Iowa wrestlers go without championship at Big Ten tournament
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — One wall in the Iowa wrestling room has the names of all the past Hawkeye Big Ten champions written on it. Earlier this week, Iowa wrestling coach Tom Brands said the tournament was a chance for his wrestlers to “stamp” their names on this same wall with past Hawkeye legends.
For the first time since 2006, no one did.
The Hawkeyes lost all four of their title matches and finished in third place, 5.5 points behind Minnesota and 17.5 behind Penn State — which won its third-straight conference title.
“It’s not rocket science,” head coach Tom Brands said. “We’ve got to be tougher. We’ve got to do certain things to be tougher … It starts with finishing and urgency in those situations.”
Iowa’s first finalist of the night, senior Matt McDonough, faced the only opponent ever to beat him twice: Jesse Delgado of Illinois. Immediately after the opening whistle, Delgado dove at McDonough’s ankle and tripped him up for a takedown.
The Illini sophomore beat McDonough’s defense to his legs for takedowns repeatedly throughout the match, racking up five takedowns in a 10-4 win. It was McDonough’s third loss this season, the most he has ever had. McDonough, who declined to speak after his match, made perhaps a bigger statement by tossing his second place medal in the trash.
Delgado said afterward that opponents “aren’t scared of him anymore.”
“I think I’m a lot faster than he is,” Delgado said. “He’s not stopping me if I’m on my ‘A’ game. Bottom line.”
Brands said that McDonough would need to better handle Delgado’s quickness in order to beat him in the NCAA Tournament and take advantage of his “cat-chasing tail, go-behind type of stuff.”
“The key is going to be to stop him. He knows what he has to do, but he’s not doing it.”
After McDonough’s loss, junior Tony Ramos took the mat against the opponent he has longed to face all season: Ohio State’s Logan Stieber, a defending national champion who defeated Ramos twice last season.
A much-improved Ramos waited all season to prove he had caught up to Stieber. Unfortunately in overtime, the Buckeye sophomore worked his way into a bear hug and muscled Ramos over for the winning takedown.
“I let him get in too deep,” Ramos said. “I was fighting and went for the last resort and throw him. It didn’t work, so I’ve got to get some offense quicker … I’ve got two weeks to get it right.”
Iowa’s tough round of finals appearances was only half over.
Senior Mark Ballweg never got much offense going in an 8-3 loss to Ohio State’s Hunter Stieber.
Sophomore Mike Evans got caught on his back in a scramble, giving up a 5-point move that he never recovered from in a 6-3 loss to Penn State’s Matt Brown.
It wasn’t all bad for Iowa. Ethen Lofthouse bounced back from a tough February and won third place. Derek St. John lost in the semifinals on March 9 but won a pin and a decision to place third. Heavyweight Bobby Telford also took third.
But while Iowa went 0-4 in the championship round, the Nittany Lions went 4-0 and once again separated from the rest of the Big Ten field.
“The whole team is the heart of our lineup,” said Penn State’s 184-pound champion Ed Ruth. “Every year I’ve been on this team, we’ve won the conference. I love it. That’s how we see ourselves.”
In today's issue: