Five Big Ten Teams Finish In Top-10, While Three Grapplers Crowned Champions At NCAA Championships
March 22, 2004
This past weekend at the 2004 NCAA Wrestling Championships in St. Louis, Mo., five Big Ten squads placed in the top 10, and three Big Ten student-athletes were crowned national champions.
Iowa scored 82 points to place second for the fifth time in school history. Oklahoma State won its second consecutive team title, scoring 123.5 points. Hawkeye senior Cliff Moore finished first with a 5-2 victory over Nebraska's Matt Murray at 141 pounds to become Iowa's 47th NCAA Champion. He ends his Hawkeye career with a 108-24 mark, going 33-2 this season. Moore became Iowa's 27th three-time all-American with his national title.
Ohio State's Tommy Rowlands put the exclamation point on his career by capturing the heavyweight title. The first four-time All-American in OSU history completed the run to his second career NCAA championship with a 6-2 decision over Penn State's Pat Cummins. Rowlands joins Kevin Randleman, who won the NCAA titles at 177 pounds in 1992 and 1993, as the only Buckeye to win two NCAA crowns. The win by Rowlands earned Ohio State its highest finish at the national meet as the Buckeyes scored a tie for third-place with Lehigh at 77.5 team points.
University of Illinois sophomore 125-pounder Kyle Ott made a run through the NCAA Championship bracket to make the national finals in his first appearance in the tournament, capping a phenomenal 25-5 season. Ott lost to top-ranked Jason Powell of Nebraska, 17-2, to take second-place. As a team, the Illini took seventh-place overall, two spots up from last season's ninth-place finish. The Top-10 finish marks the fifth straight under head coach Mark Johnson and eighth in the last 10 years. Ott also becomes Johnson's 14th finalist in 12 years at the helm.
Minnesota senior Damion Hahn became the Gophers' third two-time NCAA Champion with a 7-2 decision against 10th-seeded Ryan Fulsaas of Iowa. Hahn joins Vern Gagne and Tim Hartung as the school's two-time national champions. As a team, the University of Minnesota finished in eighth with 65.5 points. Senior Jacob Volkmann and redshirt freshman Cole Konrad both earned fourth-place finishes.
Sophomore Ryan Churella and junior Ryan Bertin fought back through the consolation bracket to claim third place at 149 and 157 pounds, respectively, as the No. 3 University of Michigan wrestling team finished 10th with 60.5 points. In a rematch of last year's NCAA 157-pound final, Bertin and Illinois' top-seeded Alex Tirapelle squared off against each other in the match for third place. After losing to the Illini wrestler twice this season, including the Big Ten final just two weeks ago, Bertin broke a 1-1 tie with a third-period takedown to claim the 3-1 victory and a third-place finish.
Penn State's first NCAA finalists in four years ended outstanding careers as senior All-Americans Josh Moore and Pat Cummins both fell in their championship matches.
Moore fell 7-3 to No. 5 seed Zach Roberson of Iowa State and Cummins dropped a 6-2 decision to Rowlands of Ohio State. The Nittany Lions, who finished 12th in the team standings with 46.5 points, have now finished in the Top 20 in 22 of the last 25 tournaments.
Purdue finished 27th overall, ahead of Indiana (28th) and Wisconsin (T-29th.)