When disappointment reigns


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ST. LOUIS — After Cory Clark lost the 133-pound championship match to Oklahoma’s Cody Brewer on March 21, the wrestler came sprinted back through the tunnel from the arena and disappeared into a hallway.

Moments later, a crashing sound, along with some choked-up yelling, could be heard in the background, the sounds of a wrestler upset with the events that had just unfolded on the mat moments earlier.

Brewer had come out early in the match and imposed his will on Clark, getting 2 takedowns in the first period. Clark had gotten escapes both times and while only down 4-2, the hole seemed much bigger.

“I got it going early,” Brewer said. “I think trying to get as many takedowns as I could early. He's real funky off bottom, so it was a little tougher to ride him, I guess, than some of the other opponents I've faced.”

It didn’t get much better for Clark after that; Brewer racked up another 3 takedowns during the second period.

Clark managed to escape from Brewer three times during that second period but was not able to get his offense going until the third period rolled around, when he grabbed a late takedown. Despite Brewer getting knocked for stalling twice ­— giving Clark an extra point — it was too little, to late.

When time expired, he’d lost, 11-8, and the disappointment was palpable.

“We reverted to old habits, and he reverted back to not setting guys up, and that’s not where he’s best,” Iowa head coach Tom Brands said. “When you set things up, even if you don’t get that first takedown, the way you come off the bottom ­— you get back into it with your good stuff.”

Simply put, Clark was not able to go to his familiar moves or anything resembling the way he’d been wrestling most of the rest of the season and especially in his matches leading up to the finals.

“I don't even really know what to say,” Clark, who declined comment, said in a statement released by Iowa. “You’ve just got to keep wrestling the way you’ve been wrestling. You can’t change the way you wrestle. I felt ready to go, but he got to my legs, and I didn't capitalize, and he kept getting to my legs.”

More than anything, Clark’s match — and the NCAA Championships as a whole — seemed as if it was a missed opportunity to win some sort of national championship, team or individual.

That said, Clark is just a sophomore and has two more years to wrestle at Iowa. This is not the end for him, even if the look on his face after the final whistle sounded may have said otherwise.

“We’ve got a lot of wrestling in front of him,” Brands said. “He came out toward the end of the year and wrestled some of his best wrestling, and that’s what you want.

“Let’s pick up where we left off and then build from there, and the next year, we’ll be where we want to be here.”

Follow @JordyHansen on Twitter for news, updates and analysis of the Iowa wrestling team.

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