March 18, 2016
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By DARREN MILLER
NEW YORK — Grapple on the Gridiron has become Grapple in the Garden for University of Iowa sophomore Brandon Sorensen and Oklahoma State junior Anthony Collica on Friday evening in Madison Square Garden.
When the 149-pounders met Nov. 14 inside Kinnick Stadium at Grapple on the Gridiron, Sorensen handed Collica his first loss of the season, 6-1. A rematch will be held in a semifinal of the NCAA Wrestling Championships — albeit in front of about 25,000 less spectators than their first bout.
“I have wrestled him before,” Sorensen said minutes after advancing with a 4-2 quarterfinal victory in sudden victory 2 over Jake Sueflohn of Nebraska. “I kind of know what he is about, he knows what I’m about. It’s going to be a good match, so let’s go out there and come out on top.”
Sorensen, the No. 2 seed, brings record of 31-1 into the match; Collica, seeded 11th, is 31-7. To reach Sorensen, Collica needed upsets against sixth-seeded Jason Tsirtsis of Northwestern (3-2) and third-seeded Lavion Mayes of Missouri (3-2).
With the win over Sueflohn, Sorensen assures himself of a top-six finish, making him an All-American for a second year in a row. It took a little more effort in 2015 when Sorensen lost in the second round and won five times on the back side of the bracket to finish fourth.
“It’s a lot better being on the front side still, knowing you’re an All-American,” Sorensen said. “I’m going to go there and wrestle and do what I can — if I can’t, I’m going to force it and get to my shots. That’s what I have to do.”
“I have wrestled him before. I kind of know what he is about, he knows what I’m about. It’s going to be a good match, so let’s go out there and come out on top.”
UI sophomore 149-pounds
Sorensen improved to 4-0 against Sueflohn and the two-point margin of victory was indicative of their previous three battles. Sorensen came out on top of those by scores of 7-4, 6-5, and 5-2.
“He knows what I’m going to do, I kind of know what he is going to be doing,” Sorensen said. “He did a good job controlling my hands, which is not good on my part. (He) slowed it down. That is not where I want to be. I don’t like being there, but it just kind of happened.”
The NCAA semifinals begin at 7 p.m. (CT) and Sorensen will be the third Hawkeye to take the mat. Juniors Thomas Gilman (125 pounds) and Cory Clark (133) are also semifinalists, along with senior Nathan Burak (197). Clark and Burak are three-time All-Americans.
“There is still work to be done,” Sorensen said. “There is an opponent in front of me; if I win that one I will have another opponent in front of me. But you can’t think about that right now. You have to focus on the guy in the semis. I’ll get ready for that.”
Powered by the four semifinalists, the Hawkeyes jumped to third in the team race with 48.5 points, 20 behind Penn State and 5.5 in back of Ohio State. Also alive on the backside of the bracket for Iowa are juniors Alex Meyer (174) and Sammy Brooks (184).
To read a complete recap of Session III, click HERE.