MADISON - The final numbers on the Kohl Center scoreboard were anything but pretty.
On the surface, it appeared that No.2 Iowa systematically disassembled the host Badgers 31-3 in a Big Ten dual on Friday night.
The Hawkeyes won nine of 10 matches and led wire-to-wire in eight of them.
But Wisconsin head coach Barry Davis viewed the night’s proceedings from a different point of view. Make no mistake, he wasn’t trying to write off an ugly defeat. The veteran head man simply took the time to point out the progress he saw from many of his wrestlers.
“If you look at certain matches, I can see things coming. We’re just not quite there yet in certain areas,” Davis said. “Overall you say yeah, look at the scoreboard. I know that. But as a coach, I’m seeing gains that maybe the average fan can’t. Yeah, you can look at the score, but I have to look at what guys are doing. The angles they are trying to create. Those types of things.”
Iowa (11-0, 5-0 Big Ten) took at 12-0 lead after the first three matches. That setup the night’s premier bout: No.4 Cory Clark and No.7 Ryan Taylor of Wisconsin at 133 pounds.
Clark held a 2-0 advantage after the opening period, a score which held through the second. He notched five points in the final two minutes to earn a 7-3 victory.
Taylor fell to 1-2 in minimal action this season as he works his way back from an injury. According to Davis, the redshirt junior has only gone through limited training until recently.
“Cory Clark threw everything at him,” Davis said of Taylor. “Great, he knows that. Two weeks is not enough to be out there. I mean, you are going to go out there and compete, but a couple weeks of training doesn’t get you where you want to be yet. He understands that. He’s communicating. That’s good.”
Davis knows Taylor will continue to build stamina and he spends more time in training as well as live matches.
“To go out there with only two weeks of training, it’s difficult to do,” Davis said. “If he is continuing to do what I say, continuing to communicate and being consistent, he’s going to gain that ground right now. ”
Wisconsin’s lone win came courtesy of No.3 Isaac Jordan (165 pounds) who improved to 15-0 on the year with a 6-1 triumph over Patrick Rhoads.
“Today, getting that first takedown in the first period was big because that forced him, because his down a point, to come to me,” Jordan said. “That opened my stuff up and it all worked out. I found out in the first minute that he wasn’t really committed to his attacks, so I waited for his half-shot. He set himself up to where he hit his half-shot and it opened up my single-leg.”
Though the remaining bouts didn’t go in Wisconsin’s favor, there were some close calls.
At 141 pounds, Gabe Grahek made his dual meet debut in favor of Luke Rowh, who has been the Badgers’ starter for the majority of the season.
Grahek dropped a 4-2 decision to Iowa’s Topher Carton.
“He’s been hurt, but he wrestled at Midlands,” Davis said. “We figured we owed him a shot. Next week, I think we’ll have both guys (Grahek and Rowh) ready to split matches out east and we’ll see what happens from there.”
Andrew Crone dropped at 6-3 decision to No.2 Brandon Sorenson at 149.
UW’s Rickie Robertson took No.9 Alex Meyer to the brink in a narrow 1-0 defeat.
“Is it tough to lose like that? Yeah,” Davis said. “But, at the same time, you have to think of what he did and what is happening. You still have to get back up, say a positive to him in the room, help him work on his skills and get in a better position for March. So that’s what we’re going to do.”
Though Davis saw some of his athletes make some strides, he also saw some unsettling trends.
“One thing we can’t do, we can’t give guys two-on-ones and their ties,” Davis said. “We have way too many guys giving up positions and ties way too early. Like Brock (Horwath), he can’t be getting taken down in 15 seconds. TJ (Ruschell) can’t get taken down in five seconds. Those are things you just can’t do. Now, you’re on the bottom for two minutes and 45 seconds and that takes a lot out of you that way. So we have to be ready to go off the whistle.”
With the loss, the Badgers fall to 1-4 overall and 0-3 in the Big Ten.
UW also drops to 0-2 all time in matches at the Kohl Center. Though things didn’t go as well as he would have liked, Davis was thankful his wrestlers got the chance to wrestle in front of a season-best crowd of 2,571 fans.
“It was great. People at UW, Shane (Burgess) and those guys did a fantastic job,” Davis said. “I really appreciate that. I wish we had some better results, but it was a great atmosphere for the fans and a great atmosphere for our guys. The people at UW do a fantastic job. It’s like one big family and I appreciate that.”
Wisconsin will head east for a dual against No.6 Rutgers (11-2, 2-1) on Friday before tangling with Maryland (4-7, 1-4) on Sunday.
“I’ll be talking with guys and making sure they are thinking the right way,” Davis said. “Then we’ll be off for the East Coast trip. You have Rutgers, there are some ranked guys right there. Maryland is the same thing. The guys could win some tight matches out there. Guys like Brock, if he can win some matches out there, it could put him in position to go to the NCAA Tournament. Every match is important.”
No.2 Iowa 31, Wisconsin 3
197: No.3 Nathan Burak (Iowa) maj. dec. Eric Peissig, 20-7
285: No.8 Sam Stoll (Iowa) dec. Brock Horwath, 4-1
125: No.2 Thomas Gilman (Iowa) tf. Johnny Jimenez, 23-7
133: No.4 Cory Clark (Iowa) dec. No.7 Ryan Taylor, 7-3
141: Topher Carton (Iowa) dec. Gabe Grahek, 4-2
149: No.2 Brandon Sorenson (Iowa) dec. Andrew Crone, 6-3
157: Edwin Cooper, Jr. (Iowa) dec. TJ Ruschell, 8-2
165: No.3 Isaac Jordan (WIS) dec. Patrick Rhoads, 6-1
174: No.9 Alex Meyer (Iowa) dec. Rickie Robertson, 1-0.
184: No.8 Sammy Brooks (Iowa) maj. dec. Ryan Christensen, 14-6.
Photo credit: UW Athletics, David Stluka