IOWA CITY, Ia. — Mike Evans was supposed to play a supporting role Saturday night.
The sophomore was supposed to step on the scale, put on his singlet and sit on the side as Grant Gambrall occupied the 174-pound spot in the Iowa lineup against Iowa State — at least that’s what coach Tom Brands indicated early in the week.
But plans and roles can change in an instant for Iowa wrestlers, whose job security is measured one match and practice at a time, and Evans turned into a catalyst in the fourth-ranked Hawkeyes’ 32-3 handling of the Cyclones in front of 9,623 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Evans set the tone for the Hawkeyes, scoring 29 seconds into the dual, racking up four takedowns and more than three minutes of riding time in a 10-1 major decision against Iowa State freshman Tanner Weatherman.
“I think every spot is subject to change,” said Evans, who moved up last week to 174, where Gambrall, an all-American in 2011, is ranked ninth. “I don’t think there are ever spots given away. You’re always battling and every practice is a tryout. You’ve got to perform. You’ve got to have that urgency before the spot is yours, anyway.”
The first match was a sign of things to come Saturday night.
Iowa (6-0) won nine matches and scored bonus points in five of them on its way to the largest margin of victory in the series since 1996. It marked the ninth straight victory for the Hawkeyes over the Cyclones (0-2) and their 39th win in the last 41 meetings.
Evans, two-time NCAA champion Matt McDonough, all-Americans Tony Ramos and Derek St.John and Michael Kelly all notched major decisions for the Hawkeyes.
“We got outfought, we got outhustled, we got out-handfought, which is Iowa’s signature technique and tactic — to out-handfight you,” Iowa State coach Kevin Jackson said. “We spend a hundred hours in that position and for some reason we still don’t come inside that collar (on the tie-up).”
The Hawkeyes scored 35 of the dual’s 38 takedowns and held a 98-34 advantage in match points, but no near-fall points and missed scoring opportunities left Brands with something to critique.
“I feel like we left points off the board in individual matches — consequently, we left points off the board in the team race,” he said. “The competition is going to get tougher as we get deeper into the year and we have to widen that gap, more — what I would describe — pronounced, with a thump.
“There were some good thumps, but they’d lull us to sleep a little bit. We would be intense and the thumps would come and they would translate to points. But they would start to maybe try to keep it close and we never really turned it up sometimes.”
The dual played out the way it looked on paper.
Kyven Gadson, the only Iowa State wrestler favored entering the night, claimed the lone victory for the Cyclones with a 5-4 win against Nathan Burak at 197.
Iowa State couldn’t capitalize on chances elsewhere.
Iowa’s fifth-ranked Bobby Telford scored a reversal midway through the third period and rode Matt Gibson the rest of the way for a 3-2 victory at heavyweight.
Mark Ballweg used a third-period takedown to create breathing room on his way to a 4-1 win at 141 against Iowa State’s Luke Goettl.
Iowa sophomore Nick Moore, who seized Evans’ former spot in the lineup at 165, held off Michael Moreno 3-2.
The other six winners for the Hawkeyes outscored their opponents by a collective 84-24 margin, led by second-ranked Ramos, who piled up eight takedowns in a 19-7 major decision against true freshman John Meeks at 133.
“I’ve got some guys that I can live with their performance tonight,” Jackson said. “I’ve got some guys, who, there are going to be some hurt feelings here in a few minutes.”
174 – Mike Evans (I) major dec. Tanner Weatherman 10-1
184 – Ethen Lofthouse (I) dec. Boaz Beard 10-3
197 – Kyven Gadson (ISU) dec. Nathan Burak 5-4
Hwt. – Bobby Telford (I) dec. Matt Gibson 3-2
125 – Matt McDonough (I) major dec. Ryak Finch 13-2
133 – Tony Ramos (I) major dec. John Meeks 19-7
141 – Mark Ballweg (I) dec. Luke Goettl 4-1
149 – Michael Kelly (I) major dec. Luke Swalla 16-6
157 – Derek St. John (I) major dec. Logan Molina 16-5
165 – Nick Moore (I) dec. Michael Moreno 3-2