring points. Specifically … it’s being aggressive in positions, being confident to take risk and just letting it fly.”
On the other side, Smith wondered how the Cowboys could get socked repeatedly without firing a counter punch in their biggest loss to Iowa since a 29-10 defeat in 1995.
“We didn’t respond,” he said. “Bottom line: They just punched us in the mouth, and we laid down when it got real critical.”
IOWA 24, OKLAHOMA STATE 6
125: Gilman dec. Klimara, 4-2; 133: Ramos dec. Morrison, 8-2; 141: Collica (OS) dec. Dziewa, 5-3; 149: Grothus dec. Kindig, 9-5; 157: St. John dec. Dieringer, 2-1; 165: Moore dec. Caldwell, 3-1 (SV); 174: Perry (OS) dec. Evans, 5-4; 184: Brooks dec. Boyd, 7-1; 197: Burak dec. Rogers, 8-3; 285: Telford dec. Mardsen, 2-1.