Hawkeyes Lead Big Ten Team Race

March 5, 2011

Session I Photo Gallery | Big Ten Session I Team Standings & Brackets

EVANSTON, Ill. — The second-ranked University of Iowa wrestling team leads the team standings with 79 points after Saturday’s first session of the 2011 Big Ten Championships in Evanston, Ill. Penn State is in second place with 60 points, while Minnesota is in third with 57.5. The Hawkeyes won 12 of 13 matches in the tournament’s opening session.

Nine Hawkeyes advanced to this evening’s semifinals, including redshirt freshmen Derek St. John (157) and Ethen Lofthouse (174) and senior Luke Lofthouse (197), who had to advance through the preliminary and opening rounds. Sophomore Mark Ballweg (149) fell in his preliminary round match against Michigan’s Eric Grajales, 5-3. He’ll face fifth-seeded Cole Schmitt of Wisconsin in tonight’s wrestle backs.

The Hawkeyes put together 12 straight victories following Ballweg’s opening loss. That run included bonus points from St. John (twice), sophomore Matt McDonough (125), junior Montell Marion (141) and Luke Lofthouse. St. John flattened Ohio State’s Sean Nemic in 2:05 in his 157-pound preliminary round. He later advanced to the semifinals with a 13-4 major decision over Michigan State’s Sean McMurray. St. John will face #3 seed Jason Welch of Northwestern in the semifinals. The Hawkeye redshirt freshman won his only meeting with Welch, 4-2, at the Iowa-Northwestern dual in January.

Luke Lofthouse scored a 12-4 major decision against Northwestern’s John Schoen in his 197-pound pigtail match. He later scored a 5-2 decision against Illinois’ Joseph Barczak to advance to the semifinals, where he’ll face sixth-seeded Logan Brown of Purdue. Brown is 1-0 against Lofthouse, scoring a 3-1 decision in sudden victory at last season’s Iowa vs. Purdue dual. Lofthouse’s win over Schoen was his 50th career victory and his win over Barczak extended his winning streak to eight bouts.

McDonough advanced to the semifinal round with a fall against Wisconsin’s Tom Kelliher. McDonough used a pair of first period takedowns and three nearfall points to build a 7-1 advantage in the opening period. He then used a two-point reversal in the second frame before pinning Kelliher at the 1:30 mark. The pin was McDonough’s 12th of the season and stretched his winning streaking to 10. McDonough will face #5 seed Sean Boyle of Michigan in the semifinals. He has a 2-0 record against the Wolverine, scoring a 14-3 major decision at the Iowa-Michigan dual last season and a 3:56 pin in the dual last month.

Marion used a pair of takedowns and two nearfall points to build a 6-1 first period advantage over Indiana’s Mitchell Richey. He duplicated his performance in the second frame, extending the lead to 12-2, while piling up 2:51 in riding time en route to the 14-4 major decision. Marion will face No. 3 seed Mike Thorn of Minnesota in the semifinals. Marion and Thorn have met four times before, with each coming away with two wins. The Hawkeye junior won the last meeting, 4-3, at the dual in Minneapolis last month.

Ethen Lofthouse advanced to the 174-pound semifinals following a pair of Session I victories. He scored a second-period takedown to grab a 2-1 lead against Illinois’ Ben Friedl and used a third period escape to secure a 3-2 win. He later battled to an upset victory against fourth-seeded Luke Manuel of Purdue. The match was knotted 1-1 in the third frame before Lofthouse picked up a pair of takedowns to grab a 5-2 victory. The fourth-seeded Lofthouse will face top seed Ed Ruth of Penn State in the semifinals. Ruth won the last meeting, a 10-3 decision at the Iowa-Penn State dual in January.

Hawkeye redshirt freshman Tony Ramos, who is seeded third at 133, posted his 11th straight victory with an exciting 4-3 decision over sixth-seeded David Thorn of Minnesota. Down 3-2 with less than 30 seconds left in the match, Ramos scored a takedown to post a win and advance to the semifinals where he will face #2 seed Tyler Graff of Wisconsin. This will be the pair’s first meeting in collegiate competition.

Iowa senior Aaron Janssen used a third period escape to grab a 5-4 lead over Illinois’ Conrad Polz in the 165-pound quarterfinals. He added a takedown as time expired to extend the lead to 7-4 and advance to the semifinals, where he’ll face top-seeded Andrew Howe of Wisconsin in the semifinals. It will be the first collegiate meeting between Janssen and Howe.

