Will Missouri be ready for Iowa’s home advantage and intensity in National Duals final?

Updated: February 21, 2015

By Mike Finn

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Sunday, Feb 22, will be considered the final day of the regular season for NCAA Division I wrestling teams and the 2015 NWCA National Duals will provide the ultimate ending to a dual season: a matchup between top two undefeated programs: No. 1 Iowa (17-0) and No. 2 Missouri (23-0), starting at 11:30 a.m. in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

The Hawkeyes, taking advantage of a crowd of 7,006 fans — dressed mainly in Iowa black and gold — put themselves in the final after beating Cornell, 24-8. The Tigers will join Iowa in the finals — will be televised live by the Big Ten Network — after beating Lehigh, 23-9, without many fans in the stands.

Iowa's Mike Evans (right) scored the only takedown of his 3-0 victory over Duke Pickett in the final period. (Ashley DeJager photo)

Iowa’s Mike Evans (right) scored the only takedown of his 3-0 victory over Duke Pickett in the final period. (Ashley DeJager photo)

But Brian Smith downplays the home crowd advantage that was also entertained with action that was happening between wrestlers and coaches off the mat … and eventually cost Cornell a team point.

“I think it’s awesome,” said Smith, whose team reached the finals for the first time since 2007. “I like to think they are yelling for us. It’s not something we can focus on. We just have to do our thing. If you keep doing that, you will find success. We’ve been good with that, including at places like Ohio State.

Smith said he had to yell over the Iowa fans to his team, which won seven of the bouts, including consecutive 11-3 major decisions by Lavion Mayes and Drake Houdashelt at 141 and 149 pounds, respectively, which gave the Tigers a 11-3 lead.

“The crowd is loud but you just have to focus on where you put your hands and what is your shot,” he added.

J'den Cox (left) clinched Missouri's first appearance in National Duals since 2007 with a 4-0 win over Lehigh's Elliot Riddick.(Ginger Robinson photo)

J’den Cox (left) clinched Missouri’s first appearance in National Duals since 2007 with a 4-0 win over Lehigh’s Elliot Riddick.(Ginger Robinson photo)

Some of the biggest noise came during the 174-pound match, where Iowa’s Mike Evans shut out Duke Pickett, 3-0, and could be seen shouting over the Big Red wrestler as the bout ended. Earlier in the bout, after Evans scored the match’s only takedown, Iowa assistant coach Terry Brands came running to the sideline and actually called for a takedown before the official.

“I know that I’m calm,” said head coach Tom Brands. “I just know that you wrestle until the whistle blows. My daddy told me that. You get wound up but it’s an emotional sport.”

At that point, Iowa led 15-5 after the Big Red was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct.

“I don’t know (what was said),” said Koll, who believes it team point was dropped after Cornell’s Dylan Palacio defeated Nick Moore, 5-4. “I think it was Palacio saying something after his match.

“Iowa is very physical and likes to get in your face and ties you up. We can go back and drill on guys pushing like Iowa.”

Iowa’s biggest win came at 125 pounds, where the Hawkeyes’ Thomas Gilman, who was upset earlier in the day by Chattanooga’s Sean Boyle, defeated third-ranked Nahshon Garrett, 3-1, on takedown with 20 seconds left.

“I don’t think we had to say much (to Gilman after the loss),” said Brands. He was saying a lot. He’s getting ready to go because he’s that kind of guy. That was a match he should not have lost.

“Nahshon Garrett is very explosive and he will get underneath you in a hurry and you have to wrestle him patiently. We did a good job of staying heavy on him when there was action.”

Semifinal Matches

Iowa 24, Cornell 8

125 — Thomas Gilman (Iowa) dec. Nahshon Garrett, 3-1

133 — Cory Clark (Iowa) dec. Mark Grey, 6-2

141 — Josh Dziewa (Iowa) dec. Dylan Realbuto, 5-3

149 — Brandon Sorensen (Iowa) dec. Chris Villalonga, 4-1

157 — Brian Realbuto (Cornell) dec. Mike Kelly, 10-7

165 — Dylan Palacio (Cornell) dec. Nick Moore, 5-4

174 — Mike Evans (Iowa) dec. Duke Pickett, 3-0

184 — Gabe Dean (Cornell) dec. Sammy Brooks, 6-2

197 — Nate Burak (Iowa) xxx Jace Bennett, xx

Hwt — Bobby Telford (Iowa) xxxx Jacob Aiken-Phillips, xxx

Missouri 23, Lehigh 9

125 — Alan Waters (Missouri) dec. Scott Parker, 6-3;

133 — Mason Beckman (Lehigh) dec. Zach Synon, 9-4

141 — Lavion Mayes (Missouri) major dec. Randy Cruz, 11-3

149 — Drake Houdashelt (Missouri) major dec. Drew Longo, 11-3

157 — Mitch Minotti (Lehigh) dec., Joey LaVallee, 2-0

165 — Mike England (Missouri) dec. Marshall Peppelman, 5-1

174 — John Eblen (Missouri) dec. Santiago Martinez, 4-2

184 — Nathaniel Brown (Lehigh) dec. Willie Miklus, 7-3

197 — J’den Cox (Missouri) dec. Elliot Riddick, 4-0

Hwt — Devin Mellon (Missouri) dec. Doug Vollaro, 5-3