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ST. LOUIS — University of Iowa senior Cory Clark defeated South Dakota State’s Seth Gross, 4-3, on Saturday night to win the 133-pound title at the 2017 NCAA Wrestling Championships.
Clark, a four-time All-American making his third straight finals appearance, scored the match-winning takedown with 1:24 left in the third period to win his first national championship.
“Did I ever think it was going to get done? I thought if it wouldn’t have got done it would have been a disaster because that was my goal as a senior in high school,” Clark said. “I always set high goals. I always said four-time NCAA champ was my goal. I didn’t really tell anybody that, but that was my goal.
“Each year I didn’t accomplish that it hurt me inside. So to get it done this year is incredible. It means a lot. It’s incredible to finally get this done.”
Clark finished his senior season 20-3. He missed significant time throughout the season with wrist and shoulder injuries, but returned to the lineup full-time in the middle of February and won nine of his last 10, including five straight at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
“It wasn’t easy,” Clark said of his final collegiate match. “I wanted to get my mind as still as possible. My brain was kind of racing out on the mat. It took some toughness out of me to really gut that one out. (Gross) is a tough opponent.”
Gross struck first in the match, recording a takedown at the 1:03 mark of the first period. Clark escaped to cut the lead in half and opened the second period with an escape to tie the match, 2-2.
Gross regained the lead with an escape in the third, but with 1 minute and 24 seconds on the clock, Clark finished the winning shot and completed the victory with a rideout.
Clark is the 54th Hawkeye in program history to win an NCAA wrestling title. Those 54 winners have totaled 82 individual national championships. He is also one of just 19 four-time All-Americans in program history.
The Hawkeyes finished the tournament in fourth place with 97 points. Penn State won the team title, followed by Ohio State and Oklahoma State. Iowa finished with five All-Americans, including seniors Clark, Thomas Gilman, and Sammy Brooks, junior Brandon Sorensen, and redshirt freshman Michael Kemerer.