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A Week of Wrestling Is Looking Back at Iowa and Ahead to Ohio State

A Week of Wrestling is one fanboy’s thoughts on the wrestling week that was and those that will be.

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This is Kung Fu Panda’s Master Oogway, founder of the Valley of Peace. He’s wearing a custom singlet crafted by Penn State alumnus Ross Bendik of The Foundation for Wrestling Art & Innovation, to bring awareness to the multitude of ways that Wrestling embodies both modern creators and ancient wisdom. You can also follow Ross’ fun work on twitter @WrestleChicago.

Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.

There have been many versions of this quote throughout history, but as a huge Kung Fu Panda fan, I like to attribute it to the venerated founder of The Valley of Peace, Master Oogway. In the first movie, he introduces the quote with a brief admonishment to Po which is deeply related to the popular wrestling concept of surrendering the outcome: “you are too concerned with what is and what will be.” I figure it provides a nice framework for blogging about wrestling.

Yesterday is History

With BSD Wrestle’s SWHA in the mix to do recaps, I’m going to give this column a fresh college try. There’s been a lot of great action since last I published one of these back in November.

Fyre Duals

#1 Penn State 23, #2 Iowa 14

In some ways, this dual was similar to the 2022 PSU-Michigan dual, in which there were a ton of super-tight bouts. Look at that box score! 7 of 10 bouts were decided by 3 points or less.

While you’re looking, peep the takedown data. 8 Hawkeyes (including Spencer Lee) posted takedown goose eggs, while 5 Nittany Lions did the same.

What story does that tell us? From SWHA’s BSD recap:

This match went about as in the middle as it could’ve gone. Penn State didn’t dominate, Iowa didn’t keep it as close as they could have. And yet it was a little disappointing.

Coach Cael agreed. He’s quoted here by Intermat Big Ten Correspondent, Lauren Muthler:

It was kind of a slow match. A match like that gets great ratings and a lot of people are hyped about it. Unfortunately, they’re not the most exciting if people aren’t flying around a lot. So, hopefully, it was still a great event for the spectators and for the TV audience. That’s what I would think more about. Good job guys not giving up takedowns, but wrestling’s got to be exciting.

Iowa are the best hand fighters in the country. They came to hand fight and reduce PSU scoring, and they executed that gameplan. Lots of Nittany Lions got sucked into that battle and didn’t get their shots off. Starocci stood out most.

In the preseason Allstar Classic, he tried 4 different shots against the great Mekhi Lewis. Lewis thwarted all of them, but it took all his skill, and Starocci twice had hands around a leg.

Against Nelson Brands, Starocci chose to brawl.

I get it; he’s a fighter and he wanted to fight, especially against a reputed brawler like Brands. But I remain curious what he’s capable of in neutral with a different strategy in a rematch.

As for takeaways, Cael added:

We’ve got to go back and look at some of those matches. I think we’ve got some young guys in some tough situations against some experienced wrestlers - some good wrestlers. Iowa’s good, their coaches are very good. They’re very tactical and they come in with a strong gameplan, so we’ll just get better and learn from those experiences. We’ve got to get off the bottom. We’ve got to be able to clear ties and get an angle on a shot.

Like everybody, we’ve always got something to work on and Iowa always does a good job of showing you what you need to work on.

One of the many things to remember about this particular matchup between these two teams, is that it’s only round one of this season. Layers upon layers of scouting and strategy are at play here and, in many weight classes, this was only the first of a probable 3 face-offs before the season ends.

Next time around, can Bartlett get a shot off against Woods? Will he try to?

Will Van Ness & Starocci attempt more from space? Facundo thwarted some deep shots against Kennedy; can he get in on a leg himself?

Can Kerkvliet keep the focus and poise, which went missing against Parris, against Cass? I think I know better than to ask for something different from Dean vs Warner, but anything can happen, right?

Until the next time, Hawkeyes!

A few other recaps for your reading pleasure:

Virginia Tech 16, NC State 15


While Penn State was dismantling Michigan in the BJC on January 20, this fyre dual was taking place in Blacksburg, in the Hokies’ Cassell Coliseum. For a full re-tell, you should check out Robbie Wendell’s recap at Intermat:

It is difficult to put into words how incredible this night was for ACC wrestling. Rivalry dual. Top-10 teams. 20 ranked wrestlers. Upsets. Sudden victory galore. The return of All-American Bryce Andonian in a top-10 showdown. Round six of Hidlay-Bolen. And to cap it off, the upset of a top-10 wrestler by a hometown kid is what iced the dual for the Hokies. This has become a must-watch matchup every year, and I am glad I was there to see the spectacle in person.

Most years, this dual determines the winner of the 6-team ACC regular season. But as Robbie notes at the end there, the Hokies welcomed “a feisty Pitt team” into Cassell the following weekend, where this happened.

Pittsburgh 26, Virginia Tech 12


Following those two duals loosely from afar got me curious about conference standings, and I remembered our old friend Jason Bryant charts all D1 conference standings at the almanac section of his Mat Talk Online site.

Here’s what the ACC looks like at present:

via Mat Talk Online

I recommend giving that site a browse. It helps us learn which wrestling teams compete in which conferences, and prompts fun questions like: with Lehigh falling so far behind, can U Penn hold off Cornell for the EIWA title?

