116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DETROIT — Consider this season sweat equity.
Iowa State’s Marcus Coleman has put in the work, plugging away in the Cyclones wrestling room each day over the last five seasons. The effort has resulted in dividends.
“I think those investments are finally paying off,” Coleman said. “I’m starting to get more confidence in myself.”
Coleman was one of three Cyclones to win first-round matches at the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships on Thursday at Little Caesars Arena. The eighth-seeded 184-pounder handled Virginia’s Michael Battista, 10-2, to reach the round of 16.
“It feels good to go out and get those nerves out of you,” Coleman said. “Get a win in the first round is important.”
Coleman improved to 18-4 after the opening victory, which is his best season winning percentage. The four-time NCAA qualifier has made strides this season. Coleman credited his teammates and coaches for the gains.
“My individual coach is Derek St. John and he’s great,” Coleman said. “He’s been helping me for years. We have a good relationship.
“My practice partners. I’ll roll around with David Carr, Yonger Bastida, Joel (Devine) and a lot of other guys who push me every day.”
Coleman tallied four takedowns, including two for a 4-1 lead after the first. He didn’t let up, scoring in each period and adding a riding-time point.
“I definitely wanted to go out, push the pace and score a lot of points,” Coleman said. “That’s just going to be the mindset going forward this weekend.”
The national tournament has come after an emotional couple weeks. Coleman received the news that his grandfather had died before his semifinal match at the Big 12 Championships. He shared a strong bond with his grandfather, who was a big fan of Coleman and attended almost all of his meets until his health deteriorated due to cancer.
“He would still watch every meet,” Coleman said. “I would talk to him after meets. He loved wrestling.
“First thing he said when he would see me we would be talking about wrestling. He was very important to me. He’s been a role model and someone I’ve looked up to my whole life.”
Wrestling served as a respite for Coleman. He’s had moments to purge his feelings, but has used wrestling as a distraction.
“This time of year you have to have tunnel vision at this tournament,” Coleman said. “I’ve also been distracting myself with wrestling, which has helped the process a little bit. There are times I get emotional about it.”
Top-seeded Carr (157) and No. 10 Bastida at 197 also won first-round matches, as Iowa State went 3-6 in the first session.
Carr pulled away from Northern Iowa’s Derek Holschlag for a 21-6 technical fall. Carr won his 55th straight match and earned the 1,600th NCAA tournament victory in program history.
Bastida used a third-period escape to edge Wisconsin’s Braxton Amos.
A common opinion is that seedings and rankings do not matter. Matches are determined on the mat, after all. Some took it to heart in the opening session Thursday.
Fifteen wrestlers seeded 20th or worse in eight of the 10 33-man brackets won first-round matches. The only weights without a winner seeded that low were 165 and heavyweight. The most came at 125 with four wrestlers seeded 20 through 25 winning out of the gate. Three seeds from No. 22 to No. 26 won at 174. Two more upsets occurred at 133 and 141.
The lowest seeds to win were 26th-seeds Matt Ramos, of Purdue, and Stanford’s Tyler Eischens. Ramos pinned Illinois’ No. 7 Lucas Byrd, who placed fifth a year ago. Eischens won a wild match against Ohio State’s Ethan Smith at 174. He scored 10 points in the first two periods, holding on for a 13-12 decision. Smith is a four-time NCAA qualifier, placing fifth last season.
One of the most notable upsets came at 157. The Citadel’s No. 22 Dazjon Casto forced overtime with a third-period takedown and then scored a takedown with four nearfall to beat North Carolina’s returning NCAA champion and No. 11-seed Austin O’Connor, 8-2, in sudden victory.
Purdue had three of the victories. In addition to Ramos, No. 25 Gerrit Nijenhuis (174) and No. 20 Parker Filius (141) advanced. Filius defeated Iowa State’s No. 13 Ian Parker, 13-5.
Fans didn’t have to wait long for the first pin of the tournament.
Bloomsburg’s Josh Mason stuck Virginia’s Dylan Cedeno in 2:11 of the 141-pound pigtail match. It was also the first victory of the event.
The pin was Mason’s 20th win of the season.