June 24, 2021

Head on a swivel

The title of my weekly column is This and That. And after a weekend chalked full of things to watch, it’s certainly fitting this week as I hope to touch on a little bit of this and some of that with this week’s space.

The Iowa wrestlers won a national title for the first time in 10 years. Spencer Lee won his third national title and revealed afterwards that he did it without an ACL in either knee.

The Iowa men’s basketball team won its first-round game with relative ease against Grand Canyon. The Hawkeyes played Oregon on Monday with a berth to the Sweet 16 on the line.

The Drake men’s basketball team won an NCAA tournament game for the first time in 50 years. And a former Newton Cardinal helped the Bulldogs accomplish the feat.

That’s where I will start. Garrett Sturtz and Connor Gholson played in their first NCAA tournament games over the weekend.

Drake kicked off the tournament with a First Four game on Thursday. The Bulldogs trailed by double digits in the first and second half but overcame both deficits to knock off Wichita State.

The Bulldogs scored six points in the first 11 minutes of the game but only trailed 21-20 at the break. They won 53-52.

Sturtz played 37 minutes in the game and finished with four points, four rebounds and four assists.

Drake just ran up against a better team on Saturday. The Bulldogs trailed sixth-seeded USC by three at halftime but the length of the Trojans caused problems in the second half during a 72-56 win.

In that one, Sturtz had five points, seven rebounds, four steals and four assists in 35 minutes. Gholson played the final minute of the game as head coach Darian DeVries cleared the bench to get everyone on the team some playing time in a tournament game.

Drake had a fun season. The Bulldogs went 26-5 despite losing two starters to injury. DeVries said he expects every key player on the roster to be back next season.

I have not been told specifically if Sturtz and Gholson will be back. I am sure that news will come out soon enough though.

I kept tabs on the NCAA Wrestling Championships from Thursday to Saturday. It was the on the ESPN family of networks all weekend.

My family and I had to make a trip to Marshalltown and when the wife asked me what day we could go, I told her Friday night or early Saturday. I tried to schedule the trip around the Iowa men’s basketball team and I also wanted to watch the NCAA finals on Saturday night.

We made the trip to Marshalltown on Saturday and were back home just as Drake was tipping off at 3:30. Then I hid out in the man cave the rest of the night watching the Drake men and then the Iowa men while flipping to wrestling when Iowa’s three finalists were on the mats.

And it worked out that Jayden Eierman wrestled during halftime of the Iowa men and Michael Kemerer hit the mat just as the Hawkeyes were closing out the win over Grand Canyon. I know they did that so I could watch all of it.

My head was definitely on a swivel. The remote was working overtime as I was going back and forth between the two.

We didn’t have a wrestling program at my high school when I was there. I grew up a basketball fan. It was my first love. So watching the Hawkeyes as the 2 seed for the first time was quite awesome.

I followed Iowa wrestling during my youth but picked up the sport more when I became a journalist and had to learn the sport even more. It was fun watching the Hawkeyes win another national title. And it looks like most, if not all, of the team will be back next year to try to do it again.

And hopefully Spencer Lee is joined by some of his teammates as individual champions.

The Iowa and Iowa State women also are in the tournament field. And Iowa State’s David Carr won an individual wrestling title this weekend.

There was so much going on. And now the only thing I want is for the Hawkeyes to take down Oregon and play in the Sweet 16 for the first time since I was a senior in high school.

Contact Troy Hyde at thyde@shawmedia.com