Hawkeye sophomore Grant Gambrall scored a takedown near the end of the first period in his 184-pound quarterfinal matchup with Purdue’s A.J. Kissel and entered the third period still hanging on to a 2-0 lead. Kissle opened the third frame with an escape and later scored a takedown to grab a 3-2 lead before Gambrall knotted the score 3-3. Facing a riding time deficit, Gambrall scored a takedown on the edge of the mat with 16 seconds on the clock to pull ahead 5-3. Kissel was awarded the riding time point but Gambrall emerged the winner, 5-4. He will face #2 seed Kevin Steinhaus of Minnesota in the semifinals. Steinhaus posted a close 5-4 decision in the pair’s first meeting last month.

Iowa junior Blake Rasing gave Iowa’s its 12th win of the day with a 3-2 decision over Eric Bugenhagen of Wisconsin. Rasing, who is seeded third, battled back from a 1-0 deficit with a third period escape and a takedown with 25 second left. Leading 3-1, Bugenhagen scored an escape to pull within a point, 3-2, but Rasing held on for the win and advance to the next round. In their first collegiate meeting, Rasing will face #7 seed Joe Rizqallah of Michigan State in the semifinals.

Iowa will continue its pursuit of four straight conference titles in Saturday’s second session of competition, which includes the championship semifinals and two rounds of consolation matches. Competition will begin at 5 p.m. (CT) at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Hawkeye fans can listen to Steven Grace and former Hawkeye two-time NCAA champion and four-time all-American Mark Ironside call the action live on AM-800 KXIC Radio in Iowa City or www.hawkeyesports.com using the XXL All-Access Subscription. Live results and updated tournament brackets will be available throughout the championships at www.bigten.org and www.nusports.com.

Place Team – Points
1. Iowa – 79
2. Penn State – 60
3. Minnesota – 57.5
4. Wisconsin – 42
5. Illinois – 38
6. Michigan – 36
7. Northwestern – 28
8. Indiana – 19
9. Michigan State – 17
10. Ohio State – 17
11. Purdue – 13

IOWA’S BIG TEN SESSION ONE RESULTS (# indicates tournament seed)
Preliminary Round Matches
149 – #6 Eric Grajales (Michigan) dec. Mark Ballweg (Iowa), 5-3
157 – #2 Derek St. John (Iowa) pinned Sean Nemec (Ohio State), 2:05
174 – #5 Ethen Lofthouse (Iowa) dec. Ben Friedl (Illinois), 3-2
197 – #2 Luke Lofthouse (Iowa) maj. dec. John Schoen (Northwestern), 12-4

Championship Quarterfinals
125 – #1 Matt McDonough (Iowa) pinned #8 Tom Kelliher (Wisconsin), 3:30
133 – #3 Tony Ramos (Iowa) dec. #6 David Thorn (Minnesota), 4-3
141 – #2 Montell Marion (I) maj. dec. Mitchell Richey (Indiana), 14-4
157 – #2 Derek St. John (Iowa) maj. dec. #7 Sean McMurray (Michigan State), 13-4
165 – #4 Aaron Janssen (Iowa) dec. #5 Conrad Polz (Illinois), 7-4
174 – #5 Ethen Lofthouse (Iowa) dec. #4 Luke Manuel (Purdue), 5-2
184 – #3 Grant Gambrall (Iowa) dec. #6 A.J. Kissel (Purdue), 5-4
197 – #2 Luke Lofthouse (Iowa) dec. #7 Joseph Barczak (Illinois), 5-2
Hwt. – #3 Blake Rasing (Iowa) dec. #6 Eric Bugenhagen (Wisconsin), 3-2

125 – #1 Matt McDonough (Iowa) vs. #5 Sean Boyle (Michigan)
133 – #3 Tony Ramos (Iowa) vs. #2 Tyler Graff (Wisconsin)
141 – #2 Montell Marion (I) vs. #3 Mike Thorn (Minnesota)
157 – #2 Derek St. John (Iowa) vs. #3 Jason Welch (Northwestern)
165 – #4 Aaron Janssen (Iowa) vs. #1 Andrew Howe (Wisconsin)
174 – #5 Ethen Lofthouse (Iowa) vs. #1 Ed Ruth (Penn State)
184 – #3 Grant Gambrall (Iowa) vs. #2 Kevin Steinhaus (Minnesota)
197 – #2 Luke Lofthouse (Iowa) vs. #6 Logan Brown (Purdue)
Hwt. – #3 Blake Rasing (Iowa) vs. #7 Joe Rizqallah (Michigan State)