InterMat Wrestling – Examining the Remaining Schedule for Drake Ayala

Drake Ayala (right) and Devin Schroeder (Photos/Sam Janicki;

How to watch: January 9, Big Ten Network (3pm EST)

We didn’t have much time to speculate or continue with this will/not playing in regards to Iowa’s replacement for three-time NCAA champ Spencer Lee. On Friday night, Tom Brands unleashed real 125-pound freshman Drake Ayala against the return of Patrick Mackie (Minnesota). Starting a real new student was a rarity during the brands tenure, so sending Ayala in his first duo without me speaks volumes about how Ayala is viewed by the staff.

Through 13 games in his first year in Iowa City, Ayala amassed a record 10-3, with all three losses going to 2021 NCAA third-placed Mackie. In every competition, Ayala has never looked out of place or outdone. He commented and even led the All-American, which gave many observers the indication that Ayala could flip that score with more time in the Iowa room and a trial against a DI competition.

This is what we are looking at today. The Ayala track for the remainder of the regular season and the Big Ten Championships. By the time the conference meet rolls around, in early March, it will undoubtedly be a test of battle as Hawkeye’s schedule is loaded with potential tests in the 125-pound weight class. Starting from today!

At 3 p.m. (E), on the Big Ten Network, Ayala will tangle with two-time Big Ten runner-up Devin Schroeder (Purdue). Veteran Boilermaker is currently ranked fifth in the country and has one of the deadliest games of this weight. Many new students struggle on the mat, so this will be a big test for Ayala.

Jan 14 – #17 Michael D’Agostino (NW)

The 2021 NCAA Round of 12 final round saw no activity this year before Friday evening. DeAugustino made his presence known and took out Eric Barnett #4 of the All-American (Wisconsin) on his debut. He’s definitely a rank lower than his abilities suggest, due to a lack of data for the 2021-22 season.

Jan 16 – #24 Justin Cardani (Illinois)

The 2020 NCAA Qualifier is knocking out a title at the MatMen Open, where he dropped a pair of seeded wrestlers.

Jan 21 – #14 Malik Henselmann (Ohio)

The much-improved Heinselman currently holds a record 11-1 and is looking to improve to fourth in the 2021 Big Ten Championships. While Heinselman has been known for being stained on his feet, he’s been more rounded during this campaign.

January 28 – Drew Hildebrandt (Penn.)

This will be a massive match in one of the most anticipated duos of the year. Hildebrandt made his PSU debut on Friday with a pin against Maryland, but it remains to be seen what kind of format he is in. If anywhere near his level in 2021 leads to a fourth place finish in the NCAA, Hildebrandt will be a big test for Ayala.

February 5 – #4 Eric Barnett (Wisconsin)

The third 2021 All-American on Ayala’s schedule, Barnett presents a different challenge than some of the other opponents. He is able to score points in groups and with big moves, so he may be the most dangerous crew member.

February 12 – #9 Trevor Mastrogovani (Oklahoma)

The Iowa/Oklahoma State game is a game that will be played at the Texas Rangers (Globe Live Field) along with a double match with Team USA/Iran. #3 Oklahoma State is one of the few teams that has enough balance to possibly defeat the Hawkeyes. This match between Ayala and the most likely undefeated Trevor Mastrojovani is what propels the winner to the team’s victory.

Feb 20 – #23 Liam Cronin / Jeremiah Reno (Nebraska)

If this final duet with Nebraska is Ayala’s “stop” in the stream, it just tells you how tough the upcoming roster will be. The returning Cronin qualified nationally and ranked No. 13 in the NCAA, 3-3, but hasn’t played since the Dactronics Open in late November. Since then, Renault has taken the call and is 3-6 overall.

March 5/6 – The Big Ten Championship

#4 Barnett, #5 Schroeder, #7 Mackie, #14 Hinselmann, #17 DiAugustino, #23 Cronin, #24 Cardani, #25 Jacob Moran (India), #30 Dylan Schaffer (Rutgers). Additionally, he is currently unrated Nick Soriano (Michigan) and Hildebrandt.

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