The Iowa wrestling program opened the 2011-12 season in a big way on Saturday, claiming seven of the 10 championships at the Joe Parisi Wrestling Open on the campus of Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri.
The Hawkeyes, who also had several wrestlers compete unattached, dominated a field that included No. 9 Missouri.
The seven champions were junior Matt McDonough at 125, sophomore Tony Ramos at 133, senior Montell Marion at 141, freshman Brody Grothus at 149, sophomore Derek St. John at 157, redshirt freshman Mike Evans at 165 and redshirt freshman Bobby Telford at heavyweight.
Twenty wrestlers from the University of Iowa finished in the top three of the 10 weight classes. Patrick Rhoads also was fourth at 157 as the Hawkeyes swept the top four spots at that weight.
McDonough continued to rack up the pins, recording four more on his way to the 125 finals. In the finals, he beat Neosha Community College’s Jeff Vesta 7-1 to claim the title. McDonough now has 27 career pins.
Ramos earned a pin, two technical falls and a major decision before facing senior teammate Tyler Clark in the 133 finals. Ramos lost to Clark in the recent wrestle-offs in Iowa City but got the better of Clark on Saturday, winning 4-1 to claim the championship.
Clark picked up two majors, one pin and an overtime win before placing second to Ramos in the weight class.
Marion again will be one of Iowa’s toughest wrestlers to beat this season and he showed it Saturday by going 5-0. He recorded three majors and beat teammate Nick Trizzino, 4-1, in the finals. Both Marion and Trizzino are Iowa natives with Marion coming from Des Moines and Trizzino growing up in Bettendorf.
The Hawkeyes took the top three spots at 141 as junior Mark Ballweg placed third. He lost his first-round match but then won six straight to get back in the top three.
At 149, Grothus won the tournament wrestling as an unattached competitor. The freshman out of Davenport, Iowa, bested Missouri’s Kellen Nounous in the finals. Redshirt freshman Jake Ballweg placed third, while Dylan Carew won his first match before withdrawing from competition. Grothus, Ballweg and Carew are all native Iowans as well.
The Hawkeyes took the top four spots at 157, led by St. John, who is expected to compete for the national championship this season. St. John used four bonus-point wins to get to the finals and then beat teammate Joey Trizzino 10-1 in the championship to claim the hardware.
Trizzino was second, redshirt freshman Michael Kelly was third and Rhoads placed fourth in the dominating weight class for Iowa.
Evans and redshirt freshman Nick Moore will be battling at 165 pounds all season for Iowa. On Saturday, Evans again got the better of Moore, a four-time Iowa high school state champion.
Evans went 5-0 with three pins and beat Moore 3-0 in the final. Moore went 4-1 on the day with two pins and a major decision.
The Hawkeyes did not claim titles at 174, 184 or 197, but another Hawkeye climbed the podium in the heavyweight class.
Telford, a redshirt freshman, again got the better of Iowa senior Blake Rasing in the championship match. This time, Telford won 1-0 . He had three pins and win by decision before wrestling in the championship.
Rasing went 4-1 on the day with two pins. He also is the defending Big Ten champion and NCAA qualifier last year.
Iowa sophomore Ethen Lofthouse was second at 174 pounds. He went 4-1 on the day and lost to Missouri’s Pat Wright in the championship match. The same can be said for redshirt freshman Jeremy Fahler, who was second at 184. He went 3-1 on the day but lost to Missouri’s Clarence Neely, 6-3, in the championship.
Tomas Lira did not finish in the top two of his 197-pound weight class but he had an impressive run nonetheless. Lira lost his opening round match 7-6 but then rolled off six straight wins by way of a technical fall, four pins and a major decision to take third place.
Iowa’s returning All-American at 184 pounds, Grant Gambrall, did not wrestle for the Hawkeyes.
The Hawkeyes will next hit the mats Friday when they host the Iowa City Duals at Carver Hawkeye Arena. They will put their 77-match unbeaten streak on the line against Baker University at 3 p.m., Cornell College at 5 p.m. and Iowa Central Community College at 7 p.m.