IOWA CITY, Iowa — Iowa won six of 10 matches to defeat top-ranked Penn State 22-16 on Friday night in front of a sold-out crowd at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The win gave the third-ranked Hawkeyes (16-1, 6-0) sole possession of first place in the Big Ten Conference and snapped Penn State’s (8-1, 5-1) streak of 20 consecutive dual victories.
“I’ve got a bit of a smile on my face because we won the close matches and we scored bonus points,” Iowa head coach Tom Brands said. “That’s often the difference and that was the difference [Friday night].”
The Hawkeyes won all five matches in which they were favored and scored an upset at 174 pounds. Sixth-ranked Mike Evans’ 4-3 win against No. 4 Matt Brown swung the team score in Iowa’s favor and prevented the Hawkeyes from splitting 10 matches and looking at what would have been another tiebreaker scenario.
“They may be swing matches on paper,” said Evans, “but everyone on the team needs to step up and be a leader. Maybe I’ve had more opportunities than others, but it’s something we need to be doing.”
Iowa’s lightweights continued business as usual. Top-ranked Matt McDonough (125) used an escape in the first tiebreak to edge No. 2 Nico Megaludis 2-1 in a rematch of last year’s NCAA finals. Tony Ramos (133) created a bit of breathing room with a second-period pin against Jordan Conway, and Mark Ballweg (141) extended the Iowa lead to 13-0 with a major decision vs. Bryan Pearsall.
Ballweg’s major was his team-best 10th of the season. Ramos’s pin was his seventh of the year and improved his record to 22-0 all time at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, and McDonough’s victory extended his winning streak to 42 consecutive matches. The Iowa trio is a combined 47-1 this year.
Penn State got on the board when No. 8 Andrew Alton put an 18-8 major decision on Brody Grothus at 149, but top-ranked Derek St. John (157) pushed Iowa’s advantage back to 13 points when he scored a takedown with 32 seconds on the clock to defeat No. 5 Dylan Alton 4-3 and send Iowa into intermission with a 16-4 lead.
Penn State closed the gap again when No. 2 David Taylor earned an 18-2 technical fall against No. 13 Nick Moore, pulling the Nittany Lions within 16-9. Evans’ victory helped Iowa reclaim a 19-9 lead, but Penn State set up a decisive heavyweight bout when top-ranked Ed Ruth (184) majored Grant Gambrall 21-10 and third-ranked Quentin Wright (197) defeated No. 19 Nathan Burak 8-3.
Penn State entered the heavyweight match with an advantage in the tiebreak criteria, but Iowa walked to the mat with a 19-16 lead and the 285-pound favorite. Sixth-ranked Bobby Telford took the drama out of the match early when he took No. 17 Jon Gingrich to the mat at the 1:56 mark of the opening period. Telford put a 1:56 ride on Gingrich to end the first, and saddled the Nittany Lion the length of the second, earning a stall point along the way. He added an escape, a reversal, a takedown and a point for riding time to win the match 9-2 and send 15,077 home with an Iowa victory.
“It was my third chance [to finish a dual], and against Minnesota and Oklahoma State I was 0-2,” Telford said. “It was one of the matches on paper we needed to have. Sometimes we need bonus points, sometimes we just need a win. Either way I need to be getting my hand raised at the end.”