Iowa is coming off their worst back to back dual losses since the Gable area began. The worst headline in this stretch was not those two duals, but that they lost heavyweight #8 Sam Stoll for the season. It's a serious blow for the Hawkeyes who are considered one of the four teams in contention for the National Championship.
For the 2nd straight year, Stoll will not score a point at the NCAA Championships. A healthy Stoll meant that the Hawkeyes could be looking at placing seven on the All-American podium in St Louis. A total effort is necessary to run down Oklahoma State and Penn State, plus Ohio State once again has some horses that will score a lot of tournament points.
Sentiment this week could be that it is now a three-team race for the title, and that projected 2017-18 lineup is not very inspiring. However, it's very premature to pour dirt on the coffin.
Gilman is the favorite to win a national title and score a lot of points on the way through the bracket. As (or if) Clark gets healthier, he is in the title picture as well. Sorensen got takedowns and escapes against Retherford bringing the match all the way to the final rideouts, giving hope that Sorensen could finally get to the top of the podium.
The next tier is showing promise as well. Returning All-Americans Brooks & Meyer are poised to make another March run. Freshman Kemerer suffered his first defeat of the season at the hands of the undefeated killer Nolf. These three should, in theory, all finish on the podium with (of course) the higher the better.
Truth be told, I like Carton & Wilke. Carton looked completely a level above Gulibon on Friday but ran out of gas, which is uncharacteristic for him and Iowa. Wilke battled McCutcheon and his wins & losses this year are pretty respectable. There are only four 197's ranked in the Big Ten right now meaning getting to the NCAA's and scoring some points should be attainable.
When Iowa fans descend upon Bloomington in March, the highest importance of the weekend will probably be the consolation matches. Carton & Wilke battling into the top 5 which would likely earn them a seed at the NCAA's is paramount. Hollaway maybe taking advantage of a weaker heavyweight bracket to qualify is also part of the "every point counts" team race.
If losing Stoll is their last bad break of the season, the Hawkeyes could have a great Friday and be right in there. Injuries happen, and the other contenders will likely have their own adversity in the next couple months. Iowa is not done, but they need a lot to go right for a title in St Louis.