Roberts, much older & wiser, meets Hafizov again in Final X
Photo: Dalton Roberts (left) beat Ildar Hafizov at the 2023 U.S. Open...
By Mike Finn, Editor, WIN Magazine
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Don’t tell the young Iowa wrestlers that they lack experience this season, especially Friday night when the Hawkeyes got four victories from young men in their first dual against instate rival Iowa State, which led to a 22-13 team victory.
And it was that mentality that helped sophomore Mark Ballweg overcome a deep takedown attempt by Iowa State’s Chris Drouin that resulted in the Hawkeye coming out the back side for the deciding takedown points in Ballweg’s 3-1 victory over Drouin, a senior transfer from Arizona State, where he earned All-American honors.
“You can’t get scared because someone has a (national ranking) number behind them,” said Ballweg.
Iowa State coach Kevin Jackson apparently thought Drouin’s reputation would have helped him
“I believe he thought he could win and may have thought it could be easy,” said Jackson, who also saw his wrestler also come close to scoring takedowns against Ballweg earlier times in the match. “Chris didn’t continue to compete and that was for the match.”
A flat performance by the Cyclones frustrated the ISU coach, who saw his alma mater lose for a seventh straight time before 11,895 fans in Carver Hawkeye Arena.
“This was a missed opportunity,” Jackson said. :I’m disappointed with the competitiveness of a number of our guys and their inability to be able to compete.
I’m not talking about winning or losing, but just competing and fighting to win.”
Iowa State actually took a 3-0 lead when Jerome Ward edged Iowa’s Luke Lofthouse, 5-3, in overtime after the two penality points in the final 30 seconds force overtime in the bout.
At that point, the Hawkeyes won four straight bouts, including two consecutive major decisions by defending champion Matt McDonough over Patrick Hunter, a JUCO transfer and national champion from Iowa Central, and redshirt freshman Tony Ramos.
That set up Ballweg’s exciting victory over Drouin, which gave Iowa a 14-3 lead after five matches and an intermission. Iowa State actually won three of the final matches by Nate Carr (149), Andrew Sorenson (165) and Jon Reader (174). But both of Iowa’s last two victories were major decisions by Derek St. John (157) and Grant Gambrall (184).
So what did the Iowa fans learn about this young team?
“Remember, we’ve seen them in the room for a lot time now,” said Iowa coach Tom Brands. “They’ve wrestled in big matches their entire life. We know what they are capable of.”
That included at 133 where Brands chose Ramos over junior Nate Moore at 133 pounds.
“There are three of us fighting for the spot,” said Ramos, who was told after the 125-pound bout that he would wrestle his first varsity match in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. “I just have to go out there and do my best. In my head, I’m always losing a match. The fans were amazing. They say I’m a young guy but I was talking to my parents today and decided I’ve been doing this for 15 years, nearly my whole life.
Ramos said the crowd’s reaction to his scoring helped him.
“I could hear it getting louder and louder as I was scoring points,” said Ramos, a native of the Chicago area. “To please the fans here, you have to wrestle hard for seven minutes. It doesn’t matter if you’re winning or losing, you have to go hard the whole time. If a guys on the edge of the mat, you have to push him off. You can’t be standing around or you’ll hear about it later.”
197 —Jerome Ward (Iowa State) dec. Luke Lofthouse, 5-3 sv / Team: Iowa State 3, Iowa 0
Ward ended the match with 14 seconds left on the clock in overtime when he countered a shot by the Hawkeye. Ward, who competed at 184 pounds last year, also scored the only other takedown in the match off a double leg with 49 seconds left in the first period, but Lofthouse was able to force overtime when Ward was twice penalized for stalling in the third period; the second one coming with three seconds in the match.
Hwt — Blake Raising (Iowa) dec. Kyle Simonson, 2-0 / Team: Iowa State 3, Iowa 3
Raising’s points came from an escape in the third period and the second came off a 1:21 riding time advantage that the Hawkeye earned primarily from riding the Cyclone the entire second period. Simonson was actually more aggressive and had a good shot at Raising but could not complete the move especially when the larger Hawkeye used the weight advantage to defend the move.
125 — Matt McDonough (Iowa) major dec. Patrick Hunter, 14-4 / Team: Iowa 7, Iowa State 3
The defending national champion put on takedown clinic against the transfer from Iowa Central (where Hunter won a NJCAA crown last year) as McDonough used a strongn single attack to score three takedowns in the first period before adding two more in the second period to lead 10-4. In the final frame, McDonough quickly reversed Hunter then added a stalling point against the Cyclone sophomore before completing the scoring with a 4:36 riding time advantage.
133 — Tony Ramos (Iowa) dec. Brandon Jones, 14-5 / Team: Iowa 11, Iowa State 3
Ramos, the redshirt freshman from Carol Stream, Ill., and Glenbard North High School turned his Carver-Hawkeye debut into domination when he scored three of his six takedowns in the first period and added a 2:40 riding time advantage. Jones, a redshirt freshman from West Des Moines, Iowa, scored all his points off escapes but was warned for stalling in the final period when Ramos also tallied two more takedowns.
141 — Mark Ballweg (Iowa) dec. Chris Drouin, 3-1 / Team: Iowa 14, Iowa State 3
The Hawkeye sophomore fought off several good takedown attempts by the ISU senior and the most important defense came with about 20 seconds left when Ballweg came out the back end of shot attempt by Drouin for the deciding takedown with 11 seconds left in the match. Drouin, a transfer from Arizona State, nearly scored a takedown at the end of the first period before time ran out.
149 —Nate Carr (Iowa State) major dec. Jeret Chiri, 13-3 / Team: Iowa 14, Iowa State 7
The Cyclone, whose father (by the same first name) was three-time NCAA champion, actually surrendered the first two points (when the Hawkeye sophomore scored a takedown a minute into the match) but rallied to score 10 points the final two periods. Four of Carr’s points came in the second period when he twice put the Hawkeye on his back for a pair of two-point near falls. In the final period, after Chiri was warned for stalling, Carr added two more takedowns and added a 2:51 riding time advantage.
157 — Derek St. John (Iowa) major dec. Trent Weathermen, 12-3 / Team: Iowa 18, Iowa State 7
The Hawkeye redshirt freshman saved his best for last when St. John scored three of his five takedowns in the final 1:18 to overwhelm the Iowa State redshirt freshman. St. John’s first takedown came in with 1:25 left in the first period and rode out the Cyclone the rest of the period. In the second frame, St. John escaped before adding a second takedown that saw him increase his riding time advantage to 1:49. In the end, the Hawkeye amassed a 2:38 riding time for the final point.
165 — Andrew Sorenson (Iowa State) dec. Jake Kerr, 4-1 / Team: Iowa 18, Iowa State 10
The Cyclone junior scored the match’s only takedown with 1:15 left in the second period, moments after he opened the scoring with an escape in the second frame. Kerr final scored an escape in the third period but not until there was a minute left, preserving a 1:52 riding time advantage for Sorenson.
174 — Jon Reader (Iowa State) dec. Ethen Lofthouse, 6-1 / Team: Iowa 18, Iowa State 13
The Cyclone senior, up from competing the past three years at 165, needed 17 seconds to score a takedown and rode the younger Lofthouse the rest of the period. In the second period, Reader scored an escape and takedown to build his riding time to 3:18.
184 — Grant Gambrall (Iowa) major dec. Cole Shafer, 12-3 / Team: Iowa 22, Iowa State 13
The Hawkeye scored six of his points in the final period on three takedowns and an also benefitted from over two minutes of riding time.