March 7, 2004
Awards | Quotes
COLUMBUS, Ohio - University of Iowa head coach Jim Zalesky has taken his Hawkeyes back to the top of Big Ten Wrestling.
Iowa won the 2004 Big Ten Wrestling Championships Sunday (March 7), the 31st in its illustrious career, denying Minnesota its fourth-straight Conference title. The Hawkeyes were able to hold back a late charge by the Gophers as Iowa finished just five points ahead of Minnesota, 129.5-124.5.
"It feels really good to win, especially this year, because there are a lot of great teams in the Big Ten," said Zalesky, who will send 10 of his grapplers to NCAAs. "Our performance was better this year, but it is tough to win 21 in a row, especially since competition is growing."
Illinois was third with 98.5 points and Michigan was fourth at 96.0. Penn State finished fifth with 90.0, one point ahead of Purdue in sixth at 89.0. Wisconsin (85.0) finished seventh and Ohio State (74.0), Indiana (53.5), Michigan State (36.0) and Northwestern (33.5) rounded out the 11-team field.
Zalesky was named Big Ten Coach of the Year and Illinois' Alex Tirapelle was awarded Big Ten Wrestler of the Year and split Wrestler of the Championship honors with Minnesota's Jacob Volkmann. Penn State's Matt Storniolo was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
Wisconsin's Brady Reinke and John Velez of Northwestern earned the top two Big Ten wildcards. Tyler Turner (1st, WIS), Nathan Moore (2nd, PUR), and DeWitt Driscoll (3rd, PSU) are the alternates.
Here is a quick recap of each of the 10 weight classes:
Wisconsin's Tom Clum captured the Big Ten Championship at 125, defeating top-seeded Luke Eustice of Iowa, 5-3. Clum was in control for the majority of the match, as Eustice, ranked second in the nation, could not muster much offensively. Clum (28-4) was able to get revenge on Eustice, who beat the Badger in the Big Ten dual competition during the regular season, 7-5, in sudden victory. Clum is Wisconsin's first Big Ten Champion since Donny Pritzlaff did so at 165 pounds in 2001.
Illinois' Kyle Ott placed third with a 6-4 decision over Indiana's Joe Dubuque, while Minnesota's Bobbe Lowe captured fifth place with a medical forfeit win, as Michigan's Mark Moos was unable to compete due to injury. Adam Smith of Penn State took home seventh with a 3-2 sudden victory win over Northwestern's John Velez.
Illinois junior Mark Jayne (28-2) upset Michigan's Foley Dowd, 5-4, at 133 pounds to win his first Big Ten title and the 65th overall individual title for the Orange and Blue. Dowd, the second-best wrestler in the nation and undefeated entering the championship final, took an early 2-0 lead on Jayne in the first period. But Jayne, ranked fifth in the nation, used an escape and a takedown in the second period to take a one-point advantage heading into the final period, 3-2. Dowd (16-1) answered with an escape to tie the match but Jayne sealed the win with a takedown with 42 seconds remaining.
Wisconsin's Ed Gutnik scored a 14-4 major decision over Penn State's Josh Moore to claim third place, while Purdue's Rene Hernandez finished fifth, after beating Minnesota's Quincy Osborn, 5-2. Illinois' Jesse Leng fell to unseeded Trent Goodale of Iowa, 6-3, in the seventh-place match.
Unranked and unseeded Doug Withstandley of Purdue pulled off three upsets on his way to the 141 finals, but could not top defending Big Ten champion and top-seed Cliff Moore of Iowa. Moore, who claimed his second-straight Conference title with a 6-2 victory, defeated Withstandley back in the regular season, 9-4, as well.
Indiana's Coyte Cooper claimed third place with a 4-2 decision over Wisconsin's Tyler Laudon. Minnesota's Tommy Owen placed fifth after topping Illinois' Michael Martin, 8-5. Michigan State's Andy Simmons, who entered the No. 2 seed at 141, topped DeWitt Driscoll of Penn State, 12-10, in sudden victory to take home seventh place and a trip to NCAAs.
