MINNEAPOLIS – The nation’s top-ranked heavyweight flexed in the face of the Iowa wrestlers Saturday night and took a victory lap around the mat, imploring both sides of the Williams Arena crowd to applaud another defeat for the Hawkeyes.
Iowa stumbled twice on the final day of Mat Mayhem, and Missouri gave the Hawkeyes a metaphorical kick while they were on the mat.
The Tigers topped Iowa for the first time in school history, winning six matches to claim an 18-16 victory in the dual for third place after eventual champion Minnesota handled the Hawkeyes 22-15 in the semifinals.
Dom Bradley scored a takedown in the second overtime period to beat Bobby Telford 4-2 in the winner-take-all heavyweight bout before Missouri’s top-ranked senior capped Iowa’s dismal day with a series of taunts directed at the Hawkeyes.
“Everything that happened today,” Iowa sophomore 174-pounder Mike Evans said, “we let it happen.”
Suddenly, Iowa – which looked like it was making a national championship push three weeks ago after knocking off then No. 1 Penn State – has a list of concerns entering the postseason.
Top-ranked Hawkeyes Matt McDonough and Derek St. John dropped decisions Saturday night.
Senior 141-pounder Mark Ballweg, who lost just once in his first 19 matches, fell for the third straight time earlier in the day.
And Iowa’s postseason lineup remains unsettled at 149 and 184, a pair of weights where the Hawkeyes have collected a total of two wins in the last month.
“We’ve got to get our stuff together and start hammering some things out,” Evans said. “You can’t fly into Big Tens and NCAAs with loose nails on your ship. You’ve got to hammer those things down.”
The Hawkeyes have two weeks to tidy the boat before the Big Ten Championships, but Iowa won’t be going into the postseason individual tournaments with wind in its sails.
Iowa coach Tom Brands pounded the table in front of him and expressed his frustration in clear-cut terms during his post-meet news conference after the second-ranked Hawkeyes stumbled against Minnesota in the semifinals, losing to a team they defeated in January.
The Gophers won six of the last eight matches, including the final four after Iowa raced out to a 9-0 lead after a win from McDonough and a fall from Tony Ramos at 133.
Minnesota’s Nick Dardanes, who lost to Ballweg in January, scored three takedowns in the third period on his way to a 12-4 major decision against the eighth-ranked Hawkeye. And Dylan Ness pinned Michael Kelly at 149 to put the Gophers in front.
Iowa’s bid to recover came unraveled in a sea of missed takedown opportunities and an inability to come off the bottom position.
“Start of the match to the (end) of the match our demeanor changes,” Brands said. “You come out tough and then a little bit downhill, and an opponent will thrive off that. That’s where, as a competitor, the hair on the back of my neck stands up. It’s prickly right now.”
Brands was less animated during his news conference at the end of the tournament, but the Iowa coach said “there’s probably a lot of compounding of what I said (after the semifinals).”
“We have to move forward,” he said. “There are some things that are maybe a little bit bizarre, and we need to not go back down that path.”
Most bizarre: McDonough and St. John lost in the same dual for the first time in three years together as starters.
Missouri’s fourth-ranked Alan Waters remained unbeaten by scoring a first-period takedown, riding McDonough for more than two minutes and coasting to a 4-0 win at 125.
Kyle Bradley, ranked No. 19 at 157, used a takedown with 25 seconds remaining to knock off previously-unbeaten St. John 4-3.
“It’s a big win for the program,” Missouri coach Brian Smith said. “We’ve never beaten Iowa and to go out there and get it – we won six or seven matches, I lost count – it was a good win for us.”
MISSOURI 18, IOWA 16
125: Waters (M) dec. McDonough, 4-0; 133: Ramos (I) won by forfeit; 141: Dziewa (I) maj. dec. Hucke, 10-2; 149: Houdashelt (M) dec. Grothus, 6-2; 157: Brady (M) dec. St. John, 4-3; 165: Moore (I) dec. Toal, 3-1; 174: Evans (I) dec. Porter, 5-2; 184: Larson (M) dec. Lofthouse, 3-2; 197: Haynes (M) dec. Burak, 1-0; hwt: Bradley (M) dec. Telford, 4-2.
