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Iowa wrestlers Sam Stoll and Patrick Rhoads earn at-large bids to NCAA Championships

UNI's Josh Alber and Iowa State's Dane Pestano also receive berths

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Nine remain alive.

University of Iowa added two more wrestlers to the group of Hawkeyes heading to the national tournament.

Heavyweight freshman Sam Stoll and senior 165-pounder Patrick Rhoads earned at-large bids to the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships announced by the NCAA Tuesday afternoon. They will make their first appearance at the event held at New York’s Madison Square Garden on March 17-19. Brackets will be released Wednesday.

Stoll appeared to be a virtual lock, entering the Big Ten Championships as the No. 3 seed with a 22-5 record and a team-high 10 pins. He was hampered by a knee injury suffered in a dual Feb. 22 and forfeited to eighth place, missing one of the conference's six automatic berths. Stoll, a red-shirt freshman, was fourth in RPI and sixth in the coaches poll, grabbing one of the six at-large spots.

“Stoll is a seventh-ranked guy,” Iowa Coach Tom Brands said after the Big Ten Championships on Sunday, “and he has beaten six or eight of the top guys in the country.”

Rhoads placed himself on the figurative bubble, finishing seventh at the conference tournament. Rhoads, a senior, is 13-11 this season, edging Penn State’s Geno Morelli, 4-2, in sudden victory in the final round. The weight also had six automatic berths, but Rhoads was 27th in the RPI and received one of the five wild cards allotted to the class, which included Morelli.

“Patrick Rhoads helped his cause, winning that last match,” Brands said in the post-qualifier news conference. “That was a big win for him.”

The Hawkeyes had seven automatic qualifiers in Big Ten champions Cory Clark, a two-time All-American and returning NCAA finalist, at 133 and 184-pounder Sammy Brooks. All-Americans Thomas Gilman (125), Brandon Sorensen (149) and 197-pounder Nathan Burak return to the national tournament. Sorensen and Burak were conference finalists. Senior Edwin Cooper Jr. and Alex Meyer (174) claimed automatic berths as well.

Iowa State and Northern Iowa received one at-large selection apiece.

Dane Pestano joined the 184-pound field. The Cyclone sophomore placed fourth at the Big 12 Championships last weekend. He owns a 24-13 record.

Iowa State has six qualifiers, including Big 12 champion Lelund Weatherspoon (174) and conference runners-up Tanner Weatherman (165) and 133-pounder Earl Hall, a three-time NCAA qualifier who was a 2014 Al-American. Transfer Patrick Downey (197) and Kyle Larson (125) earned automatic berths.

UNI's Josh Alber just missed an automatic berth, but earned his at-large spot at 133. Alber failed to place at the Mid-American Championships, but finished with a 26-10 record.

The Panthers have five qualifiers, including MAC champion heavyweight Blaize Cabell, 125-pound conference runner-up and 2014 All-American Dylan Peters, Cooper Moore (165) and freshman Bryce Steiert at 157.

The field consists of 33 wrestlers at each of the 10 weight classes.

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

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