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TheMat.com weighs in with its predictions for the Iowa-Iowa State dual

TheMat.com weighs in with its predictions for the Iowa-Iowa State dual
Craig Sesker USA wrestling

As someone who is an Iowa native – my parents grew up just outside Ames and I grew up near Iowa City – I have great memories from watching Iowa wrestle against Iowa State.

My earliest memories came when Iowa still wrestled in the old Fieldhouse, where I watched Hawkeyes like Randy Lewis, Ed and Lou Banach, Chris Campbell, Bruce Kinseth and Bud “Rocky? Palmer compete under legendary coach Dan Gable.

I remember watching Cyclone greats like Nate Carr, Jim Gibbons, Mike Land, Kelly Ward and Frank Santana wrestle for a Hall of Fame coach in Dr. Harold Nichols.

The late 1980s battle between Iowa’s Royce Alger and Iowa State’s Kevin Jackson was one of the best matchups that I remember. Another one that I vividly recall is when Carr bumped up a weight class and was soundly defeated by Iowa’s Jim Zalesky, in a battle of national champions, in the early 1980s.

The upcoming Iowa-Iowa State dual, set for Saturday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, has the potential to be one of the all-time classics in this series. Iowa is ranked No. 1 and Iowa State is No. 2. Iowa hopes to attract 16,000 fans and break the all-time attendance record. As of Thursday morning, 13,500 tickets had already been sold for the dual.

Iowa has a huge edge in the all-time series, but there still has been some great drama and excitement when the two in-state rivals meet. With Olympic champions Tom Brands of Iowa and Cael Sanderson of Iowa State College now leading these two great programs, you can expect another great battle.

These teams used to wrestle each other twice each season, and it would be great to see that happen again someday. They could meet again at the National Duals in early January. That would be a treat for the fans as well.

Just for fun, here are my predictions for what I think will happen on Saturday night in Iowa City:

125 – No. 2 Charlie Falck (Iowa) vs. No. 5 Tyler Clark (Iowa State)

This should be a lot better match than people think. Clark is much-improved and earned a spot in the NCAA tournament last year as a freshman.

Falck is off to a strong start in his senior season and the two-time All-American should control this match.

Sesker’s pick: Falck by decision

133 – No. 11 Daniel Dennis (Iowa) or No. 1 Joey Slaton (Iowa) vs. No. 5 Nick Fanthorpe (Iowa State)

Dennis or Slaton? That is the biggest question mark heading into this meet. Slaton was an NCAA runner-up last year, but Dennis is very tough as well.

Dennis has wrestled the majority of matches this year for Iowa as Slaton was bringing his weight back down to 133.

Iowa State’s Nick Fanthorpe finished seventh in the country last year, after bumping up to 133 from 125. Fanthorpe brings it for seven minutes and is known for pushing the pace.

Whether it’s Dennis or Slaton, this could be one of the best matches of the dual.

Sesker’s pick: Fanthorpe by decision

141 – No. 3 Alex Tsirtsis (Iowa) vs. No. 2 Nick Gallick (Iowa State)

Gallick is coming off a big win over national champion J Jaggers of Ohio State at the all-star dual. Gallick finished strong last season with a fifth-place finish at the NCAAs.

Gallick is a dangerous wrestler, with a number of big moves that are tough to stop.

Tsirtsis, an All-American in 2006, is back in the lineup after redshirting last year. One of the nation’s best recruits coming out of high school, he looks like he may finally live up to that after a fast start to his senior season.

This should be another very tight match.

Sesker’s pick: Gallick by decision

149 – No. 1 Brent Metcalf (Iowa) vs. No. 6 Mitch Mueller (Iowa State)

This dual is expected to be decided by bonus points, and this is where Iowa can pick up some additional points.

Metcalf, a returning NCAA champion, has dominated Mueller in the past. But Mueller has shown improvement this season.

Metcalf loves big stages like this, and expect him to put on another show like he did when he beat North Carolina State’s Darrion Caldwell by technical fall at the all-star match.

Sesker’s pick: Metcalf by technical fall

157 – Matt Ballweg (Iowa) vs. No. 6 Cyler Sanderson (Iowa State)

Speaking of bonus points, Iowa State could add some extra team points here in a matchup of an All-American in Sanderson against an unranked, first-year starter in Ballweg.

Sanderson is another Cyclone who can put big points on the board. He also made major strides after bumping up a class last year.

Ballweg, 6-2 this year, grew up in Iowa and is well aware of the significance this dual carries.

Sesker’s pick: Sanderson by major decision

165 – No. 9 Ryan Morningstar (Iowa) vs. No. 3 Jon Reader (Iowa State)

Morningstar turned in a big win in this dual two years ago in Iowa City when he beat Trent Paulson, who went on to win an NCAA title that season.

Morningstar is looking much stronger this year after moving up a weight class.

Reader, a sophomore, is off to an 8-0 start after being an All-American last year.

Sesker’s pick: Morningstar by decision

174 – No. 2 Jay Borschel (Iowa) vs. No. 8 Duke Burk (Iowa State)

Borschel made a huge splash in his first season as a Hawkeye starter, placing third at the NCAAs.

This will be an interesting matchup with Borschel facing Burk, a veteran who transferred to ISU from Northern Illinois.

Borschel lost a close match to Michigan’s Steve Luke in the all-star dual while Burk is 2-0 this season.

This may be a close, low-scoring battle.

Sesker’s pick: Borschel by decision

184 – No. 3 Phil Keddy (Iowa) vs. Jerome Ward (Iowa State)

Keddy is heavily favored here against Ward, a freshman who is a top prospect for the Cyclones.

Keddy looks to have taken his game up yet another level this year and will look to score bonus points here.

Sesker’s pick: Keddy by major decision

197 – Luke Lofthouse (Iowa) vs. No. 1 Jake Varner (Iowa State)

Varner, a two-time NCAA runner-up, looked very good in scoring a lopsided win over All-American Hudson Taylor of Maryland in the all-star meet. The powerful Varner has moved up a weight class and looks very strong at 197.

With Iowa starter Chad Beatty out with an injury, Varner has a chance to turn in a dominant performance here.

Iowa has three possible starters listed in its lineup at 197, but look for past starter Luke Lofthouse to take the mat.

Sesker’s pick: Varner by major decision

285 – No. 13 Dan Erekson (Iowa) vs. No. 2 David Zabriskie (Iowa State)

Zabriskie was an All-American last year and will be in the mix to win the national title this season.

Erekson, a former 197-pounder, is off to a 7-0 start at heavyweight.

This could be closer than you might think.

Sesker’s pick: Zabriskie by decision

That makes it five wins for Iowa and five wins for Iowa State. The Metcalf match gives the Hawkeyes a one-point dual win.

Then again, Varner may win by fall and that would change the outcome.

But I’m sticking with my picks.

Final score: Iowa 18, Iowa State 17

Again, these picks are just for fun. It should be a great dual, involving two great teams, with an unbelievable atmosphere expected at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. It’s obviously great for wrestling to have this many fans watching these great athletes compete.