IOWA CITY – Consider the University of Iowa’s 149-pound demons exorcised.
At a weight that has been more trouble than triumph since two-time NCAA champion Brent Metcalf graduated after 2010 season, Brody Grothus has provided an optimistic punch, including a huge blow to rival Oklahoma State.
Grothus knocked off third-ranked Josh Kindig, 9-5, helping the third-ranked Hawkeyes to a 24-6 dominant win over the No. 5 Cowboys last night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa won eight of 10 bouts, posting its biggest win over Oklahoma State since a 29-10 win in 1995.
The Hawkeyes sophomore said he decided in his mind that last night would be his breakout performance. Grothus said it was a memorable victory.
“They’re all big, but this one is definitely up there,” Grothus said. “I’m going to remember this on. I’m going to keep building off this one.”
Grothus turned the momentum in Iowa’s favor in a spot in the lineup that has normally been a boost for the opposition. He was aware of the perception and the results and he was determined to put a stop to it and has knocked off three highly ranked foes since Christmas.
“I think I’m taking it personally,” Grothus said. “I don’t like watching my weight class not perform up to the expectations of this university and in order to be a guy at this school you need to be a contender up there. You need to be the guy on top.”
Coaches drilled it into his head that someone had to take control. He has been solid the last month, placing fourth at Midlands Championships and winning matches in three straight duals to start the season.
“It’s all in your mind. It really is,” Grothus said. “This sport is so mental.
“I decided I was going to be that guy and I was going to be the one to step up and take over that spot. I think that is when things started to click.”
Iowa Coach Tom Brands said the Hawkeyes wrestled smarter, including Grothus. He saw improvement from Grothus with things still to improve. Success at 149 allows the Hawkeyes to have a more balanced team.
“I think you have another cylinder so to speak in your lineup that’s reliable,” said Brands, mentioning Mike Kelly fits that description as well. “When you start to learn to win, I think there’s a lot to that.”
Grothus originally turned heads with his unorthodox style and the ability to hit a big move. He relied on it too much and has worked on basics, opening up those big moves from wrestling hard in good position. It led to his takedown that opened the scoring and led to a decisive reversal and three-point nearfall in the second.
“You have to work hard in all aspects of wrestling,” Grothus said. “Like Terry Brands said, you have to score first and keep scoring and that was my mentality.”
The recent run by Grothus has created excitement among his teammates. Stronger links have bolster the Hawkeyes chain.
“Grothus finally got his head … in gear,” Hawkeye 133-pounder Tony Ramos said. “He’s figuring it out. He’s got to keep figuring it out and keep moving forward.”
Grothus reignited the crowd, announced at 10,141, that was previously sparked by Ramos, which has become a regular occurrence during his 31-0 mark at CHA.
Ramos, ranked fourth, beat No. 1 Jon Morrison, 8-2, improving to 3-0 against the Cowboy in college.
“Coming in I knew this was going to be a big match,” Ramos said. “He’s supposedly No. 1. I don’t care about the rankings. They’re going to figure themselves out.”
“I just want to go out and make a statement.”
He was loud and clear that his demise is greatly exaggerated after being pinned by University of Northern Iowa’s Joe Colon in the Midlands final and losing in a dual to Edinboro’s A.J. Schopp.
“I’m not off,” Ramos said. “I’m not down.”
Ramos controlled the match, scoring takedowns in the first and third. The latter came when Morrison tried to roll when Ramos elevated his leg, allowing Ramos to put him on his back for three nearfall.
“I dropped my hips and caught him on his back,” Ramos said. “Still trying to figure out how he got off.”
Derek St. John followed the Grothus win with a hard-fought win in one of the dual’s marquee matches. Top-ranked and defending NCAA champion St. John used a reversal in the second period for a 2-1 win over No. 2 Alex Dieringer at 157, giving Iowa a 12-3 lead midway through the meet.
“You just keep wrestling and those things open up and develop throughout the match,” St. John said about the reversal. “I kind of just fell into it.”
Like Ramos, St. John remained unbeaten at home. He improved to 20-0 this season with a 27-match win streak and 30-0 in CHA.
“I try to keep all that stuff out of my mind and behind me,” St. John said. “There are a lot of things like that going on right now … you have to put it on the backburner and can’t think about that stuff and let it bother you.”
After the break, Nick Moore kept Iowa rolling with an overtime win at 165. Moore, ranked fifth, scored a takedown with 15 seconds remaining in sudden victory for a 3-1 decision over No. 2 Tyler Caldwell, putting Iowa up, 15-3. He avenged a close loss to Caldwell from last year’s dual won by Oklahoma State.
“I think I was a little more sure about myself as a wrestler this year,” Moore said. “Not that I wasn’t sure last year.”
Gilman opened the dual with a 4-2 decision over 16th-ranked Eddie Klimara. He used a first-period takedown, finishing a single on the edge of the mat, to earn the win, adding a point for riding time.
Sam Brooks wrestled at 184. Brands said Ethen Lofthouse was dinged up in last week’s dual against Michigan State. Brooks responded with a 7-1 win over Nathan Boyd. Nathan Burak (197) and heavyweight Bobby Telford closed out with decisions.
Iowa dominated the dual, owning an 11-2 takedown edge and 8-0 advantage in nearfall points. Oklahoma State had twice as many reversals (4) as it had takedowns (2).
“This team, to go forward, we have to keep hammering home the things we have to do to create separation,” Brands said. “What it boils down to is scoring points.”
Oklahoma State coach John Smith seemed stunned by the lack of effort his team displayed. They managed two wins from Anthony Collica (141) and second-ranked Chris Perry at 174.
Smith said the tight matches went Iowa’s way. The Hawkeyes earned the wins, leaving Smith to figure out why the Cowboys (3-3) weren’t ready to perform.
“We didn’t respond,” Smith said. “We didn’t look like a team that needed to hit them in the mouth and make something happen. Instead, we got hit in the mouth, kind of fell down and dropped our heads.”
AT CARVER-HAWKEYE ARENA
Iowa 24, Oklahoma State 6
(Individual takedowns in parentheses)
125 pounds – Thomas Gilman (I) dec. Eddie Klimara, 4-2 (1,0); 133 – Tony Ramos (I) dec. Jon Morrison, 8-2 (2, 0); 141 – Anthony Collica (OSU) dec. Josh Dziewa, 5-3 (1, 1); 149 – Brody Grothus (I) dec. Josh Kindig, 9-5 (1, 0); 157 – Derek St. John (I) dec. Alex Dieringer, 2-1 (0, 0); 165 – Nick Moore (I) dec. Tyler Caldwell, 3-1 SV (1, 0); 174 – Chris Perry (OSU) dec. Mike Evans, 5-4 (1, 0); 184 – Sam Brooks (I) dec. Nathan Boyd, 7-1 (1, 0); 197 – Nathan Burak (I) dec. Jordan Rogers, 8-3 (3, 0); Hwt. – Bobby Telford (I) dec. Austin Marsden, 2-1 (0, 0).
Takedowns – OSU 2, Iowa 11; Reversals – OSU 4, Iowa 3; Escapes – OSU 11, Iowa 9; Nearfall points – OSU 0, Iowa 8; Penalty points (awarded) – OSU 1, Iowa 1; Riding time points – OSU 2, Iowa 4; Total match points – OSU 26, Iowa 50; A – 10, 141.
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