March 4, 2012
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The University of Iowa wrestling team crowned two individual champions on its way to a third place finish at the 2012 Big Ten Championships. Junior Matt McDonough and sophomore Derek St. John each brought home conference titles. The Hawkeyes posted 126 team points. Penn State (149) and Minnesota (134) finished first and second, respectively.
“We’ll go home and we’ll analyze,” said head coach Tom Brands. “We have NCAAs coming up and that’s a big one. You want to stamp your name up there. We have another opportunity so we’ll see.”
McDonough won his second-consecutive 125 pound Big Ten championship with a 6-1 decision over Minnesota’s second-seeded senior Zach Sanders. After a scoreless first period, McDonough opened the second period with an escape and a quick takedown with a low single leg. He added another takedown in the third and a point for 1:23 riding time to improve to 7-0 in his career against Sanders.
“This is what you work for throughout the season,” said McDonough. “It’s the next thing on the lineup. It’s still just a stepping stone though. It’s a stepping stone to nationals, it’s a barometer, but it’s important.”
St. John won the title, 4-3, in a stirring finals match against Northwestern’s Jason Welch at 157 pounds. The top-seeded Welch struck first with a takedown early in the first period. A pair of escapes from St. John tied the match before Welch regained the lead, 3-2, escaping with 35 seconds left in the third. After some flurrying scrambles, St. John capitalized on his position and scored the winning takedown with 14 seconds left in the match. Wrestling from the sixth seed, St. John handed Welch his first loss of the season and won the first Big Ten title of his career.
“It feels good,” said St. John. “It’s not good to win at the end like that. But a win is a win. It feels good to finally get one, but you want them all.”
Sophomore Tony Ramos (133), senior Montell Marion (141), redshirt freshman Michael Evans (165) and redshirt freshman Bobby Telford (285) all finished second after dropping their respective championship bouts. Ramos lost 5-2 against Ohio State’s redshirt freshman and top-seeded Logan Stieber. Michigan senior Kellen Russell won his fourth Big Ten title with a 7-2 decision over Marion and Evans fell, 11-2, in his championship match against the undefeated top seed from Penn State, David Taylor. Despite not giving up a takedown, Telford lost the heavyweight title match, 2-0, to Minnesota’s top-seeded Tony Nelson. Nelson escaped in the second period and rode Telford the length of the third frame to win the title.
Sophomore Ethen Lofthouse topped Northwestern’s Lee Munster, 7-2, in the consolation championship bout. The third-seeded Lofthouse scored his first points with a takedown with just two seconds left in the second period. Adding a reversal and takedown in the third, along with 1:33 of riding time, Lofthouse recorded his second win over Munster this season. Lofthouse earned his spot in the consolation finals with a 9-6 decision over Illinois’ eighth-seeded Jordan Blanton. He jumped out to an early lead with two takedowns in the first period, one coming just 11 seconds into the bout.
Junior Grant Gambrall finished with a solid 8-2 decision over Michigan State’s Ian Hinton in the fifth place match. Gambrall came out with an early takedown and never looked back, adding two more takedowns and 1:51 of riding time. He matched his fifth place finish from the 2011 Big Ten Championships.
The Hawkeyes have automatically qualified eight wrestlers (McDonough, Ramos, Marion, St. John, Evans, Lofthouse Gambrall and Telford) for the upcoming NCAA Championships. At-large bids and seeds will be announced Wednesday, March 7. The NCAA Championships will be held March 15-17 at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo.
FINAL BIG TEN TEAM STANDINGS
Place Team – Points
1. Penn State – 149
2. Minnesota – 134
3. Iowa – 126
4. Illinois – 105.5
5. Ohio State – 91
6. Northwestern – 75
7. Michigan – 66
8. Nebraska – 65
9. Purdue – 51.5
10. Indiana – 41
Michigan State – 41
12. Wisconsin – 9
IOWA’S BIG TEN SESSION THREE RESULTS (# indicates tournament seed)
125 – #1 Matt McDonough (Iowa) def. #2 Zach Sanders (Minnesota), 6-1
133 – #1 Logan Stieber (Ohio State) def. #2 Tony Ramos (Iowa), 5-2
141 – #1 Kellen Russell (Michigan) def. #3 Montell Marion (Iowa), 7-2
157 – #6 Derek St. John (Iowa) def. #1 Jason Welch (Northwestern), 4-3
165 – #1 David Taylor (Penn State) maj. #2 Mike Evans (Iowa), 11-2
Hwt. – #1 Tony Nelson (Minnesota) def. #6 Bobby Telford (Iowa), 2-0
174 – #3 Ethen Lofthouse (Iowa) def. #9 Lee Munster (Northwestern), 7-2
184 – #4 Grant Gambrall (Iowa) def. #8 Ian Hinton (Michigan State), 8-2