While Penn State freshman Matt Storniolo (31-8) took home Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors, he couldn't pull off the upset of Michigan's Ryan Churella at 149. Churella (28-3) used several minutes of riding time and a two-point near fall to beat Storniolo, 5-0. The Wolverine clinched his first Big Ten Championship after finishing third at last year's Conference event. Prior to Sunday's final, Churella had competed against Storniolo just once this year, claiming a 6-5 overtime win at the national duals back in January.
"This really means a lot. I took third last year and to win it all this season is a big step heading into NCAA's," Churella said.
Second-seeded Ty Eustice of Iowa placed third with a 7-6 decision over Ohio State's Jeff Ratliff. Fifth place was awarded to Michigan State's Darren McKnight, after a close 6-5 decision over Purdue's Dan Jankowski. Illinois' Anton Dietzen finished off Northwestern's Josh Ballard, 6-1, to take home seventh place.
In perhaps one of the most anticipated matches of the day, top-ranked Alex Tirapelle of Illinois beat Michigan's Ryan Bertin, 6-0. Tirapelle controlled the match beginning with a takedown straight to a cradle with 17 seconds remaining in the first period. He took Bertin to his back to get the five-point move. He added an escape in the second for the sixth point. Tirapelle (31-0) was one of only seven undefeated wrestlers entering the Championships, and now holds a 3-2 advantage over Bertin, who beat the Illini sophomore in last year's NCAA Championship final.
"I am really happy about being able to go undefeated during the season and clinching the Big Ten title," said Tirapelle. "What really means the most though is your performance in the NCAA tournament, so I am looking to have my best performance there."
Purdue's Brad Harper shut out Joe Johnston of Iowa, 2-0, to clinch third place, while Minnesota's Matt Nagel pinned Penn State's James Woodall just 61 seconds into the match to claim fifth. Wisconsin's Tyler Turner dropped a heartbreaker to Northwestern's Mike Kimberlin, 3-2, in the seventh-place match.
Ohio State senior and No.1 seed John Clark (32-9) fell in front of his home crowd to No. 3 Jacob Volkmann of Minnesota. Volkmann, who was named co-Wrestler of the Championships with Alex Tirapelle, scored in the opening minute of the first round with a takedown. He then tallied a nearfall, which Clark reversed to set the match at 6-1. Volkmann added a takedown in the second to take a commanding 8-2 advantage into the second period. Down 14-2 in the third, Clark attempted a rally as he threatened to pin Volkmann, but eventually fell 16-2 after Volkmann scored a reversal. The runner-up mark is the second for Clark, who qualified for his fourth trip to nationals in his career. Volkmann, who is ranked fifth in the nation, finally added first-place hardware to his collection after he placed second at Big Tens and third at NCAAs in 2003.
Michigan's Pat Owen finished third with a 7-2 decision over Illinois' Ben Hay, and Wisconsin's Kelly Flaherty claimed fifth on a medical forfeit after Iowa's Cole Pape could not take the mat due to injury. Northwestern's Nick Hayes placed seventh as he blanked Michigan State's Matt McCarty, 2-0.
Purdue's Ryan Lange accomplished something that no other Boilermaker has done in over 40 years on Sunday. He won his second-consecutive 174-pound Big Ten Championship, defeating Iowa's top-seeded Tyler Nixt, 5-3, in the second tiebreaker period. Lange is Purdue's first repeat Big Ten champion since Bob Marshall won three straight titles from 1960 to 1962. Nixt and Lange went back-and-forth in a match that never seemed like it would end. But after two tiebreaking periods, Lange handed Nixt (30-2) just his second loss on the year, while he improved to 32-3. It was sweet revenge for Lange as earlier this season in Big Ten dual competition, Nixt defeated him in sudden victory, 7-5.
