The past two dual meets between college wrestling’s two most storied programs have resulted in a virtual stalemate.
Iowa and Oklahoma State wrestled to a 15-all tie two years ago in Stillwater before the Cowboys edged the Hawkeyes 17-16 last year in Iowa City, scoring the decisive point on criteria after the dual ended in a deadlock.
Both teams won 10 matches during those two meetings. Both teams produced one major decision each.
It could be more of the same this afternoon at Gallagher-Iba Arena, where the fourth-ranked Hawkeyes wrestle the No. 2 Cowboys in a dual that looks even on paper, with both teams favored in five matches.
“For us to (win) again, we’re going to have to outwrestle them,” Oklahoma State coach John Smith said. “When you really look at it, there are pretty neat matchups all the way up and down, interesting matchups. … I see a lot of matchups that appear are going to be fun to watch. We need to win the majority of the matches, I know that.”
Two of the most compelling bouts are at 141 and 174.
Iowa’s ninth-ranked 141-pounder, Mark Ballweg, takes on Julian Feikert, a Keokuk native who surfaced with the Cowboys after medaling twice at the Iowa state high school meet. Feikert made a championship match appearance in 2007, when he lost to Iowa senior Matt McDonough.
Smith said Feikert has “been a real joy” to coach, “creates great chemistry for our team being in our lineup” and has made continual improvement during his first year as a starter.
“We’re familiar with the guy,” Iowa coach Tom Brands said. “It’s unique, maybe, with a guy from this state going down there and being the starter. … It’s not like we’ve never heard of him and all of a sudden he shows up. We know who he is.”
The Hawkeyes know Chris Perry well, too. The younger brother of Iowa two-time NCAA champion Mark Perry is 17-0 this season and ranked No. 1 at 174. He edged Grant Gambrall 2-0 in the 2011 dual and beat Ethen Lofthouse 3-2 in a tiebreaker last year in a pivotal bout that flipped the dual in Oklahoma State’s favor.
Now Perry will try his hand against another Hawkeye, sixth-ranked Mike Evans.
“Let’s keep a good thing going there,” Brands said. “I’m sure Mike Evans relishes the challenge, as do we. It’s going to be an entertaining match. When I say ‘entertaining,’ let’s make it that way and go in our favor.”