Zalesky Touts Improvement in Loss

Jan. 7, 2006

IOWA CITY — Carver-Hawkeye Arena just didn’t have two upsets in her Saturday.

After the men’s basketball team downed No. 6 Illinois earlier in the day, the Hawkeye wrestling squad had to settle for improvement despite some close calls.

Iowa coach Jim Zalesky needed to see that progress out of his wrestlers Saturday night when they played host to top-ranked Oklahoma State.

He got that, but the seventh-ranked Hawkeyes still fell, 18-14, in front of 8,157 fans inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

“I liked the way they fight and I like the guys’ attitudes,” Zalesky said. “They’re not hanging their heads. When they get beat they’re asking how they can get better, and that’s what you want out of team.”

Undefeated senior Ty Eustice, who’s ranked second in the nation at 149, picked up his first victory against top-ranked Zach Esposito in a 4-2 decision to cut the Cowboy lead to five late the meet.

And Joe Johnston sliced the OSU advantage to one point after his 25-11 major decision win over Kevin Ward in the 157 weight class.

At 149, Eustice and Esposito have met twice before in dual meets with Esposito winning, 4-1 in 2004 and 2-1 in 2005. Eustice took the 2006 edition with a takedown with 34 seconds remaining in the third period.

“We’ve wrestled Esposito three times now and it’s always been close,” Zalesky said. “It’s always been a hard fought match. We finally got a takedown. I don’t know if we’ve ever got a take down against Esposito before. You’ve got to get a takedown against him.”

The Hawkeyes (3-1) got out to a 7-0 lead after the first two matches of the night.

Sophomore Mark Perry picked up Iowa’s first win at 174, with a 13-0 major decision over freshman Brandon Mason. Perry capitalized on a six-point second period that included two near-falls.

Senior Paul Bradley followed it up with a 2-1 win over senior Rusty Blackmon at 184 thanks to a near-fall in the first period.

But Iowa dropped five in a row after and trailed 15-7 going into Eustice’s match.

The turning point came when Oklahoma State’s Coleman Scott scored a takedown with 45 seconds left in the third period to tie his match at 125 against Lucas Magnani, 3-3. Riding time gave the No. 7-ranked sophomore a 4-3 win and pushed OSU out to a 9-7 lead going into intermission.

“I think it was just one of those things where we kind of let it get away from us,” Zalesky said. “I like (Magnani’s) aggressiveness. You can’t fault that, but you’ve got to be smart about how you’re doing it.”

The comeback win was just what OSU coach John Smith needed.

“When you never stop wrestling, you can get that takedown,” the coach said. “You’ve got to do that on the road. When you’re on the road you’ve got to have some things happen that work for you.”

OSU improved to 6-0 on the year and stretched its dual winning streak to 25 meets.

Iowa wrestled two freshmen against the Cowboys in Dan Erekson at 197 and Daniel Dennis at 133. Dennis lost 14-9 to No. 6-rated Nathan Morgan, a sophomore. Erekson lost 10-6 to Jake Rosholt, a second-ranked senior.

“You’ve got to make progress. They’re the team to beat and we know that. For us to be successful you’ve got to keep improving. We’ve got to keep working on it and they know that.”
Head Coach Jim Zalesky

Erekson tied on a takedown to end the first period, 4-4 and edged to within one point, 7-6, with 50 seconds to go in the third. A Rosholt takedown and riding time gave the senior the win.

“We know from the room that he was going to give us his best fight and give us a chance to win,” Zalesky said. “He wanted to go. He fights hard.”

Zalesky said the series against Oklahoma State has traditionally been hard. The defending national champions won last year’s matchup, 26-12, in Stillwater, OK. The Cowboys lead the series 22-16-1.

“You’ve got to make progress,” Zalesky said. “They’re the team to beat and we know that. For us to be successful you’ve got to keep improving. We’ve got to keep working on it and they know that.”

Barry Pump,