Well, it’s time to wrap up 2014 for the Iowa Hawkeyes. I have not posted since Friday. Tough Blog to write, but that is part of being a passionate fan and what I do with my Blog.
To start with, I was definitely off on how I predicted Iowa would do at Nationals. I have had some time to look back and I am not going to second guess my predictions. I was sure that Penn State was not going to put up a gaudy team total. I had their over/under of team points at 115. I thought it was very realistic for Iowa to perform in the team race like Minnesota did. By that I mean having the team title come down to the finals. With some breaks and a great tournament, Iowa would win it all. More realistic was for Iowa to finish second, but with momentum heading into next year. Let’s face it. The Taylor/Ruth point production has been amazing these last four years for Penn State, but I thought the Hawks were due to explode.
I was also off on how Okie State and Minnesota did. From 2009-2012, I thought Okie State either had disappointing National Tournaments or I had over estimated how good they were. Now the last two years, I did not think Okie State would contend for the title and they have taken Penn State right down to the finals for the team title.
After a disastrous semifinal round at Big Tens, I did not think that Minnesota would be in the team hunt at Nationals. If there is a fan base saying “What if?”, it is Minnesota. The Dardanes brothers, who I really like watching compete, did not place even though they were both seeded high. Minnesota made a really big run for the title but fell a little short with very little points from two of their best wrestlers.
Iowa had six All Americans and a National champion in Tony Ramos to place fourth as a team. The thrill that Ramos provided with his finals match took some of the sting off of the tournament. That was as good of an ending to a finals match that I have ever seen. Tony Ramos is very deserving of the media attention he is receiving. Ramos carried the torch for Iowa Wrestling when his team was not helping him out. Because of the this and his total body of work, Tony Ramos takes his place with the all time legends of Iowa Wrestling. I am very happy for him.
If my math is correct, the Hawks were 31-20 in total matches wrestled. The stat that is the most telling of the tournament is that Iowa only had one wrestler place above fourth, and that was Ramos. Iowa did not have enough of the big point getters.. I am certain that most would have had had Moore and Lofthouse placing in their predictions, but it did not work out that way.
St. John placed fifth at 157. I have really enjoyed following Derek St. John’s carreer. There are very few four-time All Americans. St. John was always a gritty competitor and will always be known as a National Champ.
I thought Cory Clark had some real good matches in placing fifth. This guy will entertain you. I look for Clark to have a stellar career at Iowa and the best is yet to come, and in a big way.
Josh Dziewa fought hard in going 2-2 as did Brody Grothus going 1-2. Neither placed but did their best. Nobody will ever ask for more than that. Both of these wrestlers will come back better next year after making huge strides this year. Nobody improved more throughout the season than Nick Moore. Hey, he had a bad tournament and will be back next season. Not much else to say. Ethen Lofthouse did not place at Nationals, but he was still a two-time NCAA Division I All American. That is quite an accomplishment.
Bobby Telford had a good tournament. He avenged two earlier losses to Coon of Michigan and lost a close match to Nelson in the semifinals and placed fourth. I look for Telford to keep improving and win it all next season.
There were three huge highlights for me in this tournament. Nathan Burak scored the upset over sixth ranked Perry of Bloomsburg in the second round. That was a huge win for the team at that time and also for Burak. I was very glad to see Burak go on to place eighth and become an All American. This guy has been kind of lost to the media throughout the year, but not by me.
The Mike Evans quarters win over Brown of Penn State was a great win. Evans showed how tough he really is by making that win happen. I do not think Evans got a fair shake by the officials in the semifinals and went on to place sixth.
Tony Ramos won all of his matches in the final seconds or in OT. The semifinals win over Schopp of Edinboro was classic Ramos in making something happen when it counted. Just when you think Ramos could not top that match, he did in the finals. I have never seen a finals match end with backpoints in a flurry like that. As I mentioned in an earlier Blog, Tony Ramos is a bad man.
I hope to get a Tom Brands interview later this week. I will do my best.
It is time to start thinking about next season. The Iowa Hawkeyes will more than likely be everyone’s pre-season #1 ranked team. For tomorrow’s Blog I will go over my projected lineup and thoughts about next season.