CLEVELAND — Iowa started strong and was in first place after the opening session of the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships.
The Hawkeyes went 9-1, tallying 18 1/2 team points for a slight edge over second-place Ohio State, which has 17, after the first session Thursday.
“That is a sign we are doing some good things,” Iowa Coach Tom Brands said. “We have to continue that. That’s the message. Continue that. Start with Spencer Lee tonight and right up through Stoll.”
Iowa’s performance was highlighted by a rush of bonus points, starting with 141-pounder Vince Turk’s major decision in the pigtail round. Third-seeded Spencer Lee followed with a technical fall at 125, needing just 1:41 to beat Tennesse-Chattanooga’s Alonzo Allen.
Michael Kemerer (157), Alex Marinelli at 165 and heavyweight Sam Stoll added pins for Iowa. Mitch Bowman posted a mild upset, notching a 10-2 major decision over Missouri’s 15th-seeded Canten Marriott at 184.
“It’s a big deal,” Brands said of bonus points. “It’s a philosophy tougher to execute than it is to say it. Our guys did a good job this round.”
Turk and 14th-seeded Cash Wilcke added some late-match dramatics to advance from the first round. Turk trailed 3-0 when he took down and earned two nearfall at the buzzer to Indiana’s 16th-seeded Cole Weaver, 4-3. Wilcke scored an escape takedown in the final seconds to drop Nebraska’s Eric Schultz, 4-3.
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“We want to keep improving and maybe control things a little bit more,” Brands said. “Keep wrestling matches 420 seconds long. ... Both guys did that. Paid off for them.”
The tournament becomes much harder and tougher matches await the Hawkeyes.
“This can be a lot of fun,” Brands said. “Make it go your way and it’s a lot of fun. That’s what we want to do. We want to keep it rolling. What what we do best. Wrestle our matches.”
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