The Iowa Hawkeyes are in fourth place after the first two sessions and will send six of its nine wrestlers into the championship quarterfinals.
Tony Ramos earned two pins on the day to lead the Hawkeyes, which has 22 points and trails first-place Penn State by 10.5 points.
"We need to continue to take it one match at a time," said head coach Tom Brands. "As coaches we have to get our guys ready to wrestle. We saw some good today, but I'm already looking at tomorrow. We need to wrestle all the way to completion."
The Nittany Lions are leading with 32.5 points, while Oklahoma State (29), Minnesota (24), Iowa and Oregon State (16) round out the top five. Iowa State is in a tie for 12th with 11.5 points, while Northern Iowa is currently 15th with 11.
Also winning twice on Thursday was Matt McDonough, Mark Ballweg, Derek St. John, Mike Evans and Ethen Lofthouse.
“It’s about coming out ready to wrestle and rising to the occasion,” McDonough said. “Each day, each match there’s more emphasis on it. It’s more intense.”
Bobby Telford won his opening round match but was forced to an injury default in the second round. Nick Moore was upset in the first round by Iowa State's Michael Moreno but bounced back with a pin in his consolation wrestleback.
Also going 1-1 on the day was Nathan Burak. Moore, Burak and Telford will all try to stay alive today when the third session begins at 10 a.m. Telford's injury though may cause him to have to drop out of the competition.
The only Hawkeye to score an upset win Thursday was Lofthouse, who beat No. 5 seeded Kevin Steinhaus of Minnesota, 3-2, in the second round. Evans and McDonough also scored bonus points in one of their matches as each had a major decision.
Lofthouse had lost five times in his last eight matches and nearly lost his spot at 184 pounds before the NCAA Championships. He preached something simple when talking about what changed in his approach.
“I stayed positive,” Lofthouse said. “Before the match even starts, in my head I’ve already won. Then the crowd gets behind you and it makes you feel good.”
Brands was happy one of his veterans came through in a big spot.
“His back was against the wall,” Brands said. “He changed some things. It’s not something that I’m going to sit here (and act like) a genius. I’m not a genius to tell you what changed. He’s become more of a complete wrestler, just tougher.”
The quarterfinal session begins today at 10 a.m. at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.