Hawkeyes Advance Four To Big Ten Finals

March 7, 2009

UNIVERSITY PARK, PA — The top-ranked Iowa wrestling team advanced four wrestlers to Sunday’s Big Ten Championships finals and is in first place in the team rankings after the first full day of competition. The Hawkeyes, who are the defending team champion and looking for the school’s 33rd conference team title, posted 110 points Saturday, and tallied a 17-7 record. Illinois is in second place with 85 points and one finalist, while Wisconsin is in third place with 83 points and four finalists.

“We are in a war, and we’d better be ready to fight tomorrow,” said Iowa Head Coach Tom Brands. “We came through on two of our last three matches tonight, but those five semifinal losses are hard to swallow. We have a lot of work to do to get ready for tomorrow, and a lot to improve on.”

Hawkeye juniors Brent Metcalf (149), Ryan Morningstar (165), Phillip Keddy (184) and Dan Erekson (Hwt.) each advanced to Sunday’s championship finals. Metcalf, who is the defending 149-pound Big Ten champion, will be wrestling in his second Big Ten final. Morningstar, Keddy and Erekson will all be making their first Big Ten finals appearance.

Metcalf, who is the top seed at 149, scored a 16-4 major decision over #4 Kyle Ruschell in the semifinals. He improved to 32-0 with the win, and extended his winning streak to 64 matches. He has also scored bonus points in his last 17 bouts. Metcalf will face #2 Bubba Jenkins in the Big Ten finals, which will be a rematch of the 2008 NCAA Championship finals. Metcalf won that meeting, 14-8, and has a 3-0 career record against Jenkins.

Morningstar, who is the third seed at 165, upset #2 Colt Sponseller of Ohio State, 2-1 in second tiebreak period. The Hawkeye junior scored an escape with four seconds left in the match to post his 75th career victory. Morningstar will face #1 Andrew Howe of Wisconsin in the finals. Howe won the only meeting between the two – 4-3 in the second tiebreak period based on accumulated riding time at the dual in January.

Keddy also posted an upset, beating #2 Mike Pucillo of Ohio State for the first time in his career. Keddy, who is the third seed, scored a takedown and nearfall points to beat Pucillo, 5-2 in the first tiebreak period. Pucillo had won the three previous meetings with Keddy. The Hawkeye junior will face #1 Jake Herbert in the finals. Keddy is 0-2 against Herbert, losing a close 3-2 decision at the dual in February.

Erekson closed out the round for Iowa with a 6-4 victory over #4 John Wise in the semifinals. The top-seeded Hawkeye will face #2 Kyle Massey of Wisconsin in the finals. Erekson is 1-0 against Massey, scoring a 3-2 decision at the dual in January.

Iowa seniors Charlie Falck (125) and Alex Tsirtsis (141), and juniors Daniel Dennis (133), Jay Borschel (174) and Chad Beatty (197) lost their semifinal bouts and will compete in the Sunday morning’s consolation round. Hawkeye sophomore Matt Ballweg (157) also lost his consolation bout to #7 Anthony Jones of Michigan State, 5-4. Ballweg ends the season with an 11-15 record.

Falck, the #2 seed, lost a 4-0 decision to defending Big Ten champion and third seed Angel Escobedo of Indiana. Falck will face #5 Zach Sanders of Minnesota in the consolations. Sanders won the only previous meeting between the two – a 5-4 decision at the dual in February.

Dennis, the top seed, had his 11-match winning streak snapped by fifth-seed Reece Humphrey of Ohio State in the semifinals, losing a 5-2 decision. Dennis will face #3 Jimmy Kennedy of Illinois in the consolations. The pair were prep teammates at Grant High School in Ingleside, IL, and Dennis holds a 2-0 advantage in the series. Dennis posted a 5-3 decision in the second sudden victory period over Kennedy at the 2008 Midlands and a 5-0 win at the dual in January.

Tsirtsis lost an 8-6 decision in the second tiebreak period to #2 Kellen Russell of Michigan. The third-seeded Hawkeye will face #4 Mike Thorn in the consolations. Tsirtsis is 3-0 against Thorn, winning 2-1 decisions at the National Duals in January and the dual in February.

Borschel had his 10-match winning streak snapped in the semifinals by #3 Quentin Wright of Penn State, losing an 11-10 decision. The second seeded Hawkeye will face #4 Dave Rella of Ohio State in the consolations. It will be the first meeting for the two.

Beatty, the third seed, suffered an injury during the first period of his semifinal match with #2 Tyrel Todd of Michigan. The Hawkeye junior continued with the match, but lost a 12-2 major decision. He will face #4 Gordon Bierschenk of Minnesota in the consolations. Beatty won the pair’s only meeting – a 5-4 decision at the dual in February.

Sunday’s consolation matches will start at 11 a.m. (CT) at Penn State’s Bryce Jordan Center. The finals and placing matches are set to start at 1 p.m. (CT), and will be aired live on the Big Ten Network.

Place Team – Points (Finalists)
1. Iowa – 110 (4)
2. Illinois – 85 (1)
3. Wisconsin – 83 (4)
4. Michigan – 77.5 (3)
5. Penn State – 71.5 (2)
6. Northwestern – 69.5 (3)
7. Minnesota – 64.5 (0)
8. Indiana – 59.5 (1)
9. Ohio State – 58 (1)
10. Purdue – 41 (0)
11. Michigan State – 36.5 (1)

125 – #3 Angel Escobedo (Indiana) dec. #2 Charlie Falck (Iowa), 4-0
133 – #5 Reece Humphrey (Ohio St.) dec. #1 Daniel Dennis (Iowa), 5-2
141 – #2 Kellen Russell (Michigan) dec. #3 Alex Tsirtsis (Iowa), 8-6 TB-2
149 – #1 Brent Metcalf (Iowa) maj. dec. #4 Kyle Ruschell (Wisconsin), 16-4
165 – #3 Ryan Morningstar (Iowa) dec. #2 Colt Sponseller (Ohio St.), 2-1 TB-2
174 – #3 Quentin Wright (Penn St.) dec. #2 Jay Borschel (Iowa), 11-10
184 – #3 Phillip Keddy (Iowa) dec. #2 Mike Pucillo (Ohio St.), 5-2 TB-1
197 – #2 Tyrel Todd (Michigan) maj. dec. #3 Chad Beatty (Iowa), 12-2
Hwt. – #1 Dan Erekson (Iowa) dec. #4 John Wise (Illinois), 6-4

157 – #7 Anthony Jones (Michigan St.) dec. Matt Ballweg (Iowa), 5-4

149 – #1 Brent Metcalf (Iowa) vs. #2 Bubba Jenkins (Penn St.)
165 – #3 Ryan Morningstar (Iowa) vs. #1 Andrew Howe (Wisconsin)
184 – #3 Phillip Keddy (Iowa) vs. #1 Jake Herbert (Northwestern)
Hwt. – #1 Dan Erekson (Iowa) vs. #3 Kyle Massey (Wisconsin)

Complete Saturday Brackets and Team Standings in PDF Format