Hawkeyes Advance Eight to Semifinals at Big Ten Tournament

By KJ Pilcher, Reporter

Iowa's Matt McDonough works to turn Michigan State's Brenan Lyon during their 125 pound match in the quarterfinal round of the 2012 Big Ten Championships Saturday, March 3, 2012 at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Ind. McDonough won the match by a major decision. (Brian Ray/ SourceMedia Group News)

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By James Steward

WEST LAFAYETTE, Indiana – The University of Iowa wrestling team got off to a strong start at the Big Ten Wrestling Championships on Saturday morning in front of 3,552 fans at Purdue’s Mackey Arena.

The Hawkeyes had eight semifinalists, tying Penn State with a tournament high, and held second place with 69 points, just 9.5 back of the defending champion Nittany Lions. Seven of those semifinalists already earned automatic berths to the NCAA DIvision I Wrestling Championships on March 15-17 in St. Louis, Mo.

Iowa went 10-2, winning all eight quarterfinal bouts.

“We’re winning, for the most part, but we’ve got to get these guys to build leads at the end,” Brands said.

The ones who did fill the lower three weights. Top-seeded Matt McDonough led the charge with a pin in the opening round and an 11-3 major decision over Brenan Lyon of Michigan State. Tony Ramos and Montell Marion followed with identical 12-2 major decisions at 133 and 141, respectively.

McDonough, who extended his winning streak to 21 matches, faces Jesse Delgado of Illinois. Delgado handed McDonough his only loss of the season in early December. Ramos also faces an Illinois foe for a trip to the finals in B.J. Futrell.

Marion will get a chance to avenge his lone loss with a semifinal match against Ohio State’s Hunter Stieber, who won the first meeting 4-2.

The Hawkeyes claimed a couple wins on the mat that they weren’t supposed to on paper. Returning All-American Derek St. John (157) and freshman heavyweight Bobby Telford were both seeded sixth, knocking of No. 3 seeds to reach the semifinals.

St. John fell into a 4-0 hole and climbed his way out, scoring a decisive takedown with 11 seconds left of sudden-victory overtime for a 6-4 win over Nebraska’s James Green.

“St. John did what he had to do,” Brands said. “That’s a dangerous guy he wrestled. He got to get a hold of a thunderbolt.” Telford scored a pair of takedowns in the opening period and nothced a 6-4 win over Michigan’s Ben Apland.

Second-seeded Mike Evans edged Minnesota’s Cody Yohn, 5-4, in a 165-pound quarterfinal. Iowa 184-pounder Grant Gambrall, seeded fourth despite wrestling just his third match at 184 this season, handled Ohio State’s C.J. Mangrum, 8-1.

“Gambrall looked good,” Brands said.

Ethen Lofthouse (174) also advanced, earning a 4-1 win over Michigan State’s Curran Jacobs.
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