Iowa wrestler Cory Clark earned his first NCAA championship with a 4-3 victory against former teammate Seth Gross in the 133-pound finals of the NCAA Wrestling Championships on Saturday night in St. Louis.
In a gritty, tough match, No. 4-ranked Clark scored a double-leg takedown with 1 minute, 23 seconds left in the match to take a 4-3 lead. He then rode out No. 2-ranked Gross, who now wrestles for South Dakota State, to erase Gross’ riding time and hang on for the national title.
“I said I’m going to be a national champion, that’s about all I said,” Clark told ESPN about his thoughts with 10 seconds left in the match.
Clark celebrated his victory by tossing assistant coach Terry Brands to the mat after the match.
“Just a nice throw,” Clark told ESPN. “He was actually yelling, ‘Throw me!’ I was like, ‘No.’ He was like, ‘Throw me!’ So I threw him.”
— NCAA Wrestling (@ncaawrestling) March 19, 2017
It’s an even more impressive feat considering the injury Clark disclosed Saturday night:
Cory Clark says he has torn ligaments in his wrist, shoulder popped out of socket twice. Thought his season was over many times. "
— Chad Leistikow (@ChadLeistikow) March 19, 2017
It was a fiercely competitive match from start to finish. In a first-period scramble situation, Gross fought off a single-left attempt and covered up Clark (20-3) for a take 1:56 into the match. Clark nearly reversed Gross but settled for an escape in the final 40 seconds.
They exchanged escapes — Clark in the second and Gross in the third — before Clark pulled in his double leg and rode out Gross for the win.
This was Clark’s third straight trip to the NCAA finals and his first title. He ends his career at 98-15 overall and is Iowa’s 19th four-time All-American. Gross falls to 34-2 this year.
In Clark’s final three matches he beat the No. 2 (Gross), No. 1 (Ohio State’s Nathan Tomasello) and No. 5 (Michigan’s Steven Micic) seeded wrestlers.
Other Iowa wrestlers
Three Iowa wrestlers finished in third place during in the consolation rounds Saturday. Thomas Gilman, the No. 1 seed at 125, rallied from a shocking semifinal defeat Friday to win two matches early Saturday.
Gilman (32-1), a senior, beat No. 2 Joey Dance of Virginia Tech in the consolation semifinals and then stopped Oklahoma State’s Nick Piccininni for the second time in the tournament.
“The bigger deal for me is losing, and then refocusing and coming back,” Gilman said afterward. “It not only shows the kind of wrestler I am, but the person I am and the wrestler I’ve become. I’m proud of my maturity and my wrestling today.
“I came here on a mission to be a national champion, but sometimes you get blown off course. You get dropped off somewhere else and you fight your way back. I never aborted the mission. The mission just kind of changed a little bit.”
— NCAA Wrestling (@ncaawrestling) March 18, 2017
Brandon Sorensen (31-5) earned a pair of shutouts in the consolation round. Sorensen, a junior, beat No. 6 Solomon Chishko of Virginia 8-0 then scored a 4-0 decision against No. 4 Micah Jordan. It was the second win for Sorensen against Jordan in the tournament.
“You have to continue to move forward,” Sorensen said afterward. “It’s good mentally to come back for third place and finish the best I can. It’s not where I wanted to be, but I’ll learn from my mistakes and keep moving forward.”
At 157, freshman Michael Kemerer (33-3) bounced back from a quarterfinal loss with four straight wins to finish third. He won two in consolation action on Friday. Then Saturday, Kemerer scored a 9-1 major decision against Tyler Berger of Nebraska before scoring a 6-point move in overtime to beat Oklahoma State’s Joe Smith 7-1 in the consolation finals.
“Third place was the best I could get and it’s good for my confidence to come back and get third,” Kemerer said. “I can come back to this tournament in the future and know that I can win matches no matter how tired and no matter what happens. It feels good.”
At 184, senior Sammy Brooks beat Ohio State’s Myles Martin 6-2 in the consolation semifinals but was pinned by Nebraska’s TJ Dudley in the third-place match. Brooks ends his career at 28-4.
— NCAA Wrestling (@ncaawrestling) March 18, 2017
133 — No. 4. Cory Clark (Iowa) dec. No. 2 Seth Gross (South Dakota State), 4-3
CONSOLATION SEMIFINALS RESULTS
125 — No. 1 Thomas Gilman (Iowa) dec. No. 2 Joey Dance (Virginia Tech), 5-2
149 — No. 5 Brandon Sorensen (Iowa) major dec. No. 6 Solomon Chishko (Virginia Tech), 8-0
157 — No. 2 Michael Kemerer (Iowa) major dec. No. 4 Tyler Berger (Nebraska), 9-1
184 — No. 3 Sammy Brooks (Iowa) dec. No. 6 Myles Martin (Ohio State), 6-2
CONSOLATION FINALS RESULTS
125 — No. 1 Thomas Gilman (Iowa) dec. No. 8 Nicholas Piccininni (Oklahoma State), 13-6
149 — No. 5 Brandon Sorensen (Iowa) dec. No. 4 Micah Jordan (Ohio State), 4-0
157 — No. 2 Michael Kemerer (Iowa) dec. No. 5 Joseph Smith (Oklahoma State), 7-1 SV
184 — No. 7 TJ Dudley (Nebraska) pinned No. 3 Sammy Brooks (Iowa), 2:37