SEMIFINAL DUAL STORY
MINNEAPOLIS – The demeanor of Iowa’s wrestling coach remained constant during four minutes at the interview room podium Saturday afternoon.
Tom Brands bristled, pounded the table in front of him and expressed his frustration in clear-cut terms after the second-ranked Hawkeyes stumbled in a 22-15 defeat against third-seeded Minnesota during the Mat Mayhem semifinals at Williams Arena.
There were no mood changes from the Iowa head coach. His team, on the other hand, was a different story in a few critical instances.
“Start of the match to the (end) of the match our demeanor changes,” Brands said. “You come out tough and then a little bit downhill and an opponent will thrive off that. That’s where, as a competitor, the hair on the back of my neck stands up. It’s prickly right now.”
The Hawkeyes came out tough and then it went downhill in a hurry for Iowa in its bid to return to the finals of the National Duals for the first time since 2010.
Minnesota (15-2) won six of the last eight matches, including the final four, to reverse the regular-season outcome and knock the Hawkeyes (20-2) out of Mat Mayhem title contention for the second straight year.
The Gophers set up a Saturday night rematch of last year’s championship dual against top-seeded Oklahoma State. Meanwhile, Iowa entered the third-place dual against Missouri trying to regain its balance in its last meet before the Big Ten Championships.
The Hawkeyes were plagued Saturday by bottom-position struggles and an inability to finish shots. Minnesota collected riding-time points in victories at 141, 174, 184 and heavyweight.
“It didn’t look very good,” Brands said. “You call it what you want.”
Mike Evans, Grant Gambrall, Nathan Burak and Bobby Telford all failed to cash in on single-leg scoring opportunities in the first period of then-scoreless matches at 174 through heavyweight. Evans and Telford surrendered second-period reversals that changed the complexion of 3-1 defeats to No. 1 Logan Storley and defending NCAA champ Tony Nelson, respectively.
“Who cares about mistakes if you recover?” Brands said. “We talk about (not giving) up reversals because you’re high in the way you ride and then you don’t come off the bottom and you’re giving matches away. Not points but matches. You’re giving them away.”
The Hawkeyes had little room for error on paper. Iowa, which edged Minnesota 16-15 on criteria on Jan. 26 after the two teams split 10 decisions, grabbed a 9-0 lead Saturday after two matches.
Matt McDonough handled David Thorn 8-2 at 125 and Tony Ramos registered his team-best 11th pin at 133.
Ramos was headed for a major decision against Chris Dardanes when the second-ranked junior caught the Minnesota all-American on his back in a scramble and scored the fall with 4 seconds remaining in the third period.
“(Ramos has) done a fabulous job this season,” Minnesota assistant Brandon Eggum said. “He’s come up big for them a number of times now and to get a pin like that was really devastating in that part of the dual.”
The devastation didn’t last long for the Gophers. Dardanes’ ninth-ranked twin brother, Nick, avenged a January loss to No. 8 Mark Ballweg, racking up three takedowns in the third on his way to a 12-4 major decision at 141.
“The takedowns were coming pretty easy,” Dardanes said. “I think he was getting a little tired.”
It was the third straight loss for the senior Ballweg after an 18-1 start.
“We got whipped,” Brands said. “We’ve got to figure it out.”
Minnesota sophomore Dylan Ness, an NCAA runner-up last year, neutralized Ramos’ pin with a fall of his own, cranking Michael Kelly over in the first period to put the Gophers ahead.
“Even in the matches we lost, we felt like our guys had made some big improvements from the previous dual,” Eggum said. “You could kind of feel momentum swinging our way from the beginning.”
MINNESOTA 22, IOWA 15
125: McDonough (I) dec. Thorn, 8-2; 133: Ramos (I) pinned C. Dardanes, 6:56; 141: N. Dardanes (M) maj. dec. Ballweg, 12-4; 149: Ness (M) pinned Kelly, 2:39; 157: St. John (I) dec. Zilverberg, 7-4; 165: Moore (I) dec. Yohn, 3-2; 174: Storley (M) dec. evans, 3-1; 184: Steinhaus (M) dec. Gambrall, 4-0; 197: Shiller (M) dec. Burak, 9-3; hwt: Nelson (M) dec. Telford, 3-1.