Illinois' Pete Friedl finished third with an 8-1 decision over Minnesota's Jon Duncombe. Brady Richardson brought home fifth place for Indiana with a 9-4 decision against Ralph Denisco of Wisconsin. In seventh place at 174 was Michigan's Nick Roy, who defeated Penn State's James Yonushonis, 9-6.
The Battle of the Bradley's proved to be just that in the championship final at 184. Penn State's Eric Bradley (34-3), the No. 2 seed, captured a 3-2 decision over Iowa's Paul Bradley (21-9) for the Conference title. Eric, who had already won twice against Paul this year and was clearly the aggressor in this match, became Penn State's 12th Big Ten champion (16th title overall).
Ben Wissel of Purdue defeated Michigan State's Nate Mesyn, 5-2, for third place and Minnesota's Josh McLay rolled OSU's Blake Kaplan, 9-2, to earn fifth. Top-seeded Brian Glynn of Illinois got back on track with a 6-5 decision over Wisconsin's Brady Reinke for the seventh-place finish.
Defending Big Ten and NCAA Champion and top-ranked Damion Hahn of Minnesota topped No. 2 seed Ryan Fulsaas of Iowa, 7-2, for the 197 title. Hahn became the school's fourth three-time Big Ten Champion with his third win of the season against Fulsaas. Hahn took an early lead on a takedown at 1:35 and rode Fulsaas for the remainder of the first period. He added to his lead in the second with an escape and another takedown. Fulsaas earned his first points in the third period on a takedown, but Hahn got the immediate escape. He was awarded a bonus point for riding time and claimed the title at 197 pounds.
"This is one of the toughest tournaments in the country and to place first in the Big Ten is a great accomplishment," Hahn said.
Indiana's Pat DeGain pinned Matt Delguyd of Northwestern in 3:32 to earn third place, while Ohio State's J.D. Bergman won a 12-3 major decision over Michigan State's Jeff Clemens to finish fifth. Wisconsin's Ryan Flaherty needed a tiebreaker before winning a 3-2 decision over Purdue's Nathan Moore to grab seventh.
The final match of the 2004 Big Ten Wrestling Championships was everything that it was built up to be. Earlier in the season, Penn State's Pat Cummins marched into Columbus and defeated Ohio State's Tommy Rowlands, 3-2, on his home mat. This time, Rowlands (39-1) made sure he protected his home mat, beating Cummins in a 5-4 decision to claim his second Big Ten Championship. In fact, Rowlands is the first two-time Big Ten champion at Ohio State since Mitch Clark repeated at 197 pounds in 1997 and 1998. The two heavyweights wrestled through a scoreless first period and again tied the match at 1-1 in the second period as Rowlands was awarded a point for a Cummins stall. Rowlands then claimed the lead with a takedown 0:40 in the second period for a 3-1 advantage. Rowlands again gained a two-point advantage after trading escapes with Cummins in the third period at 5-3. Cummins (34-4) then tied the bout with less than a minute remaining with a takedown of his own before Rowlands scored a deciding escape to claim his second career Big Ten title.
"I wasn't surprised by the takedown in the third period," said Rowlands. "He (Cummins) is a tough competitor and I have a lot of respect for him. I'm sure I'll have to wrestle him again sometime during nationals. I felt we wrestled my style this match, which had a good tempo and pace. But I need to get into better shape. I'm going to work really hard next week. Today I just want to think about my great accomplishment and start worrying about nationals tomorrow."
Minnesota's Cole Konrad finished third with a 9-2 decision over Michigan's second-seeded Greg Wagner. Israel Blevins of Purdue took home fifth place, defeating Wisconsin's Jareck Horton, 7-3. Northwestern's Mike Little fell in the seventh-place match to Iowa's Ryan Fuller, 4-1.
In all, 72 Big Ten wrestlers (seven champions from 10 weight classes, plus two additional wildcards) qualified for NCAA competition, which will be held at the Savvis Center in St. Louis, Missouri, March 18-20, 2004. Be sure to follow Big Ten wrestling to the NCAA Championships on www.bigten.org.