Sam Stoll will conclude his Iowa wrestling career at the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships.
The Hawkeyes had to sweat it out for a day, though.
Stoll received one of four at-large heavyweight berths announced by the NCAA Tuesday afternoon, rounding out the 330-athlete national tournament field that will compete March 21-23 at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pa. He is one of nine Iowa qualifiers.
Stoll is a returning All-American, but his fate was in doubt. He was eliminated in the round of 12 in the Big Ten Championships last weekend and missed one of the conference’s seven automatic bids.
“I need to wrestle a hard seven minutes, more if needed,” Stoll said about postseason success before the conference tournament. “I need to put points on the board and win tough matches.”
Stoll opened the season ranked first by trackwrestling.com. He was included in a late-season coaches ranking, but not in a coinciding RPI poll. Both are part of at-large selection criteria.
Stoll qualified as a freshman and aggravated a knee injury that prematurely ended his sophomore season. Stoll posted his best season a year ago, placing fifth at nationals with a 25-6 record.
Iowa Coach Tom Brands said Stoll had to assume a leadership role as a fifth-year senior. He needs to make the most of his last chance.
“I think Stoll realizes that more than he would probably like to let on,” Brands said before the Big Tens.
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NCAA champion Spencer Lee (125), Austin DeSanto (133), Max Murin (141), Pat Lugo at 149, Kaleb Young (157), 165-pound Big Ten champion and unbeaten Alex Marinelli, Cash Wilcke (184) and 197-pound freshman Jacob Warner earned automatic berths for Iowa at the conference tournament.
Iowa State and Northern Iowa did not receive any of the 43 at-large berths over 10 weights. The Cyclones earned nine automatic bids from the Big 12 Championships, while the Panthers managed six.
Alex Mackall (125), Austin Gomez (133), Ian Parker (141), 149-pounder Jarrett Degen, Big 12 champion Chase Straw at 157, Marcus Coleman (174), Sam Colbray (184), Willie Miklus at 197 and heavyweight Gannon Gremmel qualified for the Cyclones.
The Panthers’ Jay Schwarm (125), Josh Alber (141), Max Thomsen (149), 165-pounder Bryce Steiert, Taylor Lujan (174) and Big 12 184-pound titlist Drew Foster advanced to the NCAA tournament.
Two wrestlers with Iowa ties were at-large selections. Former Hawkeye two-time NCAA qualifier Joey Gunther (18-13 at 165) will return to the national tournament for Illinois. Former Cyclone Colston DiBlasi (29-12) also made the 165-pound field for George Mason.
Former in-state preps earned automatic bids, avoiding the at-large process. Northern Illinois’ Bryce West (125), South Dakota State’s Henry Pohlmeyer and Purdue’s Max Lyon will compete at nationals. West wrestled at Highland and Solon, while Lyon was a two-time state champ for Western Dubuque. Pohlmeyer wrestled at Johnston.
Brackets are expected to be released Wednesday.
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