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ST. LOUIS — University of Iowa senior Cory Clark scored two takedowns in the third period to defeat top-seeded Nathan Tomasello and advance to the 133-pounds finals of the 2017 NCAA Wrestling Championships on Friday night at the Scottrade Center.
Clark, a four-time All-American making his third straight NCAA finals appearance, entered the final period trailing 3-1. He escaped to pull within a point, 3-2, and scored two takedowns in the final 1:01, including the go-ahead score with 19 seconds on the clock. He added a point for riding time to advance a 7-4 winner.
“Tough match. Good, hard-fought match,” said Clark, the No. 4 seed. “It wasn’t pretty in my favor, but I got the “W”. I’m always going out there to wrestle hard and when I got out there I felt loose and relaxed. When I’m feeling that way I’m tough to beat.”
Clark is looking for his first win on Saturday’s big stage after consecutive runner-up finishes in 2015 and 2016. His opponent Saturday night South Dakota State’s Seth Gross, who was a teammate of Clark prior to his arrest in March 2015.
“I’m not going to take him lightly,” Clark said. “I know he wants to win this national championship and I know he would love to stick it up my you know what. No one else can control how that match goes but me. My coaches have prepared me but it’s all in my hands from here on out.”
Clark’s berth in the finals marks the 28th consecutive season Iowa has placed a wrestler in the national finals.
Clark was the only one of four Iowa semifinalists to advance to the finals. Brandon Sorensen and Sammy Brooks both suffered first-period falls at 149 and 184, respectively, and Thomas Gilman dropped a 4-2 decision in overtime at 125. The loss was Gilman’s first of the season in 31 matches.
Gilman, Sorensen, and Brooks compete in the consolation semifinals Saturday morning. They’re joined by Michael Kemerer. The freshman 157-pounder strung together consecutive major decisions on the back side of the bracket to guarantee himself All-America honors. He is the sixth Hawkeye freshman to earn All-America honors under head coach Tom Brands (Matt McDonough, Derek St. John, Bobby Telford, Cory Clark, Brandon Sorensen, Michael Kemerer).
The Hawkeyes lost two wrestlers in the consolation bracket. Senior Alex Meyer and redshirt freshman Cash Wilcke each fell one win shy of the All-America stand. Meyer’s season ends with a 26-9 overall record. Wilcke was 19-13 in his rookie campaign.
“Tomorrow is important,” Brands said. “Getting two wins from Kemerer helped. We addressed (the consolations) at the end of last year and beginning of this year. We’ve communicated that the third day does matter.”
The Hawkeyes are in fifth place following the semifinals. The All-America round begins Saturday at 10 a.m. (CT). The finals begin at 7 p.m. (CT). ESPN will televise the finals. ESPN3 will stream the All-America round.
125 – #4 Darian Cruz (Lehigh) dec. #1 Thomas Gilman (Iowa), 4-2 SV
133 – #4 Cory Clark (Iowa) dec. #1 Nathan Tomasello (Ohio State), 6-4
149 – # 1 Zain Retherford (Penn State) pinned #5 Brandon Sorensen (Iowa), 2:37
184 – #2 Bo Nickal (Penn State) pinned #3 Sammy Brooks (Iowa), 1:59
157 – #2 Michael Kemerer (Iowa) major dec. May Bethea (Penn), 14-3
157 – #2 Michael Kemerer (Iowa) major dec. Paul Fox (Stanford), 15-6
174 – #7 Kyle Crutchmer (Oklahoma State) dec. #11 Alex Meyer (Iowa), 13-10
197 – #10 Kevin Beazley (Old Dominion) dec. Cash Wilcke (Iowa), 7-6
133 – #4 Cory Clark (Iowa) vs. #2 Seth Gross (South Dakota State)
125 – #1 Thomas Gilman (Iowa) vs. #2 Joey Dance (Virginia Tech)
149 – #5 Brandon Sorensen (Iowa) vs. # 6 Solomon Chishko (Virginia Tech)
157 – #2 Michael Kemerer (Iowa) vs. #4 Tyler Berger (Nebraska)
184 – #3 Sammy Brooks (Iowa) vs. #6 Myles Martin (Ohio State)
- Penn State 121.0
- Ohio State 89.5
- Oklahoma State 86.0
- Missouri 81.5
- Iowa 74.0
- Minnesota 60.0
- Cornell 57.5
- Virginia Tech 53.5
- Nebraska 50.0
- Illinois 41.5