Overall Thursday's first day of action went pretty well for Iowa. They weren't on the wrong end of any upsets and they even managed to get a few upsets of their own, with Cash Wilcke knocking off #13 Tom Sleigh at 197 lbs in the early session and Alex Meyer besting #6 Ryan Preisch in the evening session. For the most part the guys who were supposed to win won and the guys who were supposed to lose lost. That'll do. You can't win an NCAA title on Thursday -- but you can damn near lose one with bad results and that didn't happen for Iowa.
You can catch up on the results of the early session here, so let's talk about the evening action. The night session was a good one for Iowa, as they went 8-1 overall, including 6-1 in championship bracket matches, allowing them to place six wrestlers into the quarterfinals.
|125||#1 Thomas Gilman||MAJ DEC (22-8)||#16 Nathan Kraisser (Campbell)|
|133||#4 Cory Clark||DEC (10-5)||Pat D'Arcy (Princeton)|
|149||#5 Brandon Sorensen||DEC (6-2)||Andrew Crone (Wisconsin)|
|157||#2 Michael Kemerer||TECH FALL (22-6)||Chase Delande (Edinboro)|
|174||#11 Alex Meyer||DEC (7-5)||#6 Ryan Preisch (Lehigh)|
|184||#3 Sammy Brooks||FALL (3:44)||#14 Dakota Geer (Edinboro)|
|197||#4 Jared Haught (Virginia Tech)||DEC (4-1)||Cash Wilcke|
Thomas Gilman got things started with a bang at 125, taking Kraisser down at will and getting an easy major decision. The only disappointment was that he was achingly close to a technical fall, but wasn't able to get the final point needed for that extra 0.5 team points. Cory Clark kept the momentum rolling with a pretty dominant 10-5 win over D'Arcy as he got early takedowns and smothered D'Arcy in the first and second periods; he did give up a few late takedowns, which unfortunately prevented him from having a shot to get a major decision.
Brandon Sorensen made it 3/3 for Iowa in the championship bracket with a comfortable 6-2 win over Crone, a familiar foe. The fireworks really started after that, with Michael Kemerer absolutely going to work on Chase Delande and dismantling him for a 22-6 technical fall. Kem hit the gas and never let up until he had the technical fall secured. Alex Meyer got a key upset for Iowa at 174, knocking off #6 Preisch despite going down 3-0 early. Meyer finished strong, though, getting an escape and takedown early in the third period and the winning takedown with just seconds left in the match. Good Alex was definitely in attendance the last two periods of this match. Sammy Brooks got Iowa's sixth win in emphatic fashion, dominating Dakota Geer for two periods before finally sealing the deal with a pin at the edge of the mat.
— Go Iowa Awesome (@IowaAwesome) March 17, 2017
The win was also Sammy's milestone 100th win at Iowa. Congrats, Sammy!
— IowaWRLive (@IowaWRLive) March 17, 2017
Cash Wilcke was Iowa's only loser on Thursday night, dropping a 4-1 decision to #4 Jared Haught. He didn't get embarrassed, but he also never got too close to winning by not opening up and taking a few more shots. Still, this was a very successful evening of action for the Hawks.
|141||Topher Carton||MAJ DEC (16-4)||Cole Martin (Wisconsin)|
|165||Joey Gunther||DEC (3-1)||Lorenzo De La Riva (CSU Bakersfield)|
The good times kept rolling in the consolation round, as Topher Carton and Joey Gunther both stayed alive in the tournament with wins. Carton cruised to an easy 16-4 major decision (and was awfully close to adding another pin to Iowa's total) while Gunther was able to grind out a 3-1 win with a late takedown and hard ride-out in the third period.
