TheMat com Dual of the Week Iowa at Oklahoma State

By John Fuller | Jan. 09, 2003, 12 a.m. (ET)
Iowa at Oklahoma State
Jan. 12, 2003 Gallagher-Iba Arena Stillwater, Okla.
Oklahoma State and Iowa are the two most storied programs in college wrestling history. The two programs have combined for 50 NCAA team titles. So it is fitting that these two will lock up as the top two teams in the nation. Going into this weekend's dual, Oklahoma State is ranked No. 1 while Iowa is ranked No. 2. This is a redemption dual for Iowa. Coaches feel that they gave the meet away last year in Iowa City, losing 21-15. The Hawkeyes lost third-period leads in two matches in the dual. For Oklahoma State, this is the dual that could prove that they are the best team in the nation. The Cowboys seem to have the most balanced lineup in the country with eight wrestlers ranked in the top 10 in the nation. On the road, the Hawkeyes are not as good as they are at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. With the football season over, expect the bumblebees to swarm into Gallagher-Iba Arena in hopes that their Hawkeyes can perch atop the NCAA podium once again. Rankings are from Division I Coaches Individual Poll 125 - #3 Luke Eustice (Iowa) vs. #6 Skyler Holman (Oklahoma State) Eustice is the defending NCAA runner-up, but he is coming off a huge loss in the Midlands finals. That loss could affect him in one of two ways. He could either be more motivated than ever, or he could lose a lot of confidence and question himself. Being an Iowa wrestler, expect Eustice to be very motivated coming into this match. At the Midlands, Eustice gave up a lot of takedowns. He was not sharp on his feet at all, and it cost him a major match. Holman must continue to see if this is a trend. These two met twice last year, with Eustice winning 3-1 and 3-2 decisions. Holman needs to be more aggressive, but at the same time, not take bad shots. If he can exploit Eustice's weakness on his feet, Holman may be able to come out on top of this match. If Holman stays timid and plays a defensive game with Eustice, it is not to his advantage. That was proven twice last year. Holman has never faced Eustice with a large home crowd behind him. That may be enough to push him over the top in this match. Prediction: Holman 133 - #7 Cliff Moore (Iowa) vs. #2 Johnny Thompson (Oklahoma State) Last year, Thompson pinned Moore in this matchup and the way that both wrestlers are going right now, there is no reason to believe that a pin by Thompson can't happen again. Moore has not been able to find an offensive rhythm yet this year. His main problem is that he does not wrestle a full seven minutes. That is how he got pinned by Thompson last year after leading most of the way through the match. Moore has seemingly taken steps backwards this year and his performance has hurt this team at times, but if he continues to wrestle poorly, it will destroy this team against the top-ranked Cowboys. Thompson, as usual, is still not in the best shape in the world. That was evident last weekend in Minnesota. But this is nothing new for "the snake." He has a good single-leg, but his eye is always on the pin, a rarity in college wrestling these days. He may have trouble catching Moore this year for a pin, but Thompson may put him to his back at least once. Moore needs to avoid the tie-ups and take good shots. It is the quality, not the quantity, that will be important in his offense. If Moore is careless in his shots, he may end up on his back. Prediction: Thompson 141 - #12 Luke Moffitt (Iowa) vs. #2 Zack Esposito (Oklahoma State) Both Moffitt and Esposito are pinners, which could make this an interesting battle. Moffitt likes to use an inside-trip to get his opponents. He is good in tie-ups but his mat wrestling, especially from the bottom, is suspect at best. Moffitt will want to keep this match in the neutral position as much as possible. It doesn't necessarily favor Moffitt, but it gives him the best chance to win. Esposito also likes to use the tie-up. He gets frustrated when he can't, but so does Moffitt. The thing that is scary about Esposito is that he doesn't know how to lose confidence in a match. Twice this season he has been thrown to his back in five-point moves. In both matches, he ended up with the pin. This is the best freshman to come around since you know who, though it is still way too early to compare him with Cael Sanderson. Esposito's constantly attacking style helped him destroy Moffitt earlier this season in a six-minute match without riding time. Moffitt may score a big strike in this match, but he has to be careful not to try to sit on the lead. If he does, Esposito will surely score on a big throw of his own. Prediction: Esposito 149 - #15 Ty Eustice (Iowa) vs. #6 Jerrod Sanders (Oklahoma State) Eustice has been up and down this year, but he is still young and learning. He is quick and athletic, but he likes to roll around the mat with his opponents. He seems to always come out on top in scramble situations, which makes him so dangerous. Iowa coaches agree that Eustice has grown up this season. Sanders is a smart wrestler. He is not the best athlete on the mat in this match, but he doesn't take bad shots. So far this season, he has done what he has been expected to do: win. But, Sanders is notorious for his second-half fallouts every year. He was dominated last weekend against defending NCAA champion Jared Lawrence, and that may have been enough to spiral him backwards. Sanders normally does not get caught in scramble situations but when his confidence gets low, he begins to get caught in his opponents game. Eustice will use the first period to set up the rest of the match. There could be some fireworks in the second and third periods, which plays right into Eustice's hands. Eustice does not have the high ranking that Sanders does, but he is just as good. A win by the Iowa freshman would be only a mild upset. Prediction: Eustice 157 - Joe Johnston (Iowa) vs. #4 Shane Roller (Oklahoma State) Johnson, a talented freshman, gets his second shot as a starter at 157 this year. His arrival will be much better for this lineup in the long run. Johnston has a short and stocky build, making him very tough to score on. It also makes it very tough for him to score on his opponents. He reminds many Hawkeye fans of a young Matt Lackey. Iowa coaches finally realized that the only way Johnston can be the wrestler they felt he could be when they recruited him was to get him into the lineup. Roller's funky style may be a perfect match for Johnston. Roller loves to be on the mat, but it is a lot tougher to get shorter opponents into a lot of scramble situations. Roller has been inconsistent this year, losing some questionable matches before dominating defending NCAA champion Luke Becker last weekend. Roller was able to take control by getting Becker sucked into scramble situations. When Roller shoots, Johnston will want to sprawl and use a front headlock, not try to underhook. If Johnston uses underhooks, Roller will be able to get into scramble mode which could pose big trouble for Johnston. Many are looking for a major decision here, but if Johnston wrestles a smart match, the final result could be a lot closer than Cowboy fans expect. Prediction: Roller 165 - #9 at 157, Matt Anderson (Iowa) vs. #2 Tyrone Lewis (Oklahoma State) Anderson has moved up in weight to help this team. He was beginning to struggle again with cutting down to 157. Anderson did wrestle at 165 two years ago, wh