After a Thursday in which nearly everything went right for Iowa wrestling, the good times came crashing down in the quarterfinals on Friday morning. Iowa went 2-5 in the quarterfinals, sending Spencer Lee (125) and Kaleb Young (157) to the Friday night semifinals, while Austin DeSanto, Max Murin, Pat Lugo, Alex Marinelli, and Sam Stoll head to Friday night's consolation action.
Unlike Iowa, Penn State, Ohio State, and Oklahoma State were all perfect in the quarterfinals (going 6-0, 5-0, and 4-0, respectively), which allowed them to put some distance between themselves and Iowa in the team race. Penn State is moving into a strong lead in their quest for a fourth straight team title; a good performance in the semifinals could all but lock up that title.
1) 80.0 -- Penn State (6 in SF)
2) 66.5 -- Ohio State (5 in SF)
3) 56.0 -- Oklahoma State (4 in SF)
4) 43.5 -- Iowa (2 in SF)
5) 40.0 -- Michigan (2 in SF)
The Quarterfinal results:
|125||#3 Spencer Lee||FALL (5:59)||#6 Sean Russell (Minnesota)|
|133||#2 Stevan Micic (Michigan)||DEC (3-2)||#7 Austin DeSanto|
|141||#3 Nick Lee (Penn State)||DEC (4-1)||#22 Max Murin|
|149||#2 Micah Jordan (Ohio State)||DEC (10-3)||#10 Pat Lugo|
|157||#6 Kaleb Young||DEC (7-5 OT)||#3 Ryan Deakin (Northwestern)|
|165||#8 Mekhi Lewis (Virginia Tech)||DEC (3-1)||#1 Alex Marinelli|
|285||#4 Jordan Wood (Lehigh)||DEC (2-0)||#28 Sam Stoll|
The Iowa action started with Lee and he got the Hawkeyes off to a flying start. He picked up a fast takedown on Russell, then rode him for the duration of the period and picked up a turn for four near fall points. He extended his lead to 8-0 in the second with an escape and a stall point against Russell. In the third period he conceded his first takedown to Russell in the four matches they've had against one another -- but he quickly turned that into a pin for himself, ending the match in emphatic fashion. He's off to the semifinals and a rematch with Oklahoma State's Nick Piccinnini.
The quarterfinals went south for Iowa after that, with consecutive losses for Iowa at 133, 141, and 149. There was a consistent problem for Iowa in those losses: an inability to score offensive points. Neither DeSanto nor Murin nor Lugo could score a takedown against their opponents. In fact, in the two quarterfinals where Iowa did score a takedown (125 and 157), they went 2-0. In the five quarterfinals where Iowa failed to score a takedown (133, 141, 149, 165, 285), they went 0-5. Can't win if you can't score points.
DeSanto was stymied by Micic's stout defense and savvy tactics, but he also seemed to suffer from waiting too long to get aggressive on offense. I can understand being wary of Micic and respecting his offense, but DeSanto's style isn't to be cautious and conservative. Let the fur fly on offense and force the issue. When he did that in the third period he managed to draw a few stall points against Micic, but it was too little too late by then. Murin wrestled well against Nick Lee in his quarterfinal, but couldn't complete the upset by finishing his shots. He had several attacks that started well and he managed to get to Lee's legs or hips on a few occasions, but he was unable to finish any of them. Lee finally got to Murin's legs off an ankle trip in the third and that, unfortunately, was all it took. Lugo's match with Micah Jordan went exactly as I feared it would: with Lugo being stymied by Jordan's size and length. Lugo was unable to do anything offensively, while Jordan was able to complete several crisp takedowns with relative ease. Jordan is a very good wrestler and a very bad match-up for Lugo, so Jordan picking up a comfortable win was disappointing, but not shocking.
