By Matt Levins, Special to TheMat.com
Brancale, Ness and Schiller help lead Minnesota over Iowa, 19-15
IOWA CITY — Minnesota freshman Sam Brancale silenced the crowd at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Dylan Ness stunned the defending national champion and the Iowa faithful.
And Scott Schiller sent the fans streaming for the exit.
On a day when fourth-ranked Minnesota absorbed losses by fifth-ranked Chris Dardanes at 141 pounds, fifth-ranked Logan Storley at 174 and two-time national champion Tony Nelson at heavyweight, the Golden Gophers still found a away to walk with a 19-15 win over second-ranked Iowa in front of 10,855 mostly stunned fans on Saturday afternoon.
A stunning pin by Brancale of third-ranked Thomas Gilman at 125 and Ness’s upset of Derek St. John at 157 propelled the Golden Gophers to their first regular-season dual victory over Iowa in eight years. The Golden Gophers’ win snapped the Hawkeyes’ 16-match Big Ten winning streak and was Iowa’s second home loss in a season since 2007.
Minnesota (8-1 overall, 5-1 Big Ten), coming off a stinging road loss to Michigan last week, came out the aggressor against Iowa (11-2, 4-1). Minnesota had 14 takedowns to Iowa’s five and scored 12 first points to the Hawkeyes’ four. The Golden Gophers kept Iowa on the defensive all afternoon, making it tough for the Hawkeyes to get any offense going.
“Before the match, (Minnesota head coach) J (Robinson) just basically told us that great things can happen here. Take each period second by second. Take each period one at a time. I’ve had trouble before earlier this year giving guys too much respect before the match. I was given an opportunity to take him to his back and I capitalized on it and then I did it again, said Brancale, who was 11-5 coming into the match. “I feel it’s important, but each guy has to do their part. It’s nice to get the ball rolling with some momentum, especially in a place like this where some guys can let the crowd get to them.”
“You got a good chance today to see what wrestling really about. You’ve got two schools that are both super intense. Both want to win. When you get there those matches show what both school are all about. It’s about winning, but it’s about the intensity and the effort and everything that goes along with it,” Robinson said. “When you get into things like this, anything can happen. It doesn’t matter where you are ranked, It doesn’t make any difference who you are. It just means you better wrestle the whole time because the other side is bringing their ‘A’ game here. The other side is not coming here to go through the motions. The other side is coming here to win. You basically have two gladiators out there and they’re both battling and they both want to win.”
Iowa, despite winning five of the 10 matches and getting big wins from sixth-ranked Mike Evans at 174 and third-ranked heavyweight Bobby Telford against opponents who previously had their numbers, gave up bonus points in two matches. Those extra points proved to be the difference in the dual.
“That silliness. Here’s the thing. I can look at this from two ways from my perspective. I can grow up a little bit and give some credit and not make it a moral victory and move forward, because we can iron out some things, especially at 57 and 25. What on Earth they were doing, especially at 25? That’s something they’ve got to figure out and we’ll help them figure it out. That’s just doing the things you’re good at. We didn’t do those things today. Bizarre to me, except it happens,” Brands said.
Brancale silenced the crowd immediately. He scored a takedown on Gilman just 15 seconds into the match, then used a neck wrench to turn Gilman for three near-fall points and a quick 5-0 lead.
Brancale caught Gilman with the same move moments late, this time sticking his shoulders to the mat for a fall in 2 minutes, 3 seconds to give Minnesota a 6-0 lead.
“He shot. I pulled him up. He had double underhooks and I love being in overhooks. I’m big in Greco. He tried to step around and I just threw my hips in and he just went over. I could tell fighting off his back took a lot out of him so I knew I could break him after that,” Brancale said. “It felt like he took a shot. Unlike the first shot, I felt like I did a good job of defending and downblocking that one and just ran him over with my hips to his back. Luckily I had it really tight.”
