Defending NCAA champion Spencer Lee won by major decision at 125 pounds (Photo/Mark Lundy, Lutte-Lens.com)
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The Iowa-Iowa State rivalry used to be the best in college wrestling.
But for the past decade and a half it hasn't been much of a rivalry.
The Hawkeyes had won 14 straight duals over the Cyclones entering Saturday's matchup and hadn't lost to ISU since 2004.
The rivalry is back on now.
The No. 23 Cyclones threw a huge scare into the fourth-ranked Hawkeyes by winning four of the first six matches and nearly pulling off a dramatic finish in the final bout.
But Iowa recovered, bolstered by a last-second comeback win by Jacob Warner, to escape with a 19-18 win over ISU before 9,751 fans Saturday afternoon at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Iowa dodged a huge bullet when ISU's Austin Gomez threw No. 10 Austin DeSanto to his back late in their 133-pound match and nearly scored a pin.
DeSanto fought off his back before the No. 14 Gomez, a highly touted freshman, prevailed 14-9. A Gomez pin would've given ISU the victory in the dual meet.
"I think a lot of coaches get out of the frying pan and just move on," said Iowa coach Tom Brands. "But I can tell you there is no feeling of relief up here. We need to shape up and move forward in a lot more ways than just one."
Each team won five matches in the closely contested dual meet.
"I thought we fought hard. You don't like losing and we let one slip by," ISU coach Kevin Dresser said. "We came in to win -- we talked about it all week. We came up short, but I loved the fight of the 10 guys that we put out there. That's what we preach and that's what we coach. We also preach winning. We didn't win, so there's a part of me that's not going to sleep very well tonight. I'm excited about this team and the direction Iowa State is heading."
Warner trailed 4-3 late in his 197-pound bout against three-time All-American and Iowa native Willie Miklus. But Warner scored a dramatic last-second reversal to earn a 5-4 win over the Missouri transfer as the raucous Carver crowd erupted.
"I thought I wrestled all right," said Warner, who made his collegiate debut. "I think there is more I could have done at the end of the match. At the end of the day I got it done. It was a little too close for comfort, but I'll watch some film and move forward."
Top-ranked Sam Stoll won 5-1 over Gannon Gremmel (Photo/Mark Lundy, Lutte-Lens.com)
Top-ranked teammates Sam Stoll (285) and Spencer Lee (125) followed with wins to give Iowa a 19-15 lead entering the final bout. Lee won by major decision, piling up 11 first-period points before beating Alex Mackall 13-4.
Stoll wasn't expected to wrestle as he is still not 100 percent physically, but with the Hawkeyes trailing that changed. And he made his season debut.
"I had no intentions on going, but it's hard not to when we are losing a big dual like that," Stoll said. "I ran out there and Tom met me in the middle. He said, 'I don't want this, you're not going.' I told him it was my last 'State Week' and he gave me a good slap in the face and I went."
Iowa State (1-1) is a team that clearly is much-improved under second-year head coach Kevin Dresser.
The unranked Cyclones rallied for wins in the dual's first two matches as ISU grabbed an early 6-0 lead.
Ian Parker of Iowa State kicked off the dual by rallying from a 4-1 third-period deficit to stun No. 16 Max Murin 5-4 at 141 pounds. Parker spun behind Murin in the final seconds to complete the comeback.
No. 12 Jarrett Degen of Iowa State then came from behind to score a 7-4 win over No. 11 Pat Lugo at 149. The match was tied 4-4 at the end of regulation before neither wrestler scored in sudden victory.
The tall, lanky Degen then rode Lugo out in the first 30-second tiebreaker before scoring an escape and takedown to clinch the victory.
"Our guys train hard and they're tough," Dresser said. "When you do that, you can win close matches. Those guys came out and won two big matches for us to start the dual."
No. 13 Kaleb Young of Iowa followed by taking control early in an 8-3 win over Chase Straw at 157. Fourth-ranked Alex Marinelli of Iowa followed with a fall at 165 to ignite the packed house at Carver.
Marinelli rolled up eight quick points on his way to overpowering Brady Jennings with a second-period fall.
"Every single dual meet, I try to get bonus points for my team, whether it's a major, a tech or a pin," Marinelli said. "I knew this dual meet would be electric and that I had to have bonus points. Every week, I try to pin my guy and last week it didn't happen. This week it did and I'm pretty pumped about it."
Iowa freshman Myles Wilson came out strong and led 4-3 before having to default his match after being injured against Marcus Coleman of Iowa State at 174 pounds.
Wilson was in the lineup after two-time All-American Michael Kemerer was lost for the season at 174 with a knee injury.
ISU took a 15-9 lead in the dual when unranked Sam Colbray knocked off No. 11 Cash Wilcke 7-6 at 184 pounds.
Iowa has now won 30 of its last 31 duals against ISU, but the gap between teams clearly has narrowed with the strong Cyclone performance Saturday.
It was the first time in 83 meetings the dual was decided by a single point, but that one point favored the Hawkeyes.
Losing third period leads didn't sit well with the Iowa head coach.
"We have to be better in the third period," Brands said. "We're moving forward and have another one coming to town. Lehigh is going to see this and chomp at the bit. We have to regather and I have to make sure we are communicating with these guys. There is a lot of communication that needs to happen with several people."
141: Ian Parker (ISU) dec. No. 16 Max Murin (IA), 5-4
149: No. 12 Jarrett Degen (ISU) dec. No. 11 Pat Lugo (IA), 7-4 TB1
157: No. 13 Kaleb Young (IA) dec. Chase Straw (ISU), 8-3
165: No. 4 Alex Marinelli (IA) pinned Brady Jennings (ISU), 4:45
174: Marcus Coleman (ISU) injury default Myles Wilson (IA)
184: Sam Colbray (ISU) dec. No. 11 Cash Wilcke (IA), 7-6
197: No. 11 Jacob Warner (IA) dec. No. 5 Willie Miklus (ISU), 5-4
285: No. 1 Sam Stoll (IA) dec. Gannon Gremmel (ISU), 5-1
125: No. 1 Spencer Lee (IA) major dec. Alex Mackall (ISU), 13-4
133: No. 14 Austin Gomez (ISU) dec. No. 10 Austin DeSanto (IA), 14-9
Craig Sesker has written about wrestling for more than three decades. He's covered three Olympic Games and is a two-time national wrestling writer of the year.