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  • Photo: Photo/Mark Lundy

    Photo: Photo/Mark Lundy

    Iowa at Rutgers Preview & Predictions

    Iowa's Brandon Sorensen is ranked No. 2 and coming off a win over Eric Barone of Illinois (Photo/Mark Lundy, Lutte-Lens.com)

    Based on coach Tom Brands' comments following his team's one-point victory over No. 15 Illinois, it seems like No. 7 Iowa has embraced this season as a pseudo rebuilding year. Even if that is true, it does not mean that other teams will stop trying to knock off the storied program. On Friday, No. 19 Rutgers gets that chance in front of their home fans at the Rutgers Athletic Center, known affectionately as The RAC. The following is a weight-by-weight preview of the dual meet. The lineups are a prediction of each team's best squad.

    125: Justin Stickley (Iowa) vs. No. 2 Nick Suriano (Rutgers)

    While the number-one recruit from last year's class sits on the bench, Stickley has been responsible for holding down 125 so far this season for the Hawkeyes. After grey shirting last year, he has gone 5-3 so far this year. However, his record against Division I competition is only 2-3 with one of those wins coming over teammate Perez Perez.

    In his first reason for Rutgers after transferring from Penn State, Suriano has been totally dominant. He has gone 8-0 with six bonus-point victories. He has already knocked off a pair of ranked wrestlers: No. 17 Christian Moody (Oklahoma) and No. 10 Louie Hayes (Virginia).

    It is pretty clear who is coming out on top in this matchup. The only question is how many bonus points Suriano will be able to get on the board for his team. Considering his prowess in the standing portion of the match, a technical fall would be a safe bet.

    Prediction: Suriano (Rutgers) tech fall Stickley (Iowa)

    133: Phil Laux (Iowa) vs. No. 13 Scott DelVecchio (Rutgers)

    Last season, Laux filled in for eventual NCAA champion Cory Clark in a few duals and went 10-8 overall. So far this season, he has gone 6-1 with his only loss coming against No. 20 Dylan Duncan (Illinois). At the Iowa City Duals, he defeated No. 1 (NJCAA) Todd Small (Iowa Central).

    DelVecchio is a two-time NCAA qualifier and finished in the round of 12 last year. So far this season, he has gone 4-0, but he has not faced a ranked opponent yet. In his last match, he scored a decision victory over DJ Fehlman (Lock Haven).

    Over the course of his career, DelVecchio has picked up a pair of victories over Laux. In the 2015 season, he won 10-3 in a dual meet. The two met in the Midlands last year. Delvecchio won by decision again, but Laux closed the gap to 8-6. The Rutgers wrestlers should be able to get to legs and score points consistently.

    Prediction: Delvecchio (Rutgers) dec. Laux (Iowa)

    141: Vince Turk (Iowa) vs. Mike Van Brill (Rutgers)

    Iowa fans have been hoping that Turk is the answer at 141 for two years now. Last season, he completed only one match before his season ended due to injury. So far this season, he has gone 3-2, but he has dropped back-to-back matches against Tyson Dippery (Rider) and Mike Carr (Illinois). In his last match against Carr, he gave up three first-period takedowns, but he had a chance to tie it at the end. He ended up losing 7-5.

    Van Brill has been filling in for No. 5 Anthony Ashnault who has been out with an injury to start the year. There is some speculation that Ashnault could be back for this match, but nothing has been announced at this point. Van Brill has started the year 5-3 with two of his losses coming against Kyle Shoop (Lock Haven). In the opening dual of the season, he nearly knocked off No. 12 Ryan Diehl (Maryland) but lost 10-9.

    This could turn out to be a pretty important bout for the team score. Going into the season, many Iowa fans would consider Turk to be the favorite. However, considering the way both wrestlers have looked this season, Van Brill should be able to score takedowns and pull out the victory here.

    Prediction: Van Brill (Rutgers) dec. Turk (Iowa)

    149: No. 2 Brandon Sorensen (Iowa) vs. No. 13 Eleazar DeLuca (Iowa)

    The returning NCAA runner up has started his senior year with a bang. Sorensen has begun this season with five-straight wins. He won his first four bouts via bonus before taking a decision over Eric Barone (Illinois) in last week's dual.

    DeLuca's year began with a three-match winning streak before dropping a decision against No. 13 Ronnie Perry (Lock Haven) last week. He transferred to Rutgers last year after representing Northern Colorado in previous seasons. In 2016, he placed fourth at the Big 12 Championships.

    Sorensen should be able to take care of business here. The Hawkeye coaches would probably like to come out of this match with some bonus points, but DeLuca might be able to keep to close.

    Prediction: Sorensen (Iowa) dec. DeLuca (Rutgers)

    157: No. 3 Michael Kemerer (Iowa) vs. No. 8 Richie Lewis (Rutgers)

    Last season, Kemerer went 33-3 and finished third at the NCAA tournament. His only losses came against No. 1 Jason Nolf (Penn State) and Dylan Palacio (Cornell). So far this season, he has gone 5-0 with wins over No. 15 Clayton Ream (North Dakota State), No. 14 Kyle Langenderfer (Illinois) and No. 8 BJ Clagon (Rider).