Suddenly, the once deafening roar of the crowd became deafening silence. And all the momentum was squarely in the Golden Gophers’ corner.
“You could have heard a pin drop in Carver. It’s not supposed to be that way,” Evans said. “When you get wing-dinged, you’re supposed to get right back up and keep wrestling. You saw Gilman do that. He got up and got a takedown right away. The guy started wing-dinging him again and he let it happen. First of all, you can’t get wing-dinged. Second of all, you can’t get wing-dinged twice. That definitely hurts the momentum. On paper you’re looking at a win.”
“It happens and then you come right up off your back it’s 6-3. Then you go to your back again. That’s what’s bizarre. It happens, but it shouldn’t happen out there,” Brands said. “He got caught and he got caught again. How many times does that happen? I don’t know what the odds are. That’s why it’s silliness.”
Iowa won three of the next four matches before Ness stunned the crowd again. Trailing St. John 3-2 with St. John holding riding time advantage, Ness caught St. John in an elevator, turning St. John to his back in a five-point move with 26 seconds left for a 7-4 victory which once again left Carver-Hawkeye Arena silent.
“It was almost a do-or-die move right there towards the end. Time was running out. There was less than 30 seconds. He had riding time, so I knew I had to get at least three points so I just went for it,” Ness said. “Every time he rides he goes for that left ankle and that would leave my right leg free. Kind of do what you’re told not to do when you are a kid — reach back. That’s what I did. I got situated with the whipover. I sat to my butt and kicked him over my other leg.”
“Because he’s Ness. How is Superman able to fly? I don’t know. It’s not something that you can coach. It’s something that he has an ability to do that. He has an ability at any time to do what he did today. That’s why he’s so dangerous,” Robinson said of the move Ness used.
“I think St. John thought he was going to get the back points because he felt the guy going, so he kind of go for it a little bit. That’s when his hips come up and the guy scoots under you and you’re in the elevator and you’re in trouble. You don’t go there. It’s dangerous. You don’t go there,” Brands said.
Top-ranked Schiller finished the Hawkeyes off with a dominating 16-5 major decision over ninth-ranked Nathan Burak at 197.
“Schiller is a great example of diligence. He’s very methodical,” Robinson said. In essence he’s a work horse. He’s got tremendously powerful hips, but he’s also got some really good things that he does well on his feet.”
While Evans and heavyweight Bobby Telford came up with big wins against their long-time nemesis, the knockout blow had already ben scored.
“I think those kind of wins are important. Nelson and Storley are kind of nemesis to us and they have a few wins over both of us. Regardless of whether the team is winning or losing, you have to go out there and win for your team and win for yourself,” Evans said.
“It’s a big win. It’s big for me and Mike. It’s that time of year. It’s Big Ten time of year. Every match is a Big Ten match. That said, you know what the Big Ten is and what the Bib Ten is all about. There were some chinks in our armor today. It’s Big Ten wrestling time. This is the second-most important time of the year. Then it’s postseason time. That’s every wrestler’s most important time for me,” Telford said.
No. 4 Minnesota 19, No. 2 Iowa 15
125 — Sam Brancale (M) pinned Thomas Gilman, 2:03. 133 — Tony Ramos (I) dec. David Thorn, 6-2. 141 — Josh Dziewa (I) dec. Chris Dardanes, 1-0. 149 — Nick Dardanes (M) dec. Brody Grothus, 5-3. 157 — Dylan Ness (M) dec. Derek St. John, 7-4. 165 — Nick Moore (I) dec. Danny Zilverberg, 3-2. 174 — Mike Evans (I) dec. Logan Storley, 2-1 (TB1). 184 — Kevin Steinhaus (M) dec. Sammy Brooks, 8-6. 197 — Scott Schiller (M) maj. dec. Nathan Burak, 16-5. Hwt — Bobby Telford (I) dec. Tony Nelson, 3-1 (SV1).
Minnesota 8-1 overall (5-1 Big Ten Conference), Iowa 11-2 (4-1).