By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – A different result from one match wouldn’t have changed the final outcome between Iowa and Northwestern on Sunday.
But it certainly would’ve put a damper on the Senior Day festivities afterwards if Brandon Sorensen had lost his much-anticipated match at 149 pounds.
Sorensen instead edged fifth-ranked Ryan Deakin 5-4 in overtime to highlight third-ranked Iowa’s 33-2 victory over No. 17 Northwestern on Senior Day at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Iowa won nine of 10 matches and improved to 6-2 in the Big Ten and 11-2 overall, while Northwestern fell to 3-4 and 8-4.
Sorensen was trailing 4-3 when he earned one point for an escape late in the third period to force overtime.
“I knew I could get out and just exploded off the bottom,” Sorensen said. “
The overtime session didn’t last long, though, as Deakin was penalized for grabbing Sorensen’s head gear. That resulted in one point for Sorensen and the victory.
The Northwestern coaches protested the call, but after reviewing the tape, it was ruled that Deakin had grabbed Sorensen’s head gear.
“He pulled on the head gear,” Sorensen said. “I guess that’s what led to the win.”
The soft-spoken Sorensen was the only senior who wrestled for Iowa on Sunday. So imagine the mood if he would’ve lost his first match of the season on Senior Day.
To win by a technical violation isn’t the same as winning with a takedown or an escape, but it’s still winning and that is all that matters.
Sorensen improved his record to 18-0 on the season and protected his No. 2 national ranking.
“It’s not like this is the end all,” Sorensen said. “We’ve got bigger things coming in March. That’s my goal. It’s always fun to come out and perform in front of these fans. So that was awesome one last time. But we’ve got bigger things ahead of us.”
Iowa coach Tom Brands said after the dual that the official was right to enforce the rule about grabbing the head gear. Brands wants the officials to be more pro-active in enforcing the rules.
“You can’t grab the head gear,” Brands said. “These referees, they’ve got to start calling things that are illegal or it’s going to go on and on and on and it hurts our sport.
“Grabbing head gear, thumb in the eyes, grabbing toes and yanking them out, you want to do that, make it legal and then we’ll coach it because we know how to do that stuff. I know how to do that stuff, but we don’t coach it and we don’t teach it at Iowa.”
Heralded freshman Spencer Lee improved his record to 12-1 by defeating Northwestern’s 10th-ranked Sebastian Rivera 7-4 at 125 pounds. But Lee wasn’t that impressive by his incredibly high standards.
He led 6-0 after the first period, but then lost his aggressiveness in the final two periods as fatigue appeared to be a problem.
“I think he has more than he’s showing out there,” Brands said of his prize freshman.
There was an eerie silence during Lee’s match after he stopped attacking and scoring points in the second period.
Fans seemed stunned that Rivera was able to ride Lee for the entire second period. But Rivera hardly was a slouch with a 20-2 record entering the dual.
Lee scored his only point after the first period on an escape in the third period. But Rivera was clearly the aggressor during the final two minutes of the match, scoring a takedown in the closing seconds of the third period.
Unranked sophomore Paul Glynn then drew one of the loudest cheers of the dual when he scored a takedown in the finals seconds of the third period to edge 20th-ranked Colin Valdiviez 3-2 at 133 pounds.
Vince Turk, another unranked sophomore, kept the momentum on Iowa’s side as he recorded a 10-2 major decision over Alex McKenna at 141 pounds.
Turk earned four points for Iowa and that expanded the lead to 10-0 heading into the showdown at 149 pounds between Sorensen and Deakin.
Sorensen kept the momentum going by almost literally escaping with the victory.
He then received a loud ovation from the fans as he was introduced after the dual, along with fellow seniors Phillip Laux and Logan McQuillen.
Lee spoke about Sorensen’s influence after the dual.
“I’m going to miss him a lot,” Lee said. “I was only here a year with him, but he’s literally the model of what you want to be in this program. If you want to be the best in this program, you’ve got to follow what Brandon Sorensen does,
“It almost makes me emotional because he’s such a great leader. Obviously, the season is not over yet, but the last home dual means a lot. We’re family.”
Tom Brands also had high praise for Sorensen, both on and off the mat.
“He is what we want our guys to be,” Brands said of Sorensen, who graduated from Cedar Falls High School. “He puts his head down and goes to work every day. There has been zero, zero distractions with him. And when I say zero, I mean zero.
“You don’t worry about him in the offseason. If there’s a break, you know he’s still training and is just a solid, solid individual.”
Redshirt freshman Alex Marinelli also stayed undefeated on the season with a 23-8 technical fall over Michael Sepke at 165 pounds.
Second-ranked Michael Kemerer also won by technical fall at 157 pounds, while Mitch Bowman recorded a 9-1 major decision over Mitch Sliga at 184 pounds.
Iowa expanded the lead to 30-2 with Cash Wilcke's 8-4 victory over Zack Chakonis at 197 pounds.
The dual ended with Iowa's third-ranked Sam Stoll defeating Conan Jennings 2-0 at 285 pounds.
Iowa will face defending national champion Penn State in its final Big Ten dual next Saturday in University Park, Pa.
Sorensen will be matched against top-ranked and two-defending national champion Zain Retherford in that match.
"It's coming towards the end of the season and these are a lot of the guys that we're going to see at the Big Tens and nationals," Sorensen said. "So wrestle them and then we can make adjustments and move forward, too."
Iowa 33, Northwestern 2
125 – Spencer Lee (I) dec. Sebastian Rivera, 7-4
133 – Paul Glynn (I) dec. Colin Valdiviez, 3-2
141 – Vince Turk (I) maj. Dec. Alex McKenna, 10-2
149 – Brandon Sorensen (I) dec. Ryan Deakin, 5-4
157 - Michael Kemerer (I) tech. fall Shane Oster, 17-2 in 3:11
165 – Alex Marinelli (I) tech. fall Michael Sepke, 23-8
174 – Johnny Sebastian (NA) dec. Kaleb young, 9-4
184 – Mitch bowman (I) maf. Dec. Mitch Sliga, 9-1
197 – Cash Wilcke (I) dec. Zack Chakonis, 8-4
285 – Sam Stoll (I) dec. Conan Jennings, 2-0