Much like Iowa State & Northern Iowa did at the Grand View Open Vs NAIA competition, the University of Iowa drove up to Decorah to show NCAA Division III competition what NCAA Division I is all about. Lots unfolded at the small tournament hosted by Luther. Let's take a look.
|Drake Ayala Dominates 125 lbs Bracket|
Well what else would you expect from a wrestler who stands a good shot at winning an NCAA DI title before his collegiate career is all said & done? The Hawkeye just murderlized the competition, including a 19-3 technical fall over teammate Joey Cruz in the finals. Looking at this bracket strictly from the NCAA DIII side of things, I suppose what stuck out most was Akhil Vega of Stevens 5-0 victory over Derek Steele of Augsburg. Vega was an NCAA D3 qualifier all the way back in 2020 & Steele was an Upper Midwest Regional Champion in 2022.
|Rhodes On The Road To Victory At 133|
I'm not always crazy of how the brackets are set up at these types of tournaments, having the semi-final wrestlers wrestle for 3rd, while the consolation bracket can only work its way back to 5th. If you take a look at Dom Mallinder of UW-Whitewater, who won a Upper Midwest Regional title last season, he finished in 6th place. Yet, I don't think it's reflective of his standing compared to the other D3 competition in this bracket. His only two losses were both to University of Iowa wrestlers.
That aside, I was a little surprised that Brody Teske threw his street clothes back on after wrestling a couple of matches, defaulting out of the rest of the tournament. This left Jace Rhodes to duke it out with Jesse Ybarra to essentially see who would win the tournament. Rhodes squeaked by with a 1 point victory.
Bryce Parke of Coe who was at 141 lbs last year, finished in 2nd place as two time NCAA DIII qualifier Luke Hoerle of Stevens finished in 3rd with a win over Trevor Hodges of Eureka. I personally would like to see what would happen between Parke, Horele and Mallinder had the three competed against one another. The way the bracket was drawn up, they finished where they did after facing Hawkeyes.
|Fortugno Upsets Southeast Regional Champ To Win 141 lbs Title|
In one of the only weights not dominated by Iowa, Justin Fortugno of UW-Whitewater scored an impressive 8-6 decision of Nico Diaz of Stevens. Both wrestlers ironically enough were at 133 lbs last season, Diaz winning a Southeast Regional Title.
|Iowa Displays The Incredible Depth They Have At 149 as Stuhl Wins Consolation Bracket|
An NCAA Division III All American last season, Charlie Stuhl of Augsburg placed 5th.
|DI All American Over DII & DIII|
Former Bison now Hawkeye, Jared Franek displayed his immense skill as he defeated Augsburg's Blake Jagodzinske 17-2 technical fall in the semi-finals & Mankato State's Caleb Meunier 21-7 in the finals. Jagodzinske was a backup to three time NCAA DIII All American Tyler Shilson last season, but showed that he himself could contend for AA honors this season. Meunier was one match shy of NCAA DII qualification last season, and will contend for qualification this season.
|Iowa Shows DI Dominance As DIII Gains Huge Victory Over DII|
It can sort of mess with your head when you really think about it. The Iowa lineup is extremely tough. It always has been. It always will be. Breaking through, to call yourself a varsity starter is a lot harder than people sometimes realize. Drake Rhodes isn't cracking the lineup this year. A 20-4 technical fall loss in the finals proves that. So as the season progresses, he'll watch Mikey Caliendo (or possibly Patrick Kennedy depending on how things progress) in all the glory, fighting for various credentials & accomplishments as he gets lost in the shuffle of various Hawkeye backups. Yet here at the Luther Open, he defeated NCAA Division II champion Chase Luensman of Upper Iowa 1-0. It just goes to show how incredibly tough & competitive it can be.
After suffering a 13-3 loss to Caliendo in the semi-finals, Cooper Willis of Augsburg, who was 5th at the NCAA DIII championships last season, scored a huge 13-7 decision over Luensman to capture 3rd place.
|Iowa Redshirt Dominates DIII All American In Finals at 174|
Don't mean to reiterate over and over again, but the story of this year's Luther Open once again repeats itself. Gabe Arnold, fresh outta high school dominated last year's Luther Open Champion/NCAA DIII All American Seth Goetzinger of Augsburg 11-3 in the finals. On a side note, I can't help but wonder how many Iowa's roster over the years have been from down south. I'm sure Arnold isn't the first wrestler Iowa has had on their roster from Georgia, but when I stop and think about it, I can't come up with any off the top of my head. East coast, Midwest, occasionally nab one out West, but how often do you see someone from the Southeast in Hawkeye uniform?
|Swafford Takes Out DIII All American As DIII Once Again Wins Big Over DII|
This whole gambling situation has the whole wrestling world, especially Iowa Hawkeye fans in an uproar. A lot of concern and worry on the part of the black & gold about what the future might hold. I'll grant them that at some weights, there probably is something to worry about. Not here though. Not at 184 lbs. I think even if the circumstances didn't currently exist, that Brennan Swafford might very well be our man come BIG 10's/NCAA's. I think the former two time NAIA champion is proving that he has stepped it up & he's a contender among the top 12-15 in NCAA DI. I think he might even prove to be within the top 8 by season's end. He had his way with NCAA DIII competition this weekend. Bentley Schwanebeck-Osterman of Augsburg is a three time NCAA DIII All American. One who may very well challenge for the DIII title by year's end. Swafford defeated him 14-5 in the finals. He also picked up a 20-4 tech over Kasey Ross of Wartburg in the semis.
Speaking of Ross, he transferred from UW-Platteville to Wartburg this season. He scored a very impressive 15-0 technical fall over DII All American Colter Bye of Upper Iowa. I keep illustrating the vast difference between DI and all of the other Divisions, but maybe the gap isn't as wide between DII & DIII. Don't know, but these few examples makes one wonder.
|Zach Glazier Wins 197 lbs|
|It Ain't All Iowa|
I've gone on and on about the vast differences between DI & DIII competition, & here to shut me up for a minute is Tyler Kim of Augsburg. The Three time All American who has thus far finished 2nd-4th-3rd, hopes to end his career an NCAA DIII champion. He won a Luther Open title last season & despite having to go through two Iowa Hawkeyes to do it, he won another title this past weekend. After majoring Gage Marty 9-1 in the semis, he defeated Brad Hill 2-1.