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  • Photo: Sam Janicki

    Photo: Sam Janicki

    Five B1G Takeaways from Week One (11/7/2023)

    We rolled out the mats and it was all about that action again…finally.

    The 2023-24 season kicked off and we already had the biggest upset of the year. We also saw an incredible comeback story come full circle, the new scoring in full effect, Iowa’s brand new (possibly temporary) new look and so much more. So let’s get to the five (well, six) things from week 1 that had our attention.

    Peyton Robb back on the mat (I’m not crying, you’re crying)

    As we all know, Peyton Robb had a hell of an off-season where he had to fight off his toughest opponent since that breathless battle with Jacori Teemer in the consolation semifinals of the 2022 NCAA Championships. Robb was hospitalized after the NCAA tournament in Tulsa, OK last year with a life-threatening infection in his leg. But he’s recovered and is back to action, playing the role of the tail end of an incredible duo with top-ranked Ridge Lovett back in the lineup this year. Once Brock Hardy joins the lineup it’ll be a 3-headed monster at 141-149-157. But Robb was fantastic in his season debut with an 18-3 tech over North Dakota State’s Landon Johnson.

    Illinois comes up short against Navy

    Coach Poeta’s crew came out on the losing end against Navy last weekend. The Fighting Illini had some bright spots with true freshman Kannon Webster made a huge debut with a 20-5 tech over James Latona. They also got wins from Justin Cardani at 125, Joe Roberts at 157, Edmond Ruth at 174, and Luke Luffman at heavyweight, who had the team’s only bonus point win. Both Cardani and Ruth needed overtime. Missing from the lineup was two-time All-American Lucas Byrd at 133. Byrd has yet to make his season debut and it’s clear that they definitely miss him already this year.

    Buckeyes looked great at Clarion

    I should provide a little bit more context. I consider 7 finalists to be good. Technically, they only had 4 champs in Dylan D’Emilio (149), Paddy Gallagher (157), Rocco Welsh (174), and Nick Feldman (HWT), but they’d have another if teammates Jesse Mendez and Brandon Cannon hadn’t agreed to a no contest in the finals at 141. Where things get a bit weird is at 174 where Welsh was the champion with Kharchla taking 4th. Carson had injury defaulted out after the quarterfinals, so we hope he can recover quickly, but the Buckeyes have a solid option in Welsh if they have a “break glass in case of emergency” moment.

    I’m giving my B1Ggest Win award to Paddy Gallagher this week. He dominated his way through the Clarion Open by way of major decision, major decision, tech fall, tech fall, and capped it off with another major decision in the finals. Results are great, but he looked more like the Gallagher that we expected to see last season. He was decisive with his attacks, punishing with his defense, and tough on top. He looked every bit like the guy advertised before the season started, and who Buckeye fans hoped to see last season. He’ll be tested right away as the Buckeyes travel to Blacksburg to take on #4 Virginia Tech this Friday. Gallagher vs Bryce Andonian (both St. Ed’s grads) should be a great match to watch for any and all.

    Boilermakers looked good at Clarion

    Good is not great, but it’s still good. Expectations are important here. Based on preseason rankings, Ohio State was expected to look great, compared to Purdue’s good, and that was how it looked in PA. The upside, seven placewinners is good for a young team. Stoney Buell took third at 165, along with teammate Cooper Noehre at the same weight placing fifth. Redshirt freshman transfer James Rowley took fourth at 184, along with freshman Brody Baumann placing fifth at 174. Baumann’s only real loss was to the eventual champion, the aforementioned Rocco Welsh of Ohio State. Another upside is true freshman Joey Blaze placing 5th at 157. He looked great in his first college tournament with his only loss coming against Pitt’s Jared Keslar, currently ranked 30th at 157. Downside, Matt Ramos dropped a match to Marcus Blaze a high school junior.

    Now that’s not exactly fair to leave it at that. Marcus is a super accomplished prospect, and just won a World Championship this summer at the U17 age group, so the dude has talent. This isn’t really how this is supposed to work, but it’s tough to not reward Blaze with the B1Ggest Upset of the Week award for that. Don’t think any other number-one-ranked wrestlers lost, so this is the one. That’s not ideal to have your top-ranked wrestler go down that quickly, but another positive note is that it might not matter because he still might be the best wrestler in college at that weight. Time will tell. Next up the Boilermakers wrestle this Saturday and Sunday at WrangleMania against Army and NC State.

    Hawkeyes show Terry that he in fact knew what he thought he knew

    Like many others, we expected to watch Iowa beat Cal Baptist and that’s no shade against CBU, because it’s always great to get early season tests and to get some excitement going for a program. You probably look at that as a loss on the schedule before the matches are wrestled. What we weren’t sure of was what some of the “fill-in” Hawkeyes were going to look like. We expected wins from 125 through 165, and that’s what we got. Of note, Michael Calliendo looked awesome. Relentless attacks, physical, tactical, mobile, hostile, and agile. He is going to be an interesting addition to the B1G at 165.

    Caliendo also takes the B1Ggest Move award with some action from the second period of this dual. He gets hit for stalling while up 10-3 and on top, so they restart. De La Pena gets out and with just under a minute takes a nice shot and gets in deep on a high crotch. Caliendo cuts the corner perfectly and switches from a crotch lock to isolating De La Pena’s left leg, elevating it, and making it his own leg attack. That quickly turns into him sitting his opponent on his butt and collecting the double leg for 3. Just such a smooth way to make sure he could keep attacking from a defensive position. I shoot, I score, you shoot, I score.

    Before we move on, I want to share a Terry Brands quote from after the dual for context as to why this section has that title: “I learned that we have a room full of competitors. I learned that what I thought I knew, I knew.” I love it when anyone, including myself (especially myself) proves themselves right. The real questions were at 174 and heavyweight for me, and both Aiden Riggins (174) and Bradley Hill (HWT) answered those questions to the tune of major decisions. You expect there to be talented and adequate depth coming out of the Hawkeye crew, but this confirmed that assumption. In the end, the toughest part of this trip might have been the travel. However, Iowa will have a better test coming up next as they take on the Beavers of Oregon State on Sunday 11/19.

    Bonus Point:

    TWOOOO ✌️Becomes Threeee 👌

    Snap, fake, shot [insert wrestler name] FOR THREEEEE! The new rules and scoring were in full effect for the first time and coaches, wrestlers and fans everywhere had to fight the urge to call with the traditional calls of twoooo with a pair of fingers raised to the sky or just transition to using a new hand symbol and call after going with the original one. Obviously, there’s nowhere near enough of a sample size to assess the new changes, but so far it looks like a move in the right direction.

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