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DETROIT — Jacob Warner pounded his chest and yelled so fervently that his mouthpiece came dislodged.
The excited reaction was understandable and certainly warranted.
Warner produced an inspired and intense performance, avenging a couple losses with a 2-0 decision over Nebraska’s third-seeded Eric Schultz in the quarterfinals during the third session of the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships on Friday at Little Caesars Arena. He joined Austin DeSanto as the only Hawkeyes to reach the semifinals.
Sixth-seeded Warner used a second-period rideout and an escape in the third period to secure a top-six placing and his fourth All-America honor.
“He’s beaten me three times in a row,” Warner said. “I knew the last three times I was in the match until the very end. I knew I had to stay in there.”
Warner said he talked to teammate Abe Assad about a loaded youth bracket that included Schultz and Warner. They have competed against each other since middle school. Warner’s quarterfinal victory evened their college series at three wins apiece. Warner won the first two with Schultz nabbing the previous three.
“Eric’s a great competitor,” Warner said. “We’ve been wrestling since middle school. He’s a great opponent. He wrestles hard the whole time. He’s always been that way.”
Warner was confident in the top position, controlling Schultz for more than a minute in the regular-season finale at Nebraska. He made a statement in the second, riding Schultz for the full two-minute frame.
Warner executed multiple emphatic mat returns, including one that carried them out of bounds and into the scorer’s table.
“I knew when I had that big mat return and I almost had him to his back then, and I think I almost had him to his back again later, but I knew my momentum was going up,” Warner said. “The match may have started in his favor but I started turning it my way with my ride on top.
“If you can put hard rides on guys, you can win a lot of matches.”
The duo have split six matches that have been decided by a total of 11 points. The largest margin of victory is three points. The last two were one-point decisions in favor of Schultz. Warner finished strong and turned that around when it mattered most, advancing to the NCAA semifinals for the first time.
“I knew I could get there on him,” said Warner, who placed seventh as a freshman and fourth a year ago. “That third period, he fired off a couple of attacks. He didn’t get any of them and I felt his energy drain. I knew right then and there he wasn’t going to (get near) my legs and I was going to get it done.”
DeSanto nabbed the Hawkeyes’ first spot in the semifinals, reaching the round for the second straight season. The fifth-seeded 133-pounder blanked Virginia Tech’s Korbin Myers, 9-0.
“I wrestled tough and hard,” DeSanto said. “Still areas to improve on. There’s a tech fall. There’s a pin. I don’t know. I shut it down a little bit. Not the way I want to wrestle.”
DeSanto scored bookend takedowns for the major. His 4-point nearfall in the second period allowed him to pull away from Myers, compiling more than three minutes of riding time. DeSanto’s high pace on his feet garners most attention, but he has improved on top.
“I almost had it in the first,” DeSanto said. “I knew he didn’t know how to deal with that, so I was pretty confident.”
The Hawkeyes struggled through the rest of the round, going 2-4. Max Murin (149), third-seeded 165-pounder Alex Marinelli, heavyweight Tony Cassioppi and returning NCAA finalist Michael Kemerer at 174 fell in the quarterfinals.
Marinelli and Cassioppi lost 3-1 decisions to No. 6 seeds in sudden victory. Michigan’s Cameron Amine avenged a loss to Marinelli in the Big Ten finals, scoring a takedown with 11 seconds left in the overtime period. Wood’s re-attack from a Cassioppi shot resulted in the decisive takedown.
Murin fell to Cornell NCAA champion and top-seeded Yianni Diakomihalis, 6-3. Fourth-seeded Hayden Hidlay of North Carolina State beat Kemerer, 5-3.
“Three heartbreakers,” Warner said. “I love those guys. I want nothing more than for them to win. I want nothing more than Alex Marinelli to win a title, Michael Kemerer to win a title. Unfortunately, they’re not going to get that chance but they have to get the next best thing.
“They know. They’ve been raised the right way, they’ve been coached the right way and they train the right way. They know.”
Third-ranked Iowa didn’t fare much better in the consolation round, going 2-4 and losing four wrestlers. All-Americans Kaleb Young (157) and NCAA finalist Jaydin Eierman (141) won their first wrestleback, but fell in the next round and will miss the awards stand.
Eierman, who has been dealing with a knee injury that caused him to medically forfeit from the Big Ten finals more than a week ago, injury defaulted to Michigan’s Stevan Micic in his final match. He finished as a four-time All-American.
Penn State held the team lead entering the semifinals with 73 points. Michigan, which outlasted the Nittany Lions for the conference tournament title, was second with 62 1/2. Arizona State was in third at 53. The Hawkeyes were fourth with 37 1/2, a half-point ahead of North Carolina State.