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The first round... did not go as planned. Sigh.

WHO: the best wrestlers from across the country
WHEN: Thursday, March 19, 6 PM CT
WHERE: Scottrade Center; St. Louis, MO
RADIO: AM 800 KXIC (local), Hawkeye All-Access (non-local; $) or the expanded radio network
TV: ESPNU (select matches)
ONLINE: ESPN3 (all matches, all mats)

BRACKET: Click here (or use these excellent brackets with live updates from Penn State Wrestling Club)


1) 13.5 Ohio State
2) 11.5 Penn State
3) 11.0 Cornell
3) 11.0 Missouri
5) 10.0 Iowa
5) 10.0 Michigan
5) 10.0 Nebraska


125: #6 Thomas Gilman MAJ DEC (14-4) UN Evan Silver (Stanford)
133: #5 Cory Clark DEC (7-5) Ronald Perry (Lock Haven)
141: UN Kevin Jack (NC State) DEC (6-3) #5 Josh Dziewa
149: #4 Brandon Sorensen MAJ DEC (11-2) UN Kyle Langenderfer (Illinois; RS FR; 21-13)
157: #6 Josh Demas (Ohio State) DEC (7-3) UN Mike Kelly
165: #7 Pierce Harger (Northwestern) DEC (6-3) UN Nick Moore 
174: #3 Mike Evans DEC (4-1) UN Nate Jackson (Indiana)
184: #9 Sammy Brooks MAJ DEC (10-2) UN Ben Stroh (Wyoming)
197: #6 Nathan Burak MAJ DEC (18-4) UN Vince Pickett (Edinboro)
285: UN Spencer Myers (Maryland) DEC (7-5) #3 Bobby Telford

Good news: Iowa picked up bonus points in four of their wins in the opening round  Bad news: Iowa also lost four matches in the first round.  And that's the real takeaway from that round -- Iowa dealing fatal blows to their national title hopes almost before the tournament can even get underway.  A perfect round always seemed like a tricky proposition -- Kelly and Moore were wrestling guys who had beaten them earlier this year, to say nothing of their own inconsistent form -- but we certainly didn't expect Iowa to eat losses at 141 or 285.

After a strong showing at the Big Ten Tournament (minus the final, where he filled his role as Logan Stieber's sacrificial lamb with aplomb) Dziewa reverted back to the frustrating form that's plagued him for much of his Iowa career, ending things by getting ridden out for the entire third period.  Dziewa's loss hurt, given his seed and his potential to sneak onto the All-America podium... but it paled in comparison to Telford's loss.  Telford was one of Iowa's best bets to make the Saturday night finals -- at the very least he was a guy we were all counting on to make a deep run in the championship side of the bracket.  Instead, he dug himself an early 4-0 hole after a quick takedown and nearfall and was never able to claw his way back into the match.  A strategy of winning a match with one takedown goes out the window when you give up 4 points early.

Iowa isn't mathematically eliminated from the national title picture, but their gameplan for winning probably needs to be replaced.  It's very difficult to make All-America with a loss in the first match -- you have to win four matches in the consolation round just to ensure yourself a place in the 7th place match.  And you're not getting all that many points out of 7th or 8th place finishes.  To get 3rd place -- the best possible finish for Telford, Moore, Kelly, and Dziewa -- they need to win their next seven straight matches.  In reality, it's probably not realistic to expect many points out of them the rest of the way.

We'll need something out of them, of course -- there's no way Iowa wins a title with four guys posting donuts (or even close to donuts; we need someone to go on a run through the consos) -- but for the most part we need to hope that the guys still alive in the championship bracket and make it as far as possible.  Penn State won a title with five finalists and barely anything else a few years ago -- Iowa might need to do something like that.  (Of course, Penn State also had all the bonus points that guys like David Taylor and Ed Ruth scored, which was like having another point-scoring wrestler out there; Iowa isn't going to have that advantage.)



125: #6 Thomas Gilman vs. #11 Jordan Conaway (Penn State) 
133: #5 Cory Clark vs. #14 Rossi Bruno (Michigan)
149: #4 Brandon Sorensen vs. #13 Charles Cobb (Penn)
174: #3 Mike Evans vs. #14 Andy McCulley (Wyoming)
184: #9 Sammy Brooks vs. #8 Domenic Abounader (Michigan)
197: #6 Nathan Burak vs. UN Jake Tindle (Southern Illinois)

Mostly fresh match-ups here, with key rematches at 125 and 184.  Gilman has a pair of 1-point wins over Conaway (6-5 and 5-4) earlier this year.  Brooks lost 3-2 to Abounader at the dual.  We thought he would get a chance to avenge that loss in the Big Ten Tournament finals, but... yeah.  That didn't happen.  He really needs a win over Abounader now.

Clark, Sorensen, Evans, and Burak haven't wrestled their opponents.  Burak got a bit of a break in having #11 Alex Polizzi get upset by Trindle in the first round; Polizzi is a guy who he has struggled with a bit in the past.  Given the disparity in the rankings, this could be a chance for several Iowa guys to record bonus points.  But winning is the first priority -- Iowa can't afford to send any more guys to the consolation bracket right now.


141: #5 Josh Dziewa vs. UN Mike Pongracz (Chattanooga)
157: UN Mike Kelly vs. UN Alex Elder (Oregon State)
165: UN Nick Moore vs. UN Mitchell Polkowske (Northern Colorado)
285: #3 Bobby Telford vs. UN JJ Everard (South Dakota State)

The Iowa wrestlers in this part of the bracket could (and should?) beat all of these guys.  But that's going to depend heavily on what their mindsets are like after losing in the first round.  If they're not ready to go and ready to battle for the best finish possible, they could easily find themselves 0-2 and dunzo.

I'll update the results in the comments here, as usual.  Feel free to join in.

The usual rules apply.