Both Iowa State and Iowa will be heading home with two wrestlers carrying “stop signs”. Earl Hall at 61 kg and Nathan Burak at 97 kg each captured their first University National title in Akron, Ohio.
Hall completed his dominant tournament by winning 7-0 over Michigan’s Rossi Bruno in what was a rematch of the Southern Scuffle finals from this past January. Hall ended the day surrendering just two points in his quarterfinal match, but that would prove to be his only blemish.
Nathan Burak entered the finals at his weight not giving up a single point to the competition and had it not been for a passivity point in the first, he might have kept that performance all the way through. He won 12-1 over the freshman from Oklahoma State, really pilling on the points in the second period.
Ethen Lofthouse was the lone hiccup in the finals, as he fell 12-5 to Hayden Zilmer of North Dakota State at 86 kg. Zilmer opened to a 4-0 lead over the former Hawkeye All-American and never looked back. Lofthouse looked like he was closing the gap at one point in the match, but Zilmer was able to put the pressure back on and won the final.
Despite rallying all the way back to the third place match after a quarterfinals loss, Phil Laux once again ran into the man that gave him first tournament loss, Tim Lambert of Nebraska. Lambert was victorious once again with an 11-2 defeat over the Hawkeye, with Laux bringing home fourth at 57 kg.
Hawkeye Brandon Sorensen responded after a tough loss in the consolation semifinals to 10-0 technical fall in the 70 kg fifth place match over John Boyle. It wasn’t the finish most Hawkeye fans were hoping for after he finished fourth at the NCAA championships in March, but this was great experience for the young wrestler and hopefully he will head back to Iowa City with a few new lessons learned.
Renaldo Rodrgiuez-Spencer finished off his strong tournament with a fourth place finish at 70 kg. For a team looking for a wrestler to step and take hold of the 157 pound weight class in the Cyclone lineup, Rodriguez-Spencer looked the part making the semifinals and even taking a 4-0 lead over Jason Tsirtsis. He lost 9-4 in the third place match to Taylor Berger, who had a strong tournament of his own taking of Hawkeye Sorensen in the match before.
Iowa State had a pair of wrestlers in the seventh place match, and both came out on top of their opponents in superior fashion. Mike Moreno earned a fall in under a minute at 74 kg to finish seventh, and teammate Blayne Briceno put up a 10-0 technical fall in his match at 70 kg.
Alex Meyer did in fact improve his finish from a season ago by winning 13-2 over Micah Barnes and then 7-6 over Mike Ottinger to end his day in the third place match. Meyer’s only loss in the tournament was to Stanford’s Jim Wilson, who finished runner up.
After entering as the favorite in the weight class, Pat Downey came all the way back from his quarterfinal upset to make the third place match in the 86 kg weight. The only problem was he ran into Panther Wrestling Club’s Ryan Loder who wound up winning 5-5 on criteria against the former Junior World medalist. Downey, who won a NJCAA title for Iowa Central this past season is expected to take an Olympic redshirt to get ready for Rio.
In what was a rematch of the 86 kg quarterfinals, Sammy Brooks went out and faced Brett Pfarr for the second time on the day. After a scoreless first two minutes, Pfarr was put on the shot clock which earned Brooks a point, which ended the first period 1-0 in favor of the Hawkeye.Brooks got an additional pushout in the second and added takedown to make it 4-0. Brooks ended the match with a 6-0 victory over the Gopher to take fifth.
Closing things out was Panther Blaize Cabell at 125 kg, who took sixth. Cabell looked good in the tournament making the semifinals of his weight, but then he ran into the brick wall known as Adam Coon. Coon is reknowned for having a knack for freestyle and Greco-Roman (he’s not bad at folkstyle either). Cabell faced off against Ty Walz in the fifth place match, and after being upset by Cabell in Cedar Falls this past January, Walz got his revenge winning 6-4 over the Panther.