Small College Sports

Wrestling Weekend That Was: Cornell names tournament after late coach Mike Duroe

Rams' Ben Hewson wins individual title; Fix beats Suriano in controversy

Cornell’s Ben Hewson wrestles Buena Vista’s Brad Kerkhoff in the 165-pound final at the Mike Duroe Invitational in Mount Vernon. (Mickey Hines/Cornell Sports Information)
Cornell’s Ben Hewson wrestles Buena Vista’s Brad Kerkhoff in the 165-pound final at the Mike Duroe Invitational in Mount Vernon. (Mickey Hines/Cornell Sports Information)

Cornell honored late coach Mike Duroe by placing his name on its home tournament and Ben Hewson made sure the Rams could celebrate some gold. Wrestling had marquee matches, controversial finishes and standout performances in the Wrestling Weekend That Was:

Honoring Mike Duroe

Cornell College hosted its annual invitational wrestling tournament last weekend. The event has been a staple on the college wrestling schedule. This season, the Matman has been renamed the Cliff Keen-Mike Duroe Invitational, honoring former Rams Coach Mike Duroe, who died in July at age 63 after a battle with brain cancer.

Duroe was a great ambassador for wrestling, competing and coaching at the high school, college and international levels. He became Cornell’s all-time dual wins leader in 13 seasons as head coach. He coached 47 NCAA qualifiers, 22 All-Americans and five NCAA finalists at Cornell, including 2014 NCAA Division III 197-pound national champion Alex Coolidge.

The day was special for the Rams and those associated with the Charles City native.

“You could tell the guys were inspired and motivated,” said first-year head coach Brent Hamm, who wrestled four years and assisted three years for the Hall of Famer. “This day was extremely important to our program and it hit home for me personally. I am proud of the guys and how they bounced back from a tough weekend a week ago. We’ll use this as momentum going down the final stretch.”

Senior Ben Hewson was one of three Cornell All-Americans in Duroe’s final NCAA meet in March. He added to the celebration, claiming an individual title for the Rams. He beat Buena Vista’s Brad Kerkhoff 9-7, scoring four takedowns with three in the first period. Hewson went 5-0 with two pins and a major decision, improving to 23-5 this year.

Hewson was one of eight Rams placewinners in the 17-team, 255-wrestler field.

“It was a great day overall,” Hamm said. “We only had one individual champion, and we always want more.”

The fix is in

Oklahoma State’s previously fourth-ranked redshirt freshman Daton Fix and Rutgers' then-No. 2 Nick Suriano were among the high-profile matches this weekend. Fix came away with a 3-2 victory in the second sudden victory period.

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How the match played out has garnered more attention than the result itself. The bout lasted more than nine minutes and included a lengthy delay for reviews. The match was decided when Suriano, an NCAA finalist last season, was called for hands to the face in the first score wins period, giving Fix a penalty point and the upset. Hands to the face has been a point of emphasis for officials.

“I don’t want to win that way,” Fix told flowrestling.com after the match. “Nobody wants to win that way. I want to get to his legs. I want to put a lot of points on the board. It sucks that it ended that way but that was the right call, I guess.”

Fix moved up to second in trackwrestling.com’s national rankings, while Suriano is now third.

Sloan still rollin'

Former Alburnett two-time state champion and South Dakota State freshman Tanner Sloan claimed another tournament title in his redshirt season.

Sloan recorded a 17-0 technical fall over Southwest Minnesota State 197-pounder and former Iowa City High prep Jacob Dykes in the finals of Saturday’s Ridgewater Open at Willmar, Minn. Sloan went 3-0 with two pins, improving to 21-2 this season.

Sloan has reached the finals in every tournament this season, claiming three titles and a runner-up finish at the Midlands Championships.

Big showing at Independence

With the Iowa Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association girls state wrestling tournament set for this Saturday at Waverly-Shell Rock, a girls division competition at Independence proved to be a good primer. Forty-nine girls competed in 14 brackets. Among the champions were Cedar Rapids Jefferson’s Chloe Clemons and Gabby Guenther.

A release Fromm the IWCOA stated 157 girls are currently on wrestling rosters in Iowa. The girls state tournament is open to all eligible wrestlers on rosters for Iowa High School Athletic Association sponsored schools.

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

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