Who’s ready to rock and roll, ladies and gentlemen?
Starting this morning at 11 a.m, nine Iowa wrestlers will compete for NCAA Championships at the Scottrade Center in
scenic St. Louis. The Hawkeyes have five top-five seeds in the tournament with no national-title winning wrestlers on their roster. Let’s hope that changes. TV times and schedule are below, brackets are here, and there’s a breakdown of all nine competitors. Let’s boogie.
2017 NCAA Championships
|Thursday 11 a.m.||First Round ESPNU, WatchESPN|
|Thursday 11 a.m.||First Round ESPNU, WatchESPN|
|Thursday 6 p.m.||Second Round ESPN, WatchESPN|
|Friday 10 a.m.||Quarterfinals ESPNU, WatchESPN|
|Friday 7 p.m.||Semifinals ESPN, WatchESPN|
|Saturday 10 a.m.||Medal Round ESPNU, WatchESPN|
|Saturday 7 p.m.||Championships ESPN, WatchESPN|
Thomas Gilman — No. 1 at 125
As was the case before Big Tens, there is no reason Thomas Gilman should not be the 125-pound NCAA Champion come Saturday evening. He’s the top seed at the weight, and his title hopes got that much easier with No. 3 Nick Suriano’s injury withdrawal. Gilman wouldn’t have seen him until the finals anyways, but that’s another guy gone from a relatively shallow bracket.
His first real test figures to come with No. 8 Nick Piccininni or No. 9 Josh Rodriguez in the quarters. A potentially tough (but really how tough could that be?) bout with fifth-seeded Tim Lambert — whom he downed 4-0 in an uneventful Big Ten Tournament final a few weeks back — looms in the semis. Assuming seeds hold, No. 2 Joey Dance of Virginia Tech will try to best Gilman on the stage, they’re 1-1 against each other in their collegiate careers. Again, this is Gilman’s tournament to lose, let’s hope he doesn’t lose it.
Cory Clark — No. 2 at 133
Confession time: I was quite bearish on Clark’s chances headed into the postseason. He didn’t look like himself with the shoulder injury and the inherent pessimism that comes with being an Iowa fan overtook me. After a nails runner-up finish, however, the bull is running free!
I’d argue Clark benefited from getting a four seed instead of a two or three here, as he can let Seth Gross and Kaid Brock battle it out on the other side. That said, a challenging quarter-semi draw of No. 5 Stevan Micic and No. 1 Nathan Toamsello is a strong counterargument. However, the counter to that counter is that Clark wrestled Ohio State’s fire hydrant very well, getting in on a high volume of the legitimate shots he took. So we’ll see. The bottom line here: Clark’s going to have to beat two really, really good wrestlers and a handful of good ones to get that elusive NCAA crown.
Topher Carton — Unseeded at 141
Even with the relative weakness of the 141 pound weight class this season, it’s going to take a hell of a performance for Carton to score meaningful points for the Hawkeyes. He has a wrestle-in against Campbell’s Joseph Hail, followed by a matchup with No. 6 Joseph DiCamillo if he wins. Perhaps the senior will rattle off a few victories and end up with a decent showing, but Big Tens certainly didn’t inspire any confidence. We’ll be rooting, but not expecting. Prove us wrong, Topher.
Brandon Sorensen — No. 5 at 149
Facing No. 4 Micah Jordan and No. 1 Zain Retherford before the finals is, uh, less than ideal, but that’s the way Sorensen’s going to have go to get back to Saturday night in St. Louis. Should he get there, it looks like No. 2 Anthony Collica or No. 3 Lavion Mayes will be awaiting. Despite this tough road, my money’s on Sorensen at least getting to face Retherford in the semis. He beat Jordan in the dual but lost in the conference tournament, but say it with me, if Sorensen gets to his offense, he’s in business.
Going from a national finalist to a five seed isn’t the happiest thing in the world, here’s to hoping the junior finishes up a hot-and-cold season on the right side of things.
Michael Kemerer — No. 2 at 157
While it wasn’t as severe as the dual against Penn State, the freshman’s still a considerable distance behind No. 1 Jason Nolf, and should have a relatively clean path into the finals for a third bout against the defending champion. A potential Brain Murphy matchup in the quarters and a date with No. 3 Joey Lavallee in the the semis would make his road the toughest, but still managable.
Kemerer didn’t get majored in the Big Ten finals, so that’s progress! It doesn’t seem in the cards this season, but at this point, keeping within striking distance could be considered decent progress. Let’s not forget we have three more seasons of Kem-dawg. The immediate and distant future are bright here, folks.
Joey Gunther — Unseeded at 165
The redshirt freshman gets his first NCAA final match against No. 13 Brandon Womack of Cornell, and a likely rematch with No. 4 Isaac Jordan of Wisconsin if he wins. Should the improbable happen, 1) we should celebrate, and 2) he’d probably get fifth-seeded Chad Walsh in the quarters. This scenario would obviously be huge for the Hawkeyes, but the more likely happening is that Gunther will have to make his way through the backside to provide Iowa with significant contributions.
Alex Meyer — No. 11 at 174
Much like Gunther, Meyer’s probably going to do most of his damage in the consolation bracket. He’d have to down Lehigh’s Ryan Preisch to get to the quarters — it could absolutely happen, but I’d have a hard time putting a lot of stock into that.
Fear not, however, as Meyer’s no stranger to wrestling back to get on the podium. As a surprise All-American last season and a senior wrestling in the last tournament of his life, it’s not hard to see him raise hell in the back and end up on the podium.
Sammy Brooks — No. 3 at 184
I’m going to turn into kind of meathead for a moment — this Flo article angered me. Sammy Brooks is putting together the best wrestling of his career, is a two-time Big Ten Champion, majored Myles Martin in the conference final, and there’s not a doubt in my mind he’ll finish third or better in this tournament.
Sure, he got stuck against Nickal, I do not care. Brooks is a house, that will not happen again. He might get beat, but it’s going to take the best match Nickal’s wrestled this season to beat the Sammy Brooks we’ve seen down the stretch. If he does, there will be bonus points on his way to third place. Bring on Nickal. Bring on Dean. I feel GREAT about Brooks in this tournament, and YOU SHOULD TOO, DAMNIT!
Cash Wilcke — Unseeded at 197
Wilcke got here because of an injury. Win one, Cash.
How to Watch, Follow, Listen
It’s been a fun season, guys. Thanks for following along and reading as the year’s gone along, and thanks for putting up with the new management here at the Pants. Hope the Hawks pleasantly surprise us this weekend.
Radio: KXIC 800, Hawkeye Radio Network Follow: @IowaWrLive, @Hawks_Wrestling, @Andy_Hamilton, @kjpilcher, @IAwrestle, @cuellarchris, @RossWB, @rossbcheck, @DI_Sports_Desk, and, as always, @BHGP.
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