PITTSBURGH — Iowa posted a perfect start to the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships.
The Hawkeyes went 9-0 in the first round of the national tournament Thursday, scoring 14 points and sitting fourth in the team race. Penn State leads with 21 points. Ohio State is second with 15 1/2, one point ahead of third-place Oklahoma State.
“Nine wins is as good as we could have done,” Iowa Coach Tom Brands said. “We left some points out there, maybe, but we’ll get better as the tournament goes on.”
Sam Stoll provided the biggest victory on paper, topping Michigan’s fifth-seeded Mason Parris 8-5 with a takedown, three penalty points for stalling and riding time.
“Very smart, very savvy match,” Brands said. “We stayed good in our positions. He was very smart in using his experience to his advantage and that guy hadn’t felt us before.”
Stoll will face Northwestern’s Conan Jennings for a spot in the quarterfinals. He is 5-0 against Jennings in his career.
Max Murin also knocked off a higher-seeded wrestler. He used a takedown and escape to beat Wisconsin’s No. 11 seed Tristan Moran 3-2 at 141. He will face Illinois’ Michael Carr next. Murin defeated Carr 3-1 for seventh place at the Big Ten Championships on Mar. 10.
Iowa’s top-seeded Alex Marinelli had one of the toughest roads in front of him. He cleared the first test, beating Oklahoma State two-time All-American Joe Smith, 7-4. Marinelli scored the final six points, including one for riding time, after surrendering two first-period takedowns.
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“I’m not into talking smack but he faded,” Marinelli said. “I wanted to turn but I heard Tom and (Iowa assistant Ryan) Morningstar in my corner saying ‘stay smart.’ I didn’t need a turn, I just needed to ride him and get to my attacks and that’s what I did at the end.”
He will face North Carolina State’s No. 16 Matt Bullard in the second round.
“I do have a tough path, but my thought last night was I haven’t wrestled any of these guys,” Marinelli said. “I haven’t wrestled (Lock Haven’s fifth-seeded Chance) Marsteller or a lot of these guys and that’s a guy I wanted to wrestled and I’m glad it demands my best.
“One match at a time. I don’t even know who I have next match.”
Iowa had bonus victories in three of its first five victories. Defending NCAA champion Spencer Lee (125) and Kaleb Young (165) scored technical falls. Austin DeSanto won by disqualification when Appalachian State’s Codi Russell was stalled out in the first period.
“Offensive-minded is a good word,” Brands said. “That’s what we want. Aggressive is what we want.”
Northern Iowa joined Iowa in the top 10, tying Virginia Tech for ninth with nine points.
The Panthers went 5-1, closing with a pin from Bryce Steiert at 165 and consecutive major decisions by Taylor Lujan (174) and 184-pounder Drew Foster.
Foster blanked Brown’s Christian LaFragola 10-0 in the opener, amassing more than four minutes of riding time.
“That’s a free point,” Foster said. “If they don’t think they can get out from under you they aren’t going to choose down, then you get back to your feet where I like to be. You just have to keep riding tough.”
Foster placed seventh two years ago, but didn’t reach the podium last season.
“It’s big,” Foster said about returning to the awards stand. “I want to climb high. I want to be on the No. 1 spot. We have work to do. We have matches to win.”
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Iowa State won four of its nine bouts, scoring six points and sitting in a tie for 17th. Austin Gomez (133) and 149-pounder Jarrett Degen recorded major decisions. Sam Colbray (184) and Willie Miklus (197) advanced to the second round as well.
The Cyclones have already surpassed last year’s performance, doubling the team point total.
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