The Iowa wrestling team had a golden opportunity to take what historically has belonged to them over the past 20 years.
But an 0-for-4 performance in championship matches derailed an impressive morning freight train that looked prime to nab another Big Ten title.
After locking up a 5-for-5 performance in the consolation semifinal round and pulling within one-half point from two-time defending champion Penn State, Iowa put up a donut in its four championship bouts and finished in third place in the overall standings for the second straight year.
Iowa finished with 133.5 points, but Penn State won the weekend with 151 and Minnesota claimed runner-up honors with 139. Action was held at the University of Illinois’ Assembly Hall in Champaign, Ill.
Iowa placed nine wrestlers fourth or better, which was more than any other school, but was unable to claim an individual champion for the first time since 2006.
“I could be very generic in my comments, and I am, but in my head there are a lot of specifics. We have to be tougher,” said Iowa head coach Tom Brands. “There’s no doubt we need to do certain things to be tougher. It starts with finishing. It starts with urgency in those situations.”
The championship matches were lost by top-seeded Matt McDonough at 125, second-seeded Tony Ramos at 133, third-seeded Mark Ballweg at 141 and second-seeded Mike Evans at 174.
McDonough dropped a 10-4 decision to Illinois sophomore and third-seeded Jesse Delgado, who is the only wrestle in NCAA history to beat McDonough more than once. That was his third win against the two-time defending Big Ten champion.
Ramos took top-ranked and top-seeded Logan Stieber of Ohio State to overtime, but Stieber scored a takedown with five seconds to go in the first overtime session and won 3-1. Ballweg lost his final 8-3 against top-ranked Hunter Stieber of Ohio State and Evans lost his match, 7-3, to fifth-seeded Matt Brown of Penn State at 174.
The Hawkeye day with five wins in the consolation semifinals. Derek St. John, Nick Moore, Ethen Lofthouse, Nathan Burak and Bobby Telford all advanced to the wrestleback finals. St. John, Lofthouse and Telford each rallied to take third, while Moore and Burak each settled for fourth.
“I think we did a better job of (being tougher) than maybe we did at the (NWCA) national duals,” added Brands. “Remember, there’s another day to go if this is the national tournament. We’re going another day and that could favor us.”
Each of Iowa’s nine place-winners have automatically qualified to compete at the 2013 NCAA Championships. The national tournament will be held March 21-23 at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
FINAL BIG TEN TEAM STANDINGS
1. Penn State - 151
2. Minnesota - 139
3. IOWA - 133.5
4. Ohio State - 109.5
5. Illinois - 85.5
6. Michigan - 75
7. Nebraska - 61
8. Northwestern - 56
9. Purdue - 38
10. Wisconsin - 37
11. Indiana - 30.5
12. Michigan State - 22
125 - #3 Jesse Delgado (ILL) dec. #1 Matt McDonough (IOWA), 10-4 (3:04 RT)
133 - #1 Logan Stieber (OSU) dec. #2 Tony Ramos (IOWA), 3-1 (SV1)
141 - #1 Hunter Stieber (OSU) dec. #3 Mark Ballweg (IOWA), 8-3 (1:52 RT)
174 - #5 Matt Brown (PSU) dec. #2 Mike Evans (IOWA), 7-3 (2:29 RT)
THIRD -PLACE MATCHES
157 - #1 Derek St. John (IOWA) dec. #6 Josh Demas (OSU), 3-2
165 - #5 Cody Yohn (MINN) dec. #4 Nick Moore (IOWA), 6-1 (SV1)
184 - #5 Ethen Lofthouse (IOWA) dec. #3 Josh Ihnen (NEB), 8-1 (3:23 RT)
197 - #3 Mario Gonzalez (ILL) dec. #6 Nathan Burak (IOWA), 3-2
285 - #4 Bobby Telford (IOWA) dec. #3 Connor Medbery (WIS), 5-2
CONSOLATION SEMIFINAL RESULTS
157 - #1 Derek St. John (IOWA) pinned #3 Dylan Alton (PSU), 6:36
165 - #4 Nick Moore (IOWA) dec. #6 Pierce Harger (NU), 7-2 (3:29 RT)
184 - #5 Ethen Lofthouse (IOWA) pinned #6 Tony Dallago (ILL), 3:47
197 - #6 Nathan Burak (IOWA) dec. #8 Max Huntley (MICH), 5-3
285 - #4 Bobby Telford (IOWA) dec. #6 Adam Chalfant (IND), 7-3