Iowa Hawkeyes

Brandon Sorensen caps Iowa wrestling career as 4-time All-American

Notes: Sorensen 20th Hawkeye to place each year; Curtain call for Davis; Big Ten is best

CLEVELAND — Brandon Sorensen wants Iowa wrestling fans to remember him as a competitor, who gave everything he had on the mat and lived the right way off it.

As he walked away from his final match in a Hawkeye singlet, it would be hard to view him any other way.

Sorensen concluded his career as Iowa’s 20th four-time All-American, placing fifth at the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships on Saturday at Quicken Loans Arena.

The second-seeded 149-pounder went 5-1 in the consolation bracket, rebounding from a second-round upset and beating Missouri’s Grant Leeth, 4-0, in the last bout.

“It was big coming back for me mentally, moving forward, but that’s not how I wanted to end my career,” said Sorensen, who ended his senior season with a 27-4 mark. “I wanted better, but I can’t change history now.”

Sorensen has been a model of consistency from the moment he stepped into the Iowa lineup. He placed fifth or better each season, earning a national runner-up finish in 2016. He was third last season and fourth as a freshman.

Interestingly, he is just the second Hawkeye to become a four-time All-American without a national title, joining Mike DeAnna (1976-81) and Mike Mena (1993-97).

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“I feel like I’ve accomplished something,” Sorensen said. “It’s not just nothing. It means something. That’s what I’ve got to hang my hat on.”

Sorensen’s impact was much more than his 127-17 career mark, which is just two from the top 10 in all-time wins. The four-time state champion for Denver-Tripoli demonstrated a strong work ethic and independence with no dramatics.

“Invaluable to our program,” Iowa Coach Tom Brands said. “Great representation of what we’re about.”

Wrestlers discuss living a certain lifestyle that is conducive to success in all areas of life. Iowa wrestlers and coaches routinely referenced Sorensen as the example to emulate. He embraced the leadership role, one that seemingly is being handed to freshman Spencer Lee.

“I like to set an example,” Sorensen said. “I feel like I work hard. Maybe there are some things I can do better.

“Right now, we’re looking at Spencer Lee. He’s the example, right now. He’s doing things right. He’s going out there, putting points on the board (and) not holding anything back.”

Sorensen said he was putting all his energy into the last tournament and hasn't thought much about what is next. He didn’t rule out staying in the Hawkeye room to continue to help the current guys and compete in freestyle.

“I’m not really sure, yet,” Sorensen said. “That’s definitely an option. We’ll think about that more moving forward when I get a little time to reflect on this and think more about my future.”

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Barry Davis receives ovation

Wisconsin Coach Barry Davis gave a notable fist pump in all four directions of the arena and one final salute after his final match in the Badgers’ corner, receiving a standing ovation from the crowd of 19,267 at Quicken Loans Arena on Saturday.

Redshirt freshman Evan Wick made sure Davis closed his 24-year career as Wisconsin head coach with a win and All-American, pinning Lock Haven’s Chance Marstellar in 3:19 for third place.

The win and reaction flooded Davis with memories of his outstanding career as a four-time All-American and three-time NCAA champion for Iowa, an Olympic silver medalist, a three-time state champion for Cedar Rapids Prairie and about three decades as a coach.

“A lot of emotion,” Davis said. “It brought everything back to me.”

After the Big Ten Championships, Davis announced that he was stepping down as head coach at the end of the season. He coached three wrestlers to NCAA titles and eight Badgers to Big Ten titles.

Wrestling has played a major part of his life. He has already talked to some people, looking to contact a few more.

“I have some ideas,” Davis said. “I just have to find out what best fits me and what direction I want to go.

“I definitely want to be involved in the sport of wrestling in some type of capacity. It’s just been a big part of my life and I think it’s very important. It gives me a chance to work with young people and help them to develop into great men down the road.”

Big Ten supremacy

The Big Ten Conference has long been considered the toughest in college wrestling. In addition to four of the top five in the team race, the conference produced 12 of the 20 national finalists.

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Four championship matches featured head-to-head matchups between Big Ten foes, including 125 pounds, 165, 184 and the marquee match at heavyweight.

Tournament attendance

The 2018 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships drew 19,267 fans for the fifth session Saturday morning. Overall attendance for the tournament swelled to 93,967 total spectators before the championship session Saturday night.

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

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