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The quarterfinals loom...

WHO: the best wrestlers from across the country
WHEN: Friday, March 20, 10 AM 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) 23.0 Ohio State (5 in QF, 3 in consos)
2) 21.0 Iowa (5 in QF, 3 in consos)
3) 19.5 Oklahoma State (5 in QF, 3 in consos)
4) 18.5 Penn State (5 in QF, 2 in consos)
5) 18.0 Missouri (3 in QF, 6 in consos)
5) 18.0 Nebraska (3 in QF, 6 in consos)
7) 17.5 Cornell (3 in QF, 5 in consos)

The next few rounds are where the separation should really take hold in the standings.  Ohio State, Iowa, Oklahome State, and Penn State all have five in the quarterfinals, but not every quintet of quarterfinalists is created equal.  Ohio State stands a decent chance of placing all five of their quarterfinalists in the semis and it would be a surprise if they didn't place four of them in the semis (Tomasello, Stieber, Jordan, and Snyder).  Meanwhile, Iowa will likely struggle to get even three guys into the semifinals. Thanks to favorable match-ups at several weights, Penn State and Oklahoma State could also easily put at least three guys into the semifinals.  And Missouri, while down to just three quarterfinalists, could (and should) put all three into the semifinals -- they're all ranked #1 at their respective weights.  These standings make Iowa's position look pretty decent... I'm not convinced that it truly is, though.  Not unless they put together a truly sensational quarterfinals performance.



125: #6 Thomas Gilman DEC (3-1 SV) #11 Jordan Conaway (Penn State) 
133: #3 Cory Clark MAJ DEC (12-4) #14 Rossi Bruno (Michigan)
149: #13 Charles Cobb (Penn) DEC (4-3) #4 Brandon Sorensen
174: #3 Mike Evans DEC (4-0) #14 Andy McCulley (Wyoming)
184: #9 Sammy Brooks DEC (4-2) #8 Domenic Abounader (Michigan)
197: #6 Nathan Burak MAJ DEC (12-2) UN Jake Tindle (Southern Illinois)

After Iowa's championship express was virtually derailed after multiple losses in Session I, things went a bit better for Iowa in Session II in the Round of 16 matches.  5 of 6 Iowa wrestlers picked up wins here and two (Clark and Burak) picked up bonus points in their wins.  Burak would be my pick for best Iowa wrestler at the tournament so far, hands down.  He's had two bonus point wins and looked fantastic in both of them -- attacking early and often, looking aggressive and energetic and scoring points by the bushel.  This is exactly the Burak we've wanted to see all year and he picked a grand time to show up.  Cory Clark has also been very good for Iowa and looked particularly impressive in bossing Bruno around on his way to a major decision.

Evans and Brooks picked up more workmanlike wins, but any win is a decent port in a storm for Iowa at this point, given the torrent of losses they've endured at other weights so far at the tournament.  Gilman left it late to get his third win of the year over Conaway, but he too got the job done. The only Iowa wrestler to come up short in the Round of 16 was Brandon Sorensen, who gave up a funky takedown to Cobb in the first period and was never able to come back.  He looked very tentative on offense against Cobb and that proved to be very costly.  Like Telford's loss in the first round, this is another loss that really stings because Sorensen looked like one of Iowa's better bets to make the semifinals on the championship side of the bracket and contend for a spot in the finals.  We'll need him to tear things up in the consolation round now.


141: #5 Josh Dziewa MAJ DEC (12-3) UN Mike Pongracz (Chattanooga)
157: UN Alex Elder (Oregon State) DEC (11-8) UN Mike Kelly
165: UN Mitchell Polkowske (Northern Colorado) MAJ DEC (12-4) UN Nick Moore
285: #3 Bobby Telford FALL (0:39) UN JJ Everard (South Dakota State)

Yes, that's a pair of 0-2 tournament showings from Mike Kelly and Nick Moore and a 0 point contribution to Iowa's team total.  That is an absolute killer for the team title race, to say nothing of a bitterly disappointing way for those two seniors to end their Iowa careers.  Dziewa and Telford won their matches to stay alive in the consolation bracket (three more wins to go to lock up All-America status) and also showcased one of the few advantages of the consolation bracket: the improved possibility of bonus points that comes from wrestling weaker opponents.  We'll take any points we can get at this point.


125: #6 Thomas Gilman vs. #3 Joey Dance (Virginia Tech)
133: #3 Cory Clark vs. #6 Earl Hall (Iowa State)
174: #3 Mike Evans vs. #6 Logan Storley (Minnesota)
184: #9 Sammy Brooks vs. #1 Gabe Dean (Cornell)
197: #6 Nathan Burak vs. #3 Kyven Gadson (Iowa State)

Some very, very tough quarterfinal match-ups for Iowa.  Gilman gets a rematch with Dance, who beat him 3-1 in sudden victory at the Midlands final.  Brooks gets a rematch with Dean, who beat him 6-2 at National Duals.  Cory Clark gets an opponent he's defeated before, ISU's Earl Hall.  He beat Hall 8-3 at the dual earlier this year and also owns two wins (8-7, 10-4) over Hall when both were at 125 last season.  Mike Evans gets longtime rival Logan Storley; they've split their six career match-ups against one another, but Evans has won the last three, including both of this year's previous showdowns (3-1 in sudden victory at the dual, 2-1 in tiebreakers at the Big Ten Tournament). If this match is anything like they're last few, though, excitement and action will be in short supply; maybe we can lobby the NCAA to just skip ahead to sudden victory.  Nathan Burak gets a very tough Gadson in his quarterfinal; they haven't faced each other since a showdown at the Iowa-ISU dual two years ago (a 5-4 Gadson win); suffice to say both guys have improved quite a bit since then.

Needless to say, these are critical matches for Iowa's faint team championship hopes.  Those hopes rest heavily on Iowa getting as many guys deep into the championship bracket as possible.


141: #5 Josh Dziewa vs. #6 Nick Dardanes (Minnesota)
149: #4 Brandon Sorensen vs. UN Clayton Ream (North Dakota State)
285: #3 Bobby Telford vs. #13 Tyler Deuel (Binghamton)

Iowa wrestlers haven't been the only ones getting upset at this tournament... as we'll see in Josh Dziewa's very next match, against Nick Dardanes.  If Jeva gets by Dardanes, he'll likely get #3 Lavion Mayes (Missouri).  Oof.  If Jeva battles back to earn All-America honors, he'll really earn it.  He did beat Dardanes the last time they met (a 5-1 win at the Big Ten Tournament), but Dardanes handled him the first time they met (a 7-3 Dziewa loss).  Mayes beat Dziewa 13-6 at National Duals.  In other words, Josh better bring his working boots Friday morning.

Sorensen and Telford have opponents they've never faced this year.  They're both ranked much higher than their opponents, so they should win... but we know how that can go.

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

The usual rules apply.