IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Iowa hadn't beaten the rival Cyclones by such a wide margin in nearly two decades — and coach Tom Brands was still stewing over missed opportunities.
Such is life for the Hawkeyes wrestling team, where the national title is the main goal each and every season.
The fourth-ranked Iowa wrestling team won nine of 10 matches and routed rival Iowa State 32-3 on Saturday night, winning its ninth straight dual meet over the Cyclones.
Top-ranked Matt McDonough and Derek St. John cruised to easy decisions for the fourth-ranked Hawkeyes (6-0), who improved to 61-16-2 against Iowa State (0-2).
"I feel like we left points off the board in individual matches," Brands said.
Not many though.
Mike Evans and Ethen Lofthouse posted early wins for Iowa. The Hawkeyes led 14-3 at intermission and finished off one of the more lopsided meets in the history of the rivalry — one of the biggest in collegiate Olympic sports.
Iowa State's Kyven Gadson was the only Cyclones wrestler to win a match as Iowa State fell to 0-7 against Brands.
"We got outfought. We got outhustled," Iowa State coach Kevin Jackson said.
Few expected the rebuilding Cyclones to have a shot at the Hawkeyes, who are among a small group of legitimate NCAA title contenders that includes top-ranked Minnesota and two-time defending champions Penn State.
Iowa had complete control by the break.
Evans set the early tone, pounding freshman Tanner Weatherman 10-1 for four points, and Lofthouse followed with a convincing 10-3 decision over Iowa State's Boaz Beard.
Gadson survived a furious rally by freshman Nathan Burak to win 5-4 at 197 pounds, but Hawkeyes heavyweight Bobby Telford rallied in the third period to beat Matt Gibson 3-2.
The Hawkeyes were up 10-3 when McDonough, a two-time NCAA champion, made quick work of Iowa State's Ryak Finch for his 34th straight victory. Iowa then sent out Tony Ramos, ranked second at 133 pounds, and he beat promising true freshman John Meeks 18-7 to essentially clinch the meet with four matches left.
Hawkeyes Mark Ballweg and Michael Kelly followed with decisions and St. John pounded freshman Logan Molina 16-5.
Iowa's Nick Moore finished off the meet with a 3-2 win over Mike Moreno.
The 29-point margin of victory was the largest for the Hawkeyes over Iowa State since they beat the Cyclones 33-4 in 1996.
"Our guys responded for the most part very well," Brands said.
The one thing that these bitter rivals share is a connection to Cael Sanderson.
The Hawkeyes are chasing him — while the Cyclones are still trying to replace him.
Sanderson left his alma mater Iowa State, where his teams finished fifth or better at the NCAA meet in each of his three seasons, to take over at Penn State in early 2009. Though Iowa won the national title that season, its third straight, Sanderson has led the Nittany Lions to the last two NCAA crowns.
The Cyclones haven't been the same since Sanderson, perhaps the greatest wrestler in NCAA history, left for State College.
Iowa State came into the meet unranked and without a top-10 individual wrestler, while the Hawkeyes had six wrestlers ranked in the top 10.
"It's a long season and obviously we're two matches in and we're 0-2," Jackson said. "We're not feeling good about it. But we'll wrestle again in a couple weeks and we'll keep pushing forward. I've got some guys where I can live with their performances. I got some guys where, there's going to be some hurt feelings."
The results were predictable, as Iowa jumped on the Cyclones early and rolled to victory.
"I think Kevin Jackson is trying hard. I'm not going to speak for him, and we focus on what we've got to focus on," Brands said when asked about the growing gap between Iowa and Iowa State.
The meet drew 9,623, or about a few thousand less than men's basketball game earlier in the day. This meet set the national attendance record of 15,955 four years ago in Iowa City, but the struggling Cyclones aren't the draw they used to be.
"The competition is going to get tougher the deeper we get into the year, and we have to be able to widen that gap more, what I would describe 'pronounced.' Like with a thump," Brands said. "There were some good thumps."