EVANSTON, Illinois — The University of Iowa wrestling team won three individual titles and scored a team total of 150.5 points to win the 54th annual Midlands Championships on Friday at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
In the team point race, Iowa was followed by Nebraska (135.5), Arizona State (106.5), Rutgers (93), Illinois (83), and NC State (78).
“The team title is important, but three champions, two third-place finishes, having two true freshmen place, and having nine placers overall, that’s what’s important,” said UI head wrestling coach Tom Brands.
The Hawkeyes crowned three champions, including Thomas Gilman (125), Brandon Sorensen (149), and Michael Kemerer (157). Gilman and Sorensen defended their respective titles.
Top- seeded Gilman took the 125 title for the third time in four years at the Midlands Championships. He won titles in 2013 and 2015, and finished second in 2014.
Gilman gathered his fifth bonus-point win of the tournament with a major decision over second-seeded Tim Lambert (Nebraska), 13-4, in the finals. He was voted “Champion of Champions” by his fellow first-place finishers and was awarded the “Dan Gable Most Outstanding Wrestler” of the weekend. Gilman closes the 54th Midlands Championships with an overall tournament record of 20-3.
“It’s not about the win, it’s how you win,” Gilman said. “I can win. I can win against anyone, but it’s how I beat those guys that matters… if I’m doing the right things, I’m trying to get the most out of myself all the time and if I get the most out of myself the team race will take care of itself.”
Sorensen, seeded No. 1 at 149, earned his second consecutive Midlands championship after defeating the No. 2 seed Justin Oliver (Central Michigan) in sudden victory. At the end of regulation, the wrestlers were tied at one, but Sorensen put together a takedown and four-point nearfall sequence in overtime to defend his title.
Redshirt freshman Kemerer earned his title at 157 pounds in exciting fashion against top-seeded Tyler Berger (Nebraska). The wrestlers battled through two sudden victory overtimes, exchanging escapes and official reviews with Kemerer prevailing in a 6-5 decision. The No 2 seed tallied a 6-0 record in the tournament and improved on last year’s fifth-place finish.
“Sometimes during the breaks they were taking away my points, sometimes they were taking away his points, but I just had to clear my mind quickly and get ready to wrestle,” Kemerer said. “Ultimately going out there and attacking quick is the best way to do it”.
Iowa closed out the Midlands Championships with two third-place finishes, as fourth-seeded Sammy Brooks (184) and third-seeded Sam Stoll (285) each won their consolation finals matches. Brooks gathered his second third-place finish in four years after defeating fifth-seeded Nathan Jackson (Indiana) 10-5, while Stoll pinned Gage Hutchinson (Eastern Michigan) in 4:44 to place third for the second straight year.
Freshman Alex Marinelli, wrestling unattached at 165, and senior Alex Meyer, seeded second at 174, both collected fourth-place finishes in their respective weight classes. Marinelli was pinned by his fourth-seeded opponent, Arizona State’s Anthony Valencia, while Meyer fell to Illinois’ Zac Brunson, 9-5.
Kaleb Young, wrestling unattached, placed fifth in his Midlands debut with a 9-4 decision over Lorenzo De La Riva of CSU Bakersfield. Young went 5-2 at the tournament and is 19-5 overall this season.
Iowa returns to action Friday, Jan. 6 at Michigan. Action is set to begin at 6 p.m. (CT) in Ann Arbor.
“We’ve got to be ready to go,” Brands said. “We’ve got to be ready for a team, going into Cliff Keen Arena, that’s going to do what they can to derail us.”
CHAMPIONSHIP RESULTS (# indicates tournament seed)
125 – #1 Thomas Gilman (IA) major dec. #2 Tim Lambert (Nebraska), 13-4
149 – #1 Brandon Sorensen (IA) dec. #2 Justin Oliver (Central Michigan), 7-1
157 – #2 Michael Kemerer (IA) dec. #1 Tyler Berger (Nebraska), 6-5
THIRD PLACE RESULTS
165 – #4 Anthony Valencia (Arizona State) pinned #9 Alex Marinelli (Unat. IA), 2:40
174 – #4 Zac Brunson (Illinois) dec. #2 Alex Meyer (IA), 9-5
184 – #4 Sammy Brooks (IA) dec. #5 Nathan Jackson (Indiana), 10-5
286 – #3 Sam Stoll (IA) pinned Gage Hutchinson (Eastern Michigan), 4:44
FIFTH PLACE RESULTS
165 – Kaleb Young (Unat. IA) dec. Lorenzo De La Riva (CSU Bakersfield), 9-4