Bumps In The Road: Iowa Wrestling Stumbles In Second Round of NCAA Wrestling Tournament

 

Nope, that certainly didn't go the way we were hoping it would; after an opening round where eight of nine Iowa wrestlers picked up wins (and two, Tony Ramos and Grant Gambrall, picked up a pair of wins thanks to pigtail matches), things went a bit sour in the second round, as Iowa went just 5-3 in that round, with two of the three losing wrestlers crashing out to opponents seeded lower than them.  If anything, though, this should be a reminder that at a certain point seeds are relatively meaningless -- what matters far more is matchups and in many cases Iowa those were against Iowa.  

At 133, Central Michigan's Scotti Sentes was a nightmare match-up for Ramos; Sentes is long and strong and capable of overpowering the smaller Ramos (a baffling tactical decision to have Ramos take bottom against Sentes didn't help matters, either; given Ramos' struggles to get out from underneath bigger, stronger guys all season, staying neutral seems like a more prudent move in hindsight).  At 174, Lofthouse ran into an opponent he's beaten before (he took out Letts, 6-4, at Midlands in December), but who is peaking at the right time (Letts won the 174 title at the ACC Tournament a few weeks ago).  And at HWT, the short, stocky, fiesty Fernandez presented a challenge that Blake couldn't solve.  Granted, a large part of their failures were also self-inflicted -- Ramos and Lofthouse struggled to convert shots and Rasing reverted to his tentative, "stand around and do very little" approach that led him to be so frustrating earlier in the season.  Again, the ultimate failure in these matches rests on the Iowa guys for failing to get the job done -- but they're also an important reminder that match-ups do matter, too.  For a look at the road ahead for the Iowa guys on Friday, read after the jump.  

Session II results
second round
125: (2) 
Matt McDonough MAJ DEC (14-4) (UN) Sean Boyle (Michigan)
133: (11) Scotti Sentes (Central Mich) DEC (2-0) (6) Tony Ramos
141: (5) Montell Marion DEC (10-3) (12) Zack Kemmerer (Penn)
157: (6) Derek St. John DEC (8-2) (11) Walter Peppelman (Harvard)
174: (8) Mike Letts (Maryland) DEC (8-3) (9) Ethen Lofthouse
184: (12) Grant Gambrall DEC (8-3) (5) Joe LeBlanc (Wyoming)
197: (5) Luke Lofthouse DEC (8-3) (12) Zack Giesen (Stanford)
HWT: (10) Nathan Fernandez (Oklahoma) DEC (3-1 OT) (7) Blake Rasing

consolation round
165: (11) 
Aaron Janssen DEC (10-6) (6) Dallas Bailey (Oklahoma State)

 

 

STANDINGS
1) Penn State -- 30.5 pts
2) Cornell -- 29 pts
3) Iowa/Oklahoma State -- 25 pts
5) American -- 23.5 pts
6) Arizona State -- 21 pts
7) Wisconsin -- 20 pts
8) Boise State -- 19.5 pts
9) Minnesota -- 19 pts
10) Nebraska -- 18.5 pts

Iowa: 5 alive in championship bracket, 4 in consolation bracket
Penn State: 7 alive in championship bracket, 1 in consolation bracket
Cornell: 5 alive in championship bracket, 4 in consolation bracket
Oklahoma State: 4 alive in championship bracket, 4 in consolation bracket
American: 3 alive in championship bracket, 2 in consolation bracket
Arizona State: 3 alive in championship bracket, 2 in consolation bracket
Wisconsin: 4 alive in championship bracket, 2 in consolation bracket
Minnesota: 2 alive in championship bracket, 6 in consolation bracket

 

We'll save the more elaborate breakdowns of what each guy has done right (or wrong) until the post-tournament recap; for now let's just look at what each guy needs to do tomorrow.

125: As expected, McD has cruised into the quarterfinals; the only disappointment is that he couldn't record his third pin of the season against Michigan's Sean Boyle in the second round.  Considering that he's the ONLY Iowa guy to record ANY bonus points so far, we could certainly use the max bonus points out of him in every match.  Up next is (7) Ryan Mango of Stanford; McD beat him 10-1 earlier this year.  If he gets by him, odds are we'll get McD-Precin IV in the semifinals Friday night.  Meanwhile, Anthony Robles' path to the finals got even easier after previously undefeated (4) James Nicholson went down, 2-1, to Utah Valley's Ben Kjar.  Likely semifinal opponent (5) Zach Sanders is likely the only thing standing between Robles and a spot in the finals.

