The Iowa Hawkeyes’ hopes for their first national title since 2010 were dashed by a tough performance in the NCAA semifinals Friday night in St. Louis.
The Hawkeyes dropped three of their four semifinal matches to finish the night in fifth place with 74 points. Big Ten rival Penn State won all five matches and is well ahead of the field in first place with 121 points.
Iowa’s tenacious Cory Clark advanced to the NCAA finals for the third straight year with a 7-4 win against top-ranked Nathan Tomasello of Ohio State in a 133-pound semifinal Friday in St. Louis.
Clark (19-3), the No. 4 seed, trailed entering the third period but scored a pair of takedowns — the final with 18 seconds left in the match — and earned a point of riding time to pull out the victory. It was a revenge of sorts after Tomasello escaped from Clark with 1 second left in the Big Ten finals and gained the league crown with a 5-4 win.
“You want to take it slow, and I outwrestle you, then I’m going to get two,” Clark told ESPN after the match.
Clark has missed several meets with a left shoulder injury, for which he still wears a harness.
“I’ve had days where I’ve felt sorry for myself so this season has been up and down,” Clark told ESPN. “But toward the end of the year, I sucked it up and I put every amount of effort into each and every day and look where it got me.”
Clark will wrestle former Iowa teammate No. 2 Seth Gross (34-1) of South Dakota State in the finals on Saturday night. Clark is Iowa’s 19th four-time All-American.
— NCAA Wrestling (@ncaawrestling) March 18, 2017
Iowa’s top-ranked Thomas Gilman dropped a 4-2 decision in sudden victory to Lehigh’s No. 4 Darian Cruz in a 125-pound semifinal in St. Louis.
Locked in a 0-0 match but with more than 2 minutes of riding time after the second period, Gilman gave up a takedown with only seconds left. Gilman escaped with a second left and with a point for riding time, he knotted the match at 2-2.
In a scramble midway through the overtime period, Cruz maneuvered around Gilman and secured the takedown for a 4-2 win.
Gilman (30-1) was a machine all year. He entered the NCAA Tournament by scoring extra points in 23 of 27 matches. He’s never won a national title.
In the 149-pound semifinals, Penn State’s Zain Retherford pinned Iowa’s Brandon Sorensen in 2 minutes, 36 seconds. It was a rematch of last year’s national title, which Retherford also won. They wrestled in a dual this year in Iowa City and Retherford beat Sorensen 9-8 in double-overtime.
Iowa’s Sammy Brooks (27-3), the two-time defending Big Ten champion at 184, was pinned by Penn State’s Bo Nickal in 1:01. Nickal pinned Brooks in 38 seconds in their last match.
After a quarterfinal defeat, Iowa’s No. 2-ranked Michael Kemerer earned a 14-3 win against Penn’s May Bethea in a consolation match Friday. At 174, Alex Meyer lost 13-10 to Alex Crutchmer of Oklahoma State.