A session with some bright spots and some more disappointments.
CHAMPIONSHIP BRACKET MATCHES -- SEMIFINALS
133: #2 Tony Ramos DEC (6-4 SV-2) #3 Tyler Graff (Wisconsin)
157: #2 Derek St. John DEC (3-2 TB-2) #6 Alex Dieringer (Oklahoma State)
Iowa sent two wrestlers into the semifinals Friday night -- and they'll be sending two men into the championship finals on Saturday night after both Ramos and St. John won their semifinal matches. It wasn't always pretty (in fact, it was never pretty -- both men won ugly, slow-paced matches that went deep into OT), but they got the job done. Good luck tomorrow, guys.
CONSOLATION BRACKET MATCHES -- ROUND OF 12
125: #9 Trent Sprenkle (North Dakota State) DEC (3-1 SV-1) #3 Matt McDonough
141: #11 Mike Nevinger (Cornell) DEC (12-8) #7 Mark Ballweg
174: #3 Mike Evans MAJ DEC (8-0) Todd Porter (Missouri)
184: #12 Ethen Lofthouse DEC (3-2 TB-2) #10 Jacob Swartz (Boise State)
197: #4 Alfonso Hernandez (Wyoming) DEC (6-3) Nathan Burak
174: #3 Mike Evans DEC (5-2) Cody Walters (Ohio)
184: #12 Ethen Lofthouse DEC (3-0) #11 Mike Larson (Missouri)
The consolation bracket began on an incredibly bitter note, with team leader Matt McDonough ending his Iowa career with the saddest of thuds, losing 3-1 in OT on a controversial takedown call. We'll discuss it more depth later; right now my overriding feeling is just immense sadness that a great career ended in such ignominious fashion. This really, really sucks.
Mark Ballweg's Iowa career also ended Friday night, just moments after McDonough's career screeched to a halt. Like McD, Ballweg's run ended in the Round of 12, the round before All-America status is assured, so his tournament -- and his Iowa career- ended.
In fact, just two of the five Iowa wrestlers in the wrestlebacks-- Mike Evans and Ethen Lofthouse -- won their Round of 12 matches, assuring themselves of a place on the podium. With their other two wins during Session IV, Evans and Lofthouse guaranteed themselves of no worse than a 6th place finish. Kuds to them.
Finally, Iowa's last wrestler in the consolation brackets was Nathan Burak, who acquitted himself well before losing in the Round of 12. Burak did a phenomenal job of navigating his way to the Round of 12 -- it's not easy to get there when you lose in the first round -- but came up just short in his match with #4 Alfonso Hernandez in that round. Unlike McD and Ballweg, whose season also ended at the same round, Burak's career at Iowa is just beginning -- he's a true freshman, with three years of competition ahead of him. Hopefully his performance here is just the beginning of good things to come for Burak.
SESSION V MATCHES
CONSOLATION ROUND MATCHES
174: #3 Mike Evans vs #4 Robert Kokesh (Nebraska)
184: #12 Ethen Lofthouse vs. #2 Ben Bennett (Central Michigan)
Ramos and St. John won't wrestle until Saturday night, so we'll hold off on discussing their matches 'til then. Both Evans and Lofthouse are guaranteed two matches in this session. If they win these matches, they'll wrestle for 3rd place later in the morning/afternoon. If they lose these matches, they'll wrestle for 4th place later in the morning/afternoon. Evans has a great history of success against Kokesh (3-0 lifetime), while Lofthouse and Bennett have never previously wrestled.