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IOWA CITY,. Iowa – Wrestling is a demanding sport, consuming countless amounts of time and energy.
University of Iowa's Vinnie Wagner meets the demand of training as a Division I athlete while handling the rigors of studying medicine, the commitment of being a newlywed and a dedication to his faith.
If there's a will, there's a way.
"It all works out," said Wagner, who aspires to be a doctor but hasn't decided a specific field yet. "If you want to do something bad enough, you can find a way to do it."
The Hawkeye senior expected to contribute to the upper weights this season scored a 21-8 major decision over Cornell's Andrew Roberts, helping top-ranked to a 3-0 record Saturday in the Iowa City Duals at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Wagner graduated last year with a degree in biomedical engineering, and elected to to extend the four-year program to five so he could wrestle this year. He also juggles a new life with his wife, Allison, exchanging vows in September.
Sometimes conflicts arise and tests or classes overlap practice times. Wagner praised the coaches for working with him, allowing him to train at an alternative time or come in early or late to leave early or stay later to get in the necessary work. Organization is a premium.
"It's tough, especially when some of our classes run into practice time," Wagner said. "You just have to have a good schedule written and prioritize."
Iowa Coach Tom Brands shared a story last week about Wagner having a conflict with a test and asked what time it was scheduled. He didn't realize it was a six-hour long exam that consisted of a written test and lab practical.
"He's an eternal optimist," Brands said before a practice. "If anyone can do it, he can."
Wagner said he's a pretty "stress-free" person, relying on his faith to alleviate some of the strain, participating in bible studies. He said he has seen others stressed by the pressure without the addition of wrestling. His parents and his high school and college wrestling coaches have wired him differently.
"Complaining never gets you anywhere," Wagner said.
Wagner took the mat for only one match, returning from a knee injury suffered during wrestle-offs two weeks ago. The former Osage state champion looked fine, scoring seven takedowns in his victory. He said he feels great.
"A little sloppy but it felt awesome," Wagner said. "I can always do better but as far as how my body feels and everything is great."
The top-ranked Hawkeyes (3-0) extended their unbeaten streak to 80 duals. They also increased their current home win streak to 36 straight. Iowa blanked Cornell (42-0), beat NAIA's Baker (Kan.) University (47-3) and NJCAA's top-ranked Iowa Central (37-6).
Some new faces to the lineup were impressive. red-shirt freshmen Mike Evans (165) and heavyweight Bobby Telford went undefeated Friday, improving to 8-0 and 7-0, respectively.
Evans sandwiched a pin between two technical falls. Telford opened, almost forcing a match termination in the first period. He added a technical fall and then closed the Hawkeyes' competition.
"That first match at the end of the second period, the crowd's clapping hard the like the match was over," Brands said about Telford. "I heard one of the guys on the bench say it was almost like the match was over because they don't clap that hard for everybody when the match is over and they get their hand raised.
"So, they must like our heavyweight."
Iowa opened with three straight falls from Matt McDonough (125), Tony Ramos (133) and Montell Marion (141) against Baker. Ethen Lofthouse also had a pin. Derek St. John scored a technical fall at 157.
The Hawkeyes earned bonus points in seven matches against Cornell, getting pins from Evans and Lofthouse. Ramos won by technical fall and McDonough and Marion had major decisions.
Against Iowa Central, Iowa won 8 of 10 bouts. McDonough had a fall, St. John and Lofthouse scored technical falls and Ramos and Jeremy Fahler (184) added major decisions.
Cornell (2-2) finished with a 25-9 win over Baker, losing to Iowa Central, 26-12. Iowa Central, the five-time defending NJCAA national champions went 2-1.
Iowa will host Illinois Friday at 7 p.m. Brands said a team that is probably good will be fired up coming to Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
"That's the next thing," Brands said in a post-meet press conference. "You don't look ahead, but you take care of business and then you get to the next thing. That's we're we're at."
AT CARVER-HAWKEYE ARENA
Iowa 47, Baker 3
125 pounds Matt McDonough (I) pinned Bo Newport, 3:51; 133 Tony Ramos (I) pinned AJ Gassman, 4:34; 141 Montell Marion (I) pinned Philip Henes, 4:28; 149 Jarrell Price (B) dec. Jacob Ballweg, 5-3; 157 Derek St. John (I) tech. fall Nathan Sommer, 20-4 in 5:13; 165 Mike Evans (I) tech. fall Jake Price, 19-3 in 5:10; 174 Ethen Lofthouse (I) pinned Clarence Jordan, 2:38; 184 Jeremy Fahler (I) maj. dec. Parker Owen, 9-1; 197 Tomas Lira (I) dec. Jake Nowak, 7-2; Hwt. Bobby Telford (I) pinned Dylan Berg, 2:17
Iowa 42, Cornell College 0
125 pounds Matt McDonough maj. dec. Timothy Hood, 13-3; 133 Tony Ramos tech. fall Tigue Snider, 26-10 in 6:41; 141 Montell Marion maj. dec. Michael Buhr, 17-7; 149 Jake Ballweg dec. Nicholas Drendel, 5-2; 157 Derek St. John dec. Nicholas Loughlin, 12-6; 165 Mike Evans pinned Joe Hambleton, 2:53; 174 Ethen Lofthouse pinned Brent Hamm, 1:06; 184 Vinnie Wagner maj. dec Andrew Roberts, 21-8; 197 Grant Gambrall dec. Alex Coolidge, 4-3; Hwt. Bobby Telford tech. fall Carl Gaul, 19-3 in 6:01
Iowa 37, Iowa Central C.C. 6
125 pounds Matt McDonough (I) pinned Jacob Colon, 2:55; 133 Tony Ramos (I) maj. dec. Brandon Wright, 17-6; 141 Montell Marion (I) dec. Terrel Wilbourn, 10-4; 149 Edwin Cooper (ICCC) dec. Jacob Ballweg, 3-2; 157 Derek St. John (I) tech. fall Joe Winkler, 18-0 in 6:17; 165 Mike Evans (I) tech. fall Colin Hewitt, 16-0 in 6:20; 174 Ethen Lofthouse (I) tech. fall Jahwon Akui, 20-4 in 6:26; 184 Jeremy Fahler (I) maj. dec. Cristian Mays, 12-4; 197 Kolton Kersten (ICCC) dec. Tomas Lira, 7-6; Hwt. Bobby Telford (I) pinned Lonnie Brown, 1:53