UNIVERSITY?PARK - One of the things that was very apparent in Iowa's 22-13 win over top-ranked Penn State Saturday before packed Rec Hall is that Iowa, despite its No. 8 ranking and the tie against Oklahoma State that broke the winning streak, is still Iowa.
And that's more than what most college wrestling teams can handle.
The Nittany Lions certainly weren't ready for what the Hawkeyes bring to the mat every time they step on it.
That the Hawkeyes have isn't flashy. They gave up points grudgingly. If you want to score points on them, you have to go at them aggressively and try different things because they're not going to give it up easily.
When Andrew Long needed to get a takedown against Tony Ramos, he couldn't get it. When Frank Molinaro and Ed Ruth needed to come up with a point for major decisions in their respective matches, they couldn't find a way to do that.
"I feel like our guys are doing what they need to do," Iowa coach Tom Brands said.
The Hawkeyes stayed in good position for the most part on the bottom. They didn't give up any nearfall points from the bottom. The only back points they yielded came off of an Andrew Alton throw of Montell Marion.
"They're just tough kids," said Penn State coach Cael Sanderson, who is now 0-5 coaching against Iowa. "It's tough to turn a good wrestler. You've got to be creative. You've to be mean. They're obviously well-coached. They know what they're doing."
Ask a Penn State wrestler and you'll get a different perspective.
"I think they did a great job of not doing anything on bottom honestly," 157-pounder David Taylor said. "It's hard to turn guys when they won't do anything. In Frank's match, the guy [Mark Balweg] lied on his stomach. In my match, the guy [Derek St. John] lied on his hands and knees."
The Hawkeyes seemed like they outconditioned the Lions in some of the weights, particularly in Marion's come-from-behind 11-9 win over Alton and Ruth's 10-3 win over Ethan Lofthouse.
"They're not in better shape than we are," Sanderson said. "But tonight you wouldn't know that."
Rec Hall was electric before the match. Fans were clad in their white for the white-out, and many had to stand on the track. The student section started a regular wave and a slow-moving wave. Every Penn State shot or anything positive brought a roar from the crowd.
"It's awesome," Sanderson said. "We couldn't ask for anything more, The support was incredible. We wish we could have put on a better showing obviously. I would think it's going to take us awhile to get that back, especially after tonight, but that's just how it is."
While it was a great environment, the Lions might have gotten too caught up in the moment.
"I think so," Sanderson said. "That's just part of the learning process. You have to be able to channel the energy, [and it was like that] the whole week probably. I was trying to protect them from that. It's something I need to do differently because you could see they weren't themselves.
"We weren't ourselves a week ago either [against Pitt], so we just have to get in the rhythm and keep wrestling as a team that's trying to climb the mountain."
"It's disappointing not only to yourself, but we're also letting down 8,000 people that came out to watch the match," Molinaro said. "They're proud about Penn State, and that's what we show them. That's not what we are. We're tougher than that at all 10 weight classes."
The atmosphere might have intimidated lesser opponents coming into Rec Hall, but the Hawkeyes feed off of that excitement, Brands said. Not too far from the Iowa corner, by the way, fans held a sign that said "Sit down Brands" any time he stood up.
"Remember, we wrestle in a great wrestling facility as well," he said. "So enemy arenas and home arenas are the same when you have this kind of energy. We get crowds like this quite a bit, so it's a good show."
It just wasn't a show that Penn State would like to watch again.
Todd Irwin can be reached at 946-7464 or at firstname.lastname@example.org