Thankfully, Kaleb Young ended the parade of Iowa defeats with an upset win over #3 Ryan Deakin of Northwestern. Young came out on the attack and took it to Deakin, scoring two takedowns in the first period to open up a 4-2 lead. Young's offense looked good and it was gratifying to see him taking the fight to an opponent; sometimes against higher-ranked foes, he's been a bit too cautious. Here he was aggressive and he rewarded for that activity. But Deakin kept grinding back, picking up an escape to start the second period and then getting a takedown of his own to complete the comeback and go up 5-4 entering the third. Young chose down and though it wasn't easy, he was able to finally get an escape midway through the period and tie the match at 5-5. It stayed tied and entered sudden victory, where Young once again went on the attack -- and was rewarded with the match-winning takedown. Way to go, Kaleb.
Our elation at Young's win was short-lived, though, because Iowa's quarterfinal demons reared their ugly heads again in the 165 lb match, where Alex Marinelli became the tournament's first #1 seed to lose, suffering a defeat that was both surprising and disappointing. And eminently frustrating -- Marinelli got in on Mikah Lewis' legs on several occasions, but he failed to finish any of those shots. That proved costly late in the third, as Lewis was able to get the match's one and only takedown with just seconds left after a scramble. That was a gutting way to lose for a guy who has been Iowa's best wrestler all season.
The consolation round concluded with a 2-0 loss from Sam Stoll at heavyweight. If you've seen Stoll's matches this season, then you've seen this loss. 0-0 first period, opponent escape in the second, opponent rides Stoll out to win the match. Stoll simply hasn't been able to get up and off the mat against big heavyweights, as well as heavies who can put a hard ride on (both of which describe Wood). So ends Stoll's Cinderella run in the championship side of the bracket.
Consolation bracket results:
|184||#12 Cash Wilcke||MAJ DEC (8-0)||#22 Mason Reinhardt (Wisconsin)|
|184||#4 Emery Parker (Illinois)||FALL (5:23)||#12 Cash Wilcke|
|197||#5 Jacob Warner||MAJ DEC (9-1)||#26 Josh Roetman (Navy)|
|197||#5 Jacob Warner||DEC (10-6)||#19 Tanner Orndorff (Utah Valley)|
The consolation action started well for Iowa on Friday morning, with Wilcke and Warner both earning major decision wins to stay alive. Wilcke's run ended in his next match, though, as he got caught and turned to his back by Illinois' Emery Parker and pinned. That loss ends Wilcke's NCAA Tournament; he becomes the first Iowa wrestler eliminated. Warner stayed alive in the consolation bracket with a 10-6 win in his second match of the day.
On tap for the semifinals:
|125||#3 Spencer Lee||vs||#2 Nick Piccinnini (Oklahoma State)|
|157||#6 Kaleb Young||vs||#2 Tyler Berger (Nebraska)|
Lee is 2-1 lifetime against Piccinnini, beating him 10-5 in the dual last year and pinning him in the NCAA Tournament quarterfinals last season. More recently, though, he himself was pinned by Piccinnini in the Iowa-Oklahoma State dual a month ago. We'll see how far Lee has come since that loss. Young lost to Berger 3-1 in OT last month.
And in the consos:
|133||#7 Austin DeSanto||vs||#13 Austin Gomez (Iowa State)|
|141||#22 Max Murin||vs||#16 Chad Red (Nebraska)|
|149||#10 Pat Lugo||vs||#20 Tommy Thorn (Minnesota)|
|165||#1 Alex Marinelli||vs||#6 Logan Massa (Michigan)|
|197||#5 Jacob Warner||vs||#10 Tom Sleigh (Virginia Tech)|
|285||#28 Sam Stoll||vs||#10 Youssif Hemida (Maryland)|
This is the Round of 12 or bloodround; the winners here lock up All-America Status, while the losers are (obviously) done. DeSanto lost to Gomez at the dual earlier this year (and almost got pinned). Red and Murin have never wrestled. Lugo is 2-0 against Thorn this year. Marinelli and Massa haven't wrestled this year, but Marinelli went 1-2 against Massa last season, with both losses happening in the Big Ten Tournament. Warner has never wrestled Sleigh. Stoll beat Hemida 1-0 earlier this season and went 2-1 against him in past seasons.