Iowa advances five to the Big Ten semifinals

Hawkeyes in third behind Penn State and Ohio State

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Plenty of work remains for the Iowa wrestling team.

Some have a little more work in front of them.

Five Hawkeyes advanced to the semifinals of the Big Ten Wrestling Championships on Saturday at Indiana University’s Assembly Hall. Iowa tallied 55 1/2 points and was in third place behind Penn State (70) and Ohio State (68) after the first session of the two-day national qualifier.

Each of Iowa’s 16 matches went according to seeds. Top-seeded 125-pounder Thomas Gilman, No. 3 Cory Clark and second-seeded Brandon Sorensen (149), Michael Kemerer (157) and Sammy Brooks (184) all won quarterfinal bouts. The other five Hawkeyes remain in consolation competition.

“I like when you’re winning big and you’re doing the things that you’re supposed to be doing, wrestling sharp and smart,” Iowa Coach Tom Brands said. “It’s early in the tournament and a lot to still be fighting for, whichever side of the bracket you’re on. That’s the bottom line here.”

Iowa started strong with a 6-1 mark in the opening round, but followed that with a 5-4 quarterfinal mark. Topher Carton (141), Joey Gunther (165), 174-pounder Alex Meyer and 197-pounder Cash Wilcke fell before Saturday night’s semifinals.

“There are roller coasters in tournaments so you’ve got to ride them,” Brands said. “You want to stay high but we have a lot of matches to go, right now.”

The Hawkeyes did manage to accumulate much needed bonus points. They racked up three pins, a technical fall and four major decisions for 11 1/2 extra points in the opening two rounds. They will need more of that if they want to catch the Nittany Lions or Buckeyes.

“Keep getting bonus points,” Brands said. “The biggest thing is to keep wrestling in your positions and wrestle how you want to wrestle.”

Penn State pushed seven into the semifinals, including five by fall. Ohio State also has seven in the semifinals. Penn State and Ohio State only match up in one semifinal — the Lions’ top-seeded Bo Nickal and Buckeyes’ No. 5 Myles Martin at 184 in a rematch of the 2016 NCAA final that Martin won.

Iowa doesn’t have a Penn State opponent in the semifinals, but Sorensen will face Ohio State’s No. 3 Micah Jordan.

l Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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