133: Losing in the second round not only means Ramos doesn't get another crack at PSU's Andrew Long in the quarters -- it means he's got a long road ahead of him to get to All-America status.  Up first: Kent State's Tyler Small. Get by him and Ramos will get either Ohio State's Ian Paddock or Minnesota's David Thorn; given Ramos' struggles with Thorn, it's probably best to root for Paddock here.  Get by that foe and he's looking at the loser of the (4) Tyler Graff-(5) Lou Ruggirello match.  He would need to win that match just to get to the match that would guarantee him at least 8th place.  Losing in the second round is a bad, bad idea.

141: Marion is the first of three Iowa wrestlers in the quarters to be facing a rematch with an opponent from the Big Tens; he lost to Kennedy, 9-6, in the 3rd-place match at Big Tens.  That will be a tough match for Marion; Kennedy's strength and explosiveness was too much for Marion at Big Tens.  If he can get by Kennedy, he'd likely get a rematch with (1) Kellen Russell in the semifinals on Friday night.

149: Obviously Iowa has no presence here this year, but it's still very relevant in the team race since Cornell and Penn State have two of the top four guys at this weight.  Like 133 and 141, the results so far have been mostly scratch, with one notable exception -- (1) Darrion Caldwell was forced to injury default in the second round, which should open up a pretty clear path for Cornell's Kyle Dake, the 4-seed.  

157: Another mostly scratch bracket (the only notable upset so far was 12-seed Paul Young of Indiana taking down 5-seed Jesse Dong of Virginia Tech; let us mourn the loss of the Donger from the championship bracket).  Like Marion, DSJ also gets a rematch here with a guy that beat him at Big Tens (as well as earlier this season).  DSJ narrowed the margin of defeat against Taylor at Big Tens and looked much better (he actually hit a few takedowns of his own and was close on a few others), though actually beating Taylor remains a purely theoretical enterprise at this point.  There's no doubt that a win here would be absolutely massive

165: If only Janssen had wrestled like he did against Bailey in the match with Yates earlier in the day; had he done so, he probably would still be alive in the championship bracket and getting ready to face 3-seed Tyler Caldwell of Oklahoma.  Still, at least Janssen was able to turn it on in the conso match with Bailey and save his bacon for a few more rounds.  Up next is Binghampton's Justin Lister, who injury defaulted against 1-seed Jordan Burroughs in his second-round match.  If he does so again, he'd hand Iowa a pass into the next round -- and give us some much-needed bonus points.  After that he could get 9-seed Justin Kerber of Cornell, who's been nursing an injury of his own.  There's definite potential for Janssen at this bracket -- he just needs to make things happen.

174: We kind of figured Lofthouse the Younger would be going out soon -- there's been precious little indication that he could hang with 1-seed Jon Reader in the quarterfinal round, so Lofthouse was essentially sent down to the consos a round earlier than we would have expected.  On the other hand, being sent down early means having to wrestle an extra match, which opens up another possibility for losing.  Still, Lofthouse gets a pretty favorable draw: if he gets by Boston's Hunter Meys he could get Purdue's Luke Manuel in the next round -- and he beat Manuel twice at Big Tens.

184: By far the pleasant surprise of the tournament; Gambrall has endured a lot of shit from us in the past (and, frankly, it's not entirely undeserved, given his up-and-down form heading into the NCAA Tournament.  The good news is that he's wrestling well now, as evidenced by his impressive 8-3 win over 5-seed Joe LeBlanc.  Up next is a bout with the 4-seed, Wisconsin's Travis Rutt.  Rutt is yet another Big Tens rematch; in that match, Gambrall was wrestling Rutt fairly evenly until a poorly-timed shot enabled Rutt to take Gambrall to his back and pinned him.  Avoiding that would probably be a good idea this time 'round.  If he gets by Rutt, he could be looking at the 1-seed, Edinboro's Chris Honeycutt in the semis.

197: After a shaky opening round match, Uncle Luke looked a bit more like himself in the second round, with a solid 8-3 win over Giesen.  The competition ramps up significantly now, with Kilgore being one of the most difficult matchups for the Albino Rhino, given the size/strength advantages Kilgore ought to have on him.  If Uncle Luke can get by Kilgore, he could face 1-seed Cam Simaz of Cornell in the semis.  That match wouldn't be any easier for Uncle Luke, frankly.

HWT: Blake is another guy whose close loss in the second round put him on a very challenging track to obtain All-America status.  First he has to get through 4-seed Dominick Russo of Rutgers -- no easy feat that, especially with the lackadaisical way Rasing is wrestling lately.  If he can get by Russo (and just a reminder: if he can't, his tournament -- not to mention his season -- will be over), he should draw a rematch with Indiana's Ricardo Alcala, who beat Blake at the dual meet earlier this season.  Get by that match and he's looking at the loser of the (1) Zachary Rey-(9) Cameron Wade match in his following match.  And, oh yeah, he'll have to win that match, too, just to get to a guaranteed 8th-place finish.  A very tough path for Blake there -- he has his work cut out for him if he wants to make it on the podium.

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