IOWA CITY, Iowa — No wrestling programs nationally carry as much tradition as Iowa and Oklahoma State, and the two nonconference foes reignite their rivalry at 3 p.m. CT Sunday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
The No. 7-ranked Hawkeyes (8-0) are young and somewhat rebuilding, although Iowa wresting fans are almost allergic to that word. The No. 3 Cowboys remain one of the clear challengers to Penn State for the NCAA crown.
But that doesn’t mean Iowa will concede anything to Oklahoma State. On the contrary, Iowa coach Tom Brands expects his team to challenge and compete in every match.
“There’s a lot of history between the programs,” Brands said. “There’s a lot of pizzazz and a carnival-like atmosphere that’s exciting for the fans. The last time I checked we had 9,000 tickets sold and it’s only Tuesday. So, you’re going to have the excitement that goes into that. You treat it the same [but], hey, this is Oklahoma State and they’re coming in and they’re coming after the same thing you’re after. They’re coming in to beat you, and they’re coming in to beat you bad. You’re going to have an opportunity and what are you going to do with that opportunity?
“If our guys get ready to go, I feel real good about our chances.”
Nine different Oklahoma State wrestlers are ranked, including six in the top 10. Iowa boasts six ranked wrestlers, including Brandon Sorensen (149 pounds) and Michael Kemerer (157), who are ranked No. 2 in their weight classes.
Perhaps the most pivotal match takes place at the lowest weight. Iowa’s Spencer Lee (1-0), who is No. 9 at 125, faces No. 6 Nick Piccininni (10-2).
“I’ve been watching these teams historically battle for a long time,” Lee said. “I’ve been a Hawkeye fan for a long time. It’s always been a hard-fought, fun dual meet. Pretty excited to be a part of it.”
Carver-Hawkeye Arena will be packed, but the environment will be much different from the last time these wrestling titans squared off in Iowa City. The teams battled before 42,287 fans on Nov. 14, 2015, at Kinnick Stadium. Iowa won the dual, 18-16.
“I was there, too,” said Lee, who was a junior at Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville, Pa. “It’s kind of cool to be a part of that history. It’s not at Kinnick, but I’m sure the fans will do their best to make it pretty loud and a fun environment.”
Iowa enters with an advantage at three weight classes and there are about three that are toss-ups. That’s what will determine whether the Hawkeyes re-enter the national wrestling discussion or are relegated to the sport’s kiddie table for a year.
“This team coming in is in that championship-caliber ranking and we’re probably just outside of that,”Brands said. “But this is a great opportunity to maybe position ourselves in that category and that’s where we want to be. I like our team.
“We have a high-powered team coming in and our fans love this and the tradition between the two teams is strong; there’s a lot at stake for the University of Iowa wrestling program.”
Iowa wrestling vs. Oklahoma State meet time, details
Time: 3 p.m. CT
Date: Sunday, Jan. 14
Location: Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City, Iowa
Rankings: Iowa (8-0) is ranked No. 7; Oklahoma State (6-0) is ranked No. 3
How can I watch Iowa wrestling vs. Oklahoma State on TV?
BTN will air the nonconference dual live. Tim Johnson and Jim Gibbons call the action from Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
How can I watch Iowa wrestling vs. Oklahoma State online?
BTN will stream the meet on BTN-Plus and the BTN2GO app. FloWrestling.com also streams the dual.
How can I listen to Iowa wrestling vs. Oklahoma State on the radio?
For Iowa wrestling, 800 AM (KXIC-Iowa City) is the flagship station.
Who is calling the Iowa wrestling vs. Oklahoma State meet?
Steven Grace handles play-by-play while two-time NCAA champion Mark Ironside adds analysis for KXIC.
How can I buy Iowa-Oklahoma State tickets?
Click here for ticket information from TicketCity.com.
Iowa wrestling vs. Oklahoma State key matchup
125: Spencer Lee (Iowa) vs. Nick Piccininni (Oklahoma State)
Spencer Lee (1-0) handled his Iowa dual in fine fashion last week by pinning Michigan State’s Rayvon Foley in 46 seconds. Lee, a freshman, already is ranked No. 9 and will have a say in the national picture. But to prove he’s a worthy title contender, he must stop No. 6-ranked Nick Piccininni (10-2). Last week in Oklahoma State’s dual meet against North Carolina State at Naples, Italy, Piccininni lost to No. 8-ranked Sean Fausz, 9-5.
Every match matters for both teams but especially Iowa. If Lee can start strong with a victory or even gain bonus points, it could launch the Hawkeyes to an upset.
Iowa wrestling vs. Oklahoma State probable lineups
Weight: Oklahoma State vs. Iowa
125: No. 3 Nick Piccininni (10-2) vs. No. 9 Spencer Lee (1-0)
133: No. 4 Kaid Brock (14-2) vs. Paul Glynn (6-5)/Phillip Laux (9-3)
141: No. 5 Dean Heil (14-2) vs. Vince Turk (6-4)/Carter Happel (10-6)
149: No. 14 Boo Lewallen (17-2)/Geo Martinez (13-4) vs. No. 2 Brandon Sorensen (13-0)
157: Jonce Blaylock (10-5) vs. No. 2 Michael Kemerer (14-0)
165: No. 8 Chandler Rogers (12-3) vs. No. 11 Alex Marinelli (7-0)
174: No. 14 Jacobe Smith (12-3) vs. Joey Gunther (11-2)
184: No. 19 Keegan Moore (10-4) vs. Mitch Bowman (9-3)
197: No. 3 Preston Weigel (3-0) vs. No. 5 Cash Wilcke (13-0)
HWT: No. 10 Derek White (12-1) vs. No. 3 Sam Stoll (11-0)