Iowa senior Tony Ramos won his first-ever Big Ten Conference wrestling title at 133 pounds on Sunday, but the Hawkeye wrestling team once again found themselves trailing now four-time defending conference champion Penn State when the action concluded.
The Hawkeyes went into the final round with a strong chance to knock off the Nittany Lions, but two losses in championship matches not featuring a Penn State wrestler did the Hawkeye grapplers in.
Ramos was the first of five Hawkeye finalists and his 2-1 win over Wisconsin’s Tyler Graff was supposed to be a springboard for his teammates. However, no other Hawkeye managed to climb all the way up the podium and Penn State went on to win the team title by 5.5 points.
The Nittany Lions crowned two champions and also had two runner-ups and won the race with 140.5 points, while Iowa had one champ and four second-place finishes and ended up with 135 points. Minnesota was third but was well behind the top two at 118.5 points. Ohio State was fourth at 86.5 and Nebraska ended up fifth at 79, just clipping Illinois’ 78.5.
“I believe that we have a team to win it here and I believe we have a team to win it in a couple of weeks, that’s how you go forward,” said Iowa coach Tom Brands. “That’s what our next mission is. We have to get ready for the next tournament. We have to go to work.”
None of the 10,111 fans inside the Kohl Center expected Nick Moore to beat top-ranked and undefeated David Taylor at 165 and few gave Ethen Lofthouse a chance against Ed Ruth at 184.
But Iowa had to come up with wins at 157 and 174 to have any chance at the team title. Defending national champion Derek St. John though lost to second-seeded James Green of Nebraska, 7-4, and Evans lost to top-seeded Robert Kokesh of Nebraska, 6-4.
St. John came into the tournament seeded fourth but will still be one of the favorites to win it all at the national tournament.
“We have to be strong and we have to go forward, and we have the team for that,” said Brands. “We have the mental makeup for that with this team and the emotional make up. We have a lot of good guys and we need to win more matches.”
Moore had lost his first two matches with Taylor by technical fall and major decision and the dominant Taylor did it to Moore again on Sunday, winning 14-5. Taylor breezed through his bracket with a technical fall, win by fall and a major decision to remain unbeaten on the year. It was his fourth Big Ten Conference title.
Ruth also won his fourth individual conference title as he beat Lofthouse 10-2.
Nine Iowa wrestlers finished in the top five of their respective brackets, the most of any school. All nine place winners earned an automatic berth in the 2014 NCAA Championships.
Two Iowa grapplers wrestled for third on Sunday, but only heavyweight Bobby Telford came out on top. The fourth-seeded Telford beat sixth-seeded Mike McClure of Michigan State, 3-2, and began his day with a 3-1 victory over Northwestern’s Michael McMullan in the consolation semifinal.
Third-seeded Cory Clark (125) was defeated by fourth-seeded Ryan Taylor of Wisconsin, 9-5.
Josh Dziewa (141) and Nathan Burak (195) both gave Iowa additional points with their fifth-place finishes. Each wrestler won their final match by one point.
Ramos’ 2-1 win over Graff was his first-ever Big Ten Conference title. He was second in both the 2012 and 2013 Big Ten Championships.
“It didn’t go exactly the way I wanted, but I got the win,” said Ramos. “I wanted to win this one in regulation and I’m walking out of here with the title. It was a lot of fun and the fans were great. Wisconsin did a great job hosting this tournament.”
Iowa returns to the mat March 20-22 at the NCAA Championships in Oklahoma City. The NCAA will announce the tournament field Wednesday.
FINAL TEAM STANDINGS
Penn State – 140.5
Iowa - 135
Minnesota – 118.5
Ohio State – 86.5
Nebraska - 79
Illinois – 78.5
Wisconsin - 73
Michigan – 71.5
Northwestern - 58
Indiana - 37
Purdue – 34.5
Michigan State – 21.5
133 - #1 Tony Ramos (Iowa) dec. #2 Tyler Graff (Wisc), 2-1
157 - #2 James Green (Nebraska) dec. #4 Derek St. John (Iowa), 7-4
165 - #1 David Taylor (Penn State) major dec. #3 Nick Moore (Iowa), 14-5
174 - #1 Robert Kokesh (Neb) dec. #3 Mike Evans (Iowa), 6-4
184 - #1 Ed Ruth (Penn State) major dec. #3 Ethen Lofthouse (Iowa), 10-2
125 - #4 Ryan Taylor (Wisc) dec. #3 Cory Clark (Iowa), 9-5
285 - #4 Bobby Telford (Iowa) dec. #6 Mike McClure (MSU), 3-2
141 - #5 Josh Dziewa (Iowa) dec. #7 Steven Rodrigues (Ill), 3-2
197 - #5 Nathan Burak (Iowa) dec. #4 Braden Atwood (Pur), 2-1
CONSOLATION SEMIFINALS RESULTS
125 – #3 Cory Clark (Iowa) dec. #8 Nick Roberts (OSU), 3-1 SV1
141 - #3 Chris Dardanes (Minn) dec. #5 Josh Dziewa (Iowa), 5-2
197 - #7 Alex Polizzi (NW) dec. #5 Nathan Burak (Iowa), 4-3
285 - #4 Bobby Telford (Iowa) dec. #3 Michael McMullan (NW), 3-1