    Lewis has only wrestled one college match this season, but he recently made his mark on the international scene. At the U23 World Championships, he took home an unlikely gold medal in the 70-kilogram division. In his only college match this season, Lewis scored a major decision over Kyle Cochran (Maryland).

    Since Lewis missed most of last season with injury, these two have never wrestled before. Before Lewis' U23 gold, most people were probably sure that Kemerer would handle this match. The Iowa wrestler is still the favorite, but Lewis can make a case for himself to be a contender for top three in the weight with a win.

    Prediction: Kemerer (Iowa) dec. Lewis (Rutgers)

    165: Alex Marinelli (Iowa) vs. John Van Brill (Rutgers)

    Per a report from Hawk Central, Marinelli will finally make his Iowa dual meet debut. After coming in as a top recruit, he spent last year as a redshirt. So far this season, he has sat out with an injury. The Hawk Central article says that the injury is a torn meniscus, which is much less severe than some of the rumors. Over the summer, Marinelli reached the finals of the junior nationals tournament with a win over No. 4 David McFadden (Virginia Tech). In the finals, he fell to No. 2 (at 174) Mark Hall.

    Van Brill filled in for Lewis at 157 last season. He placed seventh at the Big Ten Championships and qualified for the NCAA tournament. So far this season, he has gone 2-2. In his last match he fell via major decision against No. 8 Chance Marsteller (Lock Haven).

    Iowa fans can finally exhale. Marinelli will finally step on the mat as a Hawkeye. He should be able to dominate this match on the feet and put up some points. After this match, everyone will have a better idea where Marinelli is with his injury.

    Prediction: Marinelli (Iowa) dec. Van Brill (Rutgers)

    174: Joey Gunther (Iowa) vs. Jordan Pagano (Rutgers)

    There were not a lot of expectations around Gunther last season, but he ended up going 20-10 and qualifying for the NCAA tournament. So far this season, he has gone 5-0, but he has not faced the toughest competition. In his last match, he defeated David Riojas (Illinois) in a bout that could have been the swing match in the dual meet.

    Pagano was also an NCAA qualifier last season. He started this season with three-straight losses, but he has bounced back with solid performances at the Black Knight Invitational and the Mat Town Open. In his last match, he defeated Corey Hazel (Lock Haven) in sudden victory.

    This match will probably come down to one or two moves. Almost all of Gunther's offense comes off of his underhook. It allows him to control the pace of the match and move his opponent around the mat. This should give him the advantage in a close match.

    Prediction: Gunther (Iowa) dec. Pagano (Rutgers)

    184: Mitch Bowman (Iowa) vs. No. 9 Nick Gravina (Rutgers)

    Bowman bounced around and wrestled at three different weights last year. This season, he gets the chance to start at 184 for at least the first semester. So far this season, he has gone 4-1 with his lone victory coming via 5-3 decision against No. 12 Emery Parker (Illinois).

    Gravina is a two-time NCAA qualifier who almost broke through to become an All-American last year, but he lost in the round of 12. This year he has won all four of his matches. In his last match, he defeated Tristan Sponseller (Lock Haven).

    Against Parker, Bowman showed that he can keep it close against a ranked wrestler. However, he has not been able to pick up any wins that would make it seem like he has a chance against Gravina. The Rutgers wrestler should be able to take this match in a close decision.

    Prediction: Gravina (Rutgers) dec. Bowman (Iowa)

    197: No. 10 Cash Wilcke (Iowa) vs. Kevin Mulligan (Rutgers)

    Wilcke moved up to 197 last year and finished one match short of All-American status as a redshirt freshman. He is back this year and has won all five of his matches. He needed to go to sudden victory against Andre Lee (Illinois) to pull out the decision.

    Mulligan did not end up wrestling in Rutgers' last match against Lock Haven after the team bumped up Gravina. He should get the start here. So far this season, Mulligan has gone 7-3. In his last action, he finished third at the Black Knight Invitational.

    These two met in the consolation bracket of the Midlands last year. Wilcke took that match with a 6-2 decision. He should be the favorite the pick up another victory on Friday.

    Prediction: Wilcke (Iowa) dec. Mulligan (Rutgers)

    285: No. 7 Sam Stoll (Iowa) vs. Razohnn Gross (Rutgers)

    Stoll is back at heavyweight for Iowa after back-to-back seasons were ended due to injury. He has looked sharp to start the season with five wins and four falls. In his only bout to go to decision, he scored an overtime-victory over No. 20 Jake Gunning (Buffalo). In his last bout, Stoll picked up a fall in the final match to put the Hawkeyes over Illinois by a point.

    Gross has had a solid start to the season. He is 8-3, but all three of his losses have come against ranked wrestlers. He lost to No. 10 Youssif Hemida (Maryland) in the season opening dual meet and then dropped a pair of matches against No. 13 Thomas Haines (Lock Haven).

    If this match comes down to heavyweight, Iowa fans have to feel good that Stoll will be there. He already came through in the clutch once with a dual on the line. While Gross is solid on the feet, he has struggled on the bottom at time. Stoll rides tough and has the ability to turn wrestlers at this level.

    Prediction: Stoll (Iowa) fall over Gross (Rutgers)

    Dual Meet Prediction: Iowa 21, Rutgers 14

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