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UI finishes third straight undefeated home season

[ 2 ] February 13, 2011 |

There were instances during the first three matches Sunday when Iowa’s home crowd was louder than it had been at any other point this wrestling season.

Matt McDonough extended his pinning streak, Tony Ramos shoved his opponent around before a late scoring barrage and Montell Marion was on the verge of knocking off Michigan’s top-ranked Kellen Russell.

There was a lot that the crowd of 8,790 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena appreciated during the early portion of second-ranked Iowa’s 30-7 beating of the No. 10 Wolverines.

“I tell you, the crowd was into it,” Iowa coach Tom Brands said. “The crowd was into it, and (had) Montell (won), I think the roof would’ve come off.”

Instead, Russell momentarily took the air out of the party balloon, remaining undefeated with a stunning comeback, and it took a pair of stirring wins in the last two bouts to re-energize the arena during Iowa’s last home dual of the season.

The Hawkeyes (14-0-1, 7-0 Big Ten) won eight bouts on their way to wrapping up their third consecutive undefeated home season.

Heavyweight Blake Rasing punctuated Iowa’s 31st straight conference win by pinning 10th-ranked Ben Apland with a third-period bear hug. Minutes earlier, eighth-ranked senior Luke Lofthouse scored a late takedown and tacked on a point for riding time in a 7-3 win at 197 against No. 11 Anthony Biondo.

“That’s how I’m going to win matches,” Lofthouse said of sticking to his offense. “That’s my philosophy, it’s the philosophy of the coaches, philosophy of the team — attack, attack, attack.”

Brands hammered that point during his post-meet news conference. Iowa’s attacking philosophy was a relevant subject Sunday after top-ranked Russell’s 9-5 overtime win against No. 3 Marion at 141 pounds.

Marion scored two takedowns in the third period to build a 5-2 lead. Things went haywire after that for the Iowa junior. Russell escaped with 25 seconds remaining and Marion was looking for another takedown out of a front headlock when the Michigan junior popped loose and spun around to tie the match with 11 ticks left. The last sequence of regulation was eerily similar to Russell’s comeback win three years ago against Iowa’s Dan LeClere in the Big Ten semifinals.

Brands supported Marion’s aggressiveness.

“There’s a lot of good there,” Brands said. “We’ve just got to be smarter, and we’ve got to nail those positions down so we can slam the door on him.”

Russell capitalized on the opening, scoring on a duck-under and adding a pair of near-fall points to improve to 29-0.

“I’ve had a bunch of tough matches the last two weeks,” Russell said. “I’ve been trying to work on my stuff and it was great to get that win. It’s not the way I wanted to win, but it’s good. You’re going to have to fight and come back in matches. That’s good practice right there.”

Michigan (10-5, 5-3) picked up its other victory from Eric Grajales, who won a 13-3 major decision against Mark Ballweg at 149. Iowa got decisive wins from Derek St. John and Aaron Janssen at 157 and 165, respecitively, to regain control of the dual.

The Hawkeyes held a 25-10 advantage in takedowns and a 70-51 edge in match points. The early portion of the dual was all Iowa.

Top-ranked McDonough scored four takedowns on rapid-fire shots before cranking over Sean Boyle for a fall in 3 minutes, 56 seconds. It was the sixth consecutive pin for McDonough and his seventh in seven conference duals. He said his string of falls is the product of doing more of what he does best.

“Working harder in the beginning of the match and scoring more points and executing more offense and never letting up pressure,” McDonough said. “It’s no secret the way I wrestle, but if you continue to build every step of the match, (a pin) is what your end goal is before the seven minutes is up.”

Ramos spent more than six minutes making attempts to get to the legs of No. 19 Zac Stevens at 133. The eighth-ranked Iowa freshman had several near misses, including a pair in the second period when Stevens kicked out of a shot on the edge of the mat and Ramos shoved him toward the Iowa cheerleaders, drawing cheers from the crowd and a protest from Michigan coach Joe McFarland.

Ramos finally took control late, scoring two takedowns and a two-point near-fall in the final 27 seconds to win a 7-2 decision.

“Ramos was a bully in that third period,” Brands said. “He missed some opportunities, dodged some bullets early. We’ve got to keep doing what we’re doing there and capitalize.”

 Reach Andy Hamilton at 339-7368 or ahamilton@press-citizen.com.

Iowa 30, Michigan 7

 125 – Matt McDonough (I) pinned Sean Boyle 3:56.

 133 – Tony Ramos (I) dec. Zac Stevens 7-2.

 141 – Kellen Russell (M) dec. Montell Marion 9-5 OT.

 149 – Eric Grajales (M) major dec. Mark Ballweg 13-3.

 157 – Derek St. John (I) dec. Brandon Zeerip 10-3.

 165 – Aaron Janssen (I) dec. Dan Yates 11-4.

 174 – Ethen Lofthouse (I) dec. Justin Zeerip 6-4.

 184 – Grant Gambrall (I) dec. Hunter Collins 9-6.

 197 – Luke Lofthouse (I) dec. Anthony Biondo 7-3.

 Hwt. – Blake Rasing (I) pinned Ben Apland 6:11.

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Category: Wrestling

About Andy Hamilton: University of Iowa graduate Andy Hamilton is originally from Williams, Iowa, and started at the Des Moines Register in August after 12 years at the Press-Citizen. He covers wrestling for Hawk Central. View author profile.

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