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Photo: Iowa’s Brandon Sorensen defeated Navy’s Jared Prince, 11-6, in this 149-pound first-round match at the 2018 NCAA Division I Championships in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Ginger Robinson)
By Mike Finn
CLEVELAND, Ohio — Someone forgot to tell Iowa that the 2018 NCAA Division I National Championships were only about Ohio State and Penn State Thursday morning at the Quicken Loans Arena.
For it was the Hawkeyes, which were coming off a fourth-place finish at the recent Big Ten Championships, that lead the team race after the first round of the annual national tournament. Iowa’s nine wrestlers won 9 out of 10 matches and added 9.5 bonus points to lead the field by with 18.5 points.
NCAA First-round Brackets and Team Scores
Three Hawkeyes — Michael Kemerer (157), Alex Marinelli (165) and heavyweight Sam Stoll — all scored pins while Vince Turk (141) and Mitch Bowman (184) added major decisions. Turk, who earned an at-large berth to the nationals, won two matches in the morning, including a pigtail match. Last year, Iowa scored 17.5 points over six sessions of the NCAAs and claimed fourth place. In 2016, when Iowa finished fifth, the Hawkeyes managed just 10 points over the entire tournament.
Ohio State, the Big Ten champions, trail Iowa with 17 points as all 10 Buckeye competitors won their bouts. That included seven bonus points as Nathan Tomasello (125) scored a pin, while Joey McKenna (149) and Myles Martin (184) tallied technical falls and both Micah Jordan (157) and heavyweight Kyle Snyder recorded major decisions.
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Defending national champion Penn State saw its nine wrestlers combine to win seven matches and stand in third place with 16 points heading into Thursday evening’s second round. The Nittany Lions, who saw their first two wrestlers — Corey Keener (133) and Nick Lee (141) — lose via pins, got a total of nine bonus points: thanks to a pin by heavyweight Nick Nevills, technical falls by Zain Retherford (149) and Jason Nolf (157), and major decisions by Vincenzo Joseph (165), Mark Hall (174), Bo Nickal (184) and Shakur Rasheed (197).
Michigan and NC State rounded out the top five teams with 13 and 12, points, respectively. All eight Wolverines won their matches and got six bonus points on pins by Drew Mattin (125) and major decisions by Alec Pantaleo (157), Logan Massa (165) and heavyweight Adam Coon. Nine Wolfpack wrestlers went a combined 8-1 on the morning as heavyweight Mike Boykin scored a fall while Hayden Hidlay (157) and Michael Macchiavello added major decisions.
The one team that struggled was Missouri. For a team that went undefeated (19-0) in the regular season, won a seventh straight Mid-American Conference championship and sent nine wrestlers to the national tournament. Unfortunately for the Tigers, only four — Jaydin Eierman (141), Grant Leeth (149), Daniel Lewis (174) and Willie Miklus (197) — won first-round bouts. Among the first-round losers were defending national runner-up Joey Lavallee (149) and No. 5 seed John Erneste (133). Lavallee lost 8-6 to North Carolina’s Kennedy Monday, the son of former Oklahoma State national champion Kenny Monday. Erneste fell to NC State’s Tariq Wilson, 8-3
All ten No. 1 seeds won their initial matches of the double-elimination tournament, but three top-ranked stars struggled: Lehigh’s defending champ Darian Cruz (125), held on to beat Michigan State’s Rayon Foley, 7-4; Wyoming’s Bryce Meredith (141) settled for a 4-1 decision against Cal Poly’s Colton Schilling and Ohio State’s Kollin Moore needed a late takedown to ice a 12-8 win over Utah Valley’s Tanner Orndorff.
Overall, 21 seeded wrestlers lost to unseeded competitors. That included two Oklahoma State wrestlers: 165-pound Chandler Rogers, a 2017 All-American who was seeded eighth, lost 6-5 to Jonathan Viruet of Brown; and 197-pound Preston Wiegel, seeded ninth, was shutout by Kent State’s Kyle Conel, 5-0.
The Cowboys stand in sixth place with nine points, followed by Rutgers (8.5) and Arizona State (9), Cornell (9) and Lehigh (9).