Ohio State 23, Michigan 15


I found this result surprising. I get that, aside from Parris, Michigan’s upperweights are overmatched, and I know Sasso’s a handful for their 149-pound backup, but I guess I thought the Wolverine lowerweights wouldn’t get blanked. Taking only 3 dubs against their hated rivals, with one of them being Amine’s surprising pin in overtime, has got to really sting for this proud Top-10 program.

Ohio State’s big weekend began with a tough matchup against TTUN. Save for a lopsided loss at the hands of No. 1 Penn State, the Wolverines had dominated other Big Ten opponents and were no doubt looking to defend their home mat inside the Crisler Center. But the Buckeyes rolled up on their rival with bad intentions and jumped out to a huge lead — one which they would not surrender.

It was Friday night and I could feel the tension building in the gym. Warmups were taking place with a special kind of intensity. The athletes are drilling their favorite takedowns, communicating with their partners to get the feel that they want, and trying to iron things out before the competition begins. This is all rather impressive, especially when you consider they’re 10U Novice wrestlers. I was at my son’s dual meet, so I didn’t get to watch The Dual until after that was finished. I made sure that I could stay off of Twitter though, because I was not about to spoil what I figured would be a really close dual, when I thought I would be able to keep from hearing about the results before watching them.


NWCA Coaches Dual Rankings, via

For the time being, Ohio State joins Iowa & NC State as the only one-loss teams in D1, and sadly, the Bucks & Hawks doth not duel this season. Although, the Hawks do battle with Minnesota, Michigan and Oklahoma State, and the Buckeyes still get to face Nebraska and Cornell. NC State’s lone remaining test is versus Pitt.


There’s a wrestler for Northern Colorado who drew a lot of attention for his dirty wrestling this week. On Friday, January 27, Baylor Fernandes, a 4th-year Sophomore who is 16-9 this year for the Bears, was penalized for an illegal move in the first period of his 165-pound bout against South Dakota State’s Tanner Cook. After the penalty, with Cook shaking his injured elbow, SDSU Coach Damion Hahn decided to keep Cook from returning, and the bout resulted in an Injury Default loss for Fernandes.

The videos, via South Dakota Wrestling Scouting Report Twitter, are pretty gross. Part 1 here. Part 2 here.

After the SDWSR account tweeted the videos from the UNC-SDSU bout, the comments & replies showed that Fernandes has a long history of attempting to injure. One example video here. And three examples here.

The Northern Colorado program has been on the rise lately (our friends at the Bloodround podcast have been vocal fans), and after the incident, a number of fans wondered how Coach Troy Nickerson would handle Fernandes. He benched Fernandes in their next dual, on Sunday, January 29, against Cal Baptist (a 31-6 Bears victory), but it will be an interesting story to follow as this season trudges along.

After watching those videos, I’d like to know: how would you handle that situation?

Tomorrow is a Mystery

A few of my favorite duals this weekend...

Friday, February 3:

#1 Penn State at #4 Ohio State

Ohio State’s only loss this season was to UNI, back in December’s Collegiate Duals: 19-13, when the Buckeyes were without Gallagher & Kharchla. I didn’t do so well in my lone attempt at predictions this year (vs Iowa, I had SVN & Facundo winning over Murin & Kennedy, and Starocci majoring Brands), so I’ll leave the predictions to my far-more-accurate colleague, Cari.

But Ohio State is one of only three teams who can realistically threaten to win as many as 5 bouts against this Nittany Lion lineup in a dual meet this year (Iowa & Iowa State being the others). Like those other teams, however, everything would have to fall in place for the Buckeyes to do so.

Heinselman & Sasso are favored, but to get those other 3 bouts, they’ll need Gallagher and Kharchla to both win, and then hope for the match of a lifetime from one of D’Emilio or Hoffman or Smith or Romero. It’s a big, big ask.

Some other notes:

#6Michigan vs #12 Oklahoma State, Bout at the Ballpark, in the Texas Rangers’ Globe Life Field Stadium

Sunday, February 5:

#25 Penn at #5 Cornell

WrestleStat’s comparison tool predicts a 28-3 Big Red blowout, but only Heavyweight by Bonus. Penn State saw last season how hard the Quakers fight, and all the accounts out of #PhillyWrestling indicate the program is on the rise. Even if they don’t quite yet have the necessary horses to unseat this established Cornell team with some top-level firepower, it’s gonna be fun to watch them measure themselves. Should be a very fun dual.

Tomorrow’s Mystery Links

I’m hoping to refine this section and include more links in the future, but for now, check out Earl’s list of ranked matchups this weekend.

Today is a Gift

You know we’re big fans of Ross Bendik around here; I’ve long been a fan of how he continues to innovate while giving back to the community. Check out this latest announcement from him:

Do we have any aspiring artists or creators in our mix, who could benefit from some of Ross’ teachings? Shoot him a DM, and let us know what transpires!

Be well, and take care of each other, friends.

As always, I invite feedback of all flavors. Please feel free to engage in the comments below or on twitter @JpPearson71. Also please consider bookmarking this link to BSD Wrestle’s Home.