So far the results have been breaking Penn State's way for the most part. Their eliminated wrestler is Suriano, who had to forfeit both matches here due to injury. Their only other loser on the day was Jimmy Gulibon, who lost in the evening session. Their other seven wrestlers are still alive in the quarterfinals, tied with Oklahoma State for the most. Speaking of the Cowboys, they may have seven alive in the quarters, but they've had some costly losses too -- #7 Kyle Crutchmer lost in the first round at 174 and #2 Anthony Collica (149) and #6 Austin Schafer (285) both got upset tonight. Collica had a great path to the finals and a possible runner-up finish; now he needs to win his next SIX matches in order to finish 3rd. Oklahoma State's title bid was always based on a numbers game -- they needed as many wrestlers as possible on the podium. Having three guys already in the consolation round really complicates that plan.
Ohio State has also lost some wrestlers in the championship bracket, although three of the four were unsurprising -- no one expected much from Cody Burcher (165), so it's no surprise he went 0-2 and is already eliminated. Likewise, Jose Rodriguez (125) and Luke Pletcher (141) dropping into the consos isn't too shocking, either. But #6 Myles Martin (184) losing on Thursday night and falling into the quarters is a surprise -- and a big blow for Ohio State's title aspirations. The Buckeyes have holes at several weights (157, 165, 125, 141), which means they need to get excellent returns at their other weights -- that ain't happening right now.
|125||#1 Thomas Gilman||vs||#8 Nick Piccininni (Oklahoma State)|
|133||#4 Cory Clark||vs||#5 Stevan Micic (Michigan)|
|149||#5 Brandon Sorensen||vs||#4 Micah Jordan (Ohio State)|
|157||#2 Michael Kemerer||vs||#7 Dylan Palacio (Cornell)|
|174||#11 Alex Meyer||vs||#3 Bo Jordan (Ohio State)|
|184||#3 Sammy Brooks||vs||#11 Emery Parker (Illinois)|
This is an absolutely pivotal round for Iowa and for the entire team race. If Penn State places all (or most) of their seven wrestlers into the semifinals, they're likely to start pulling away in the team race and putting some real distance between them and the challengers in the standings. Ohio State and Oklahoma State have very little room for error after their slip-ups on Thursday (Iowa doesn't have much room for error, either, but they entered the tournament without much room for error).
This is also the round when the match-ups start getting pretty challenging. Gilman knocked off Piccininni 12-4 earlier this year and if he wrestles with the energy and aggressive edge he had on Thursday night, he should be fine. Clark has looked solid through two matches but he'll need to keep it up to unlock #5 Micic's defense; Clark edged him 2-0 earlier this year. Sorensen and Jordan have split a pair of low-scoring matches, with Brandon winning 2-0 at the dual and losing 2-1 in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals. Let's hope we see an assertive, attacking Sorensen in this match and not the overly conservative Sorensen that's shown up in a few too many of his losses this year.
Kemerer has never wrestled Palacio before. Kemerer is wrestling as well as any Iowa wrestler at the tournament right now, but Palacio and his funky style will be a big test for Kem. Meyer gets the Big Ten champion in Jordan; he lost a tight 3-2 decision to BoJo at the dual earlier this year, but if he can keep it close... maybe he can get a little more third period mojo going. And Brooks has never faced Parker before, but he seems like a better match-up than the dangerous Martin would have been (even if Brooks is 2-0 against Martin this year).
By seeds, Iowa should go 4-2 in this round. That would be pretty solid, but again -- it won't be easy. There are some very close match-ups here. I'd love to see 5-1 with Sorensen avenging his loss to Jordan at Big Tens. And if Meyer wants to make it a perfect 6/6... well, I won't complain about that.
|141||Topher Carton||vs||#12 Luke Pletcher (Ohio State)|
|165||Joey Gunther||vs||#14 Branson Ashworth (Wyoming)|
|197||Cash Wilcke||vs||Josh Marchok (Stanford)|
Just keep winning, boys. Carton dropped a 5-4 decision to Pletcher at the dual earlier this year. Gunther and Wilcke have never faced their opponents before. None of these three opponents are way outside their league, though; you don't have to imagine any crazy upsets to see Iowa Ws here. Hopefully they can channel the winning vibes from tonight in their matches tomorrow.