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Wild finish ends with No. 3 Cyclones, No. 4 Huskers sharing Big 12 title|
By Craig Sesker - USA Wrestling
College Wrestling Network
LINCOLN, Neb. - The Big 12 Championships serve as a qualifier for the NCAA Championships.|
But the Big 12s are more than that.
The boisterous crowd of 3,073 fans that filled the University of Nebraska Coliseum on Saturday night can certainly attest to that.
Third-ranked Iowa State and fourth-ranked Nebraska waged a fierce, toe-to-toe battle, and in the end both teams came out on top.
Nebraska won its first Big 12 title and Iowa State earned its third straight as both teams finished the competition with 70 points.
"Our guys have made a commitment to be great and to be champions," Nebraska coach Mark Manning said. "We gave a championship effort and that's what it's all about. It's great for our program. It's not the national title, but we're a step closer. Our kids did an unbelievable job. I can't say enough about their preparation. I'm really proud of these guys."
"We know we can be a real competitive team in two weeks and that's what we're working toward," ISU coach Cael Sanderson said. "We're happy that we came in and won. Nebraska's fans came out and this is as good an environment as you will see. The crowd was into it. Their crowd was awesome and it was great preparation for the national tournament."
The Huskers won back-to-back matches with the Cyclones at 184 pounds and 197 to pull ahead of ISU 70-67 entering the heavyweight bout. Cyclone heavyweight David Zabriskie then came through with a 3-1 finals win over Missouri's Mark Ellis.
That pulled Iowa State even with Nebraska, and the teams finished as league co-champions. The Huskers won their first conference title since capturing the Big 8 title in 1995.
"I knew I had to come through," Zabriskie said. "I've been in that situation before, where the pressure is on. About 90 percent of the crowd was cheering for the Missouri guy. I just had to stay focused."
"Zabriskie really came through for us," Sanderson said. "He's a tough kid and he got the job done."
Fifth-ranked Missouri was third with 55 points, No. 12 Oklahoma State was fourth with 40.5 points and No. 13 Oklahoma fifth with 38.5 points.
Nebraska closed the gap on Iowa State by crowning four champions. Jordan Burroughs (157), Brandon Browne (174), Vince Jones (184) and Craig Brester (197) each won Big 12 titles.
The Big 12 has secured 37 automatic spots in the NCAA Championships, set for March 19-21 in St. Louis. The league can gain additional qualifiers when the NCAA adds an additional 52 at-large bids nationwide on March 11.
Iowa State and Oklahoma State each earned nine automatic spots at nationals. Missouri landed seven automatic spots while Nebraska and Oklahoma earned six spots apiece.
Oklahoma State failed to crown a conference champion for only the second year since the first Big Eight tournament was held in 1959. The only other time OSU didn't have a conference champion was in 1993 when it wasn't allowed to compete in the Big Eight meet because of NCAA sanctions.
Iowa State also had a champion in Nick Fanthorpe (133).
Missouri had champions in Marcus Hoehn (141) and Nick Marable (165). Oklahoma had champions in Joey Fio (133) and Kyle Terry (149).
Nebraska was tied 67-67 entering the 197 bout between top-ranked Jake Varner of ISU and the second-ranked Brester.
Brester held off a late takedown attempt by Varner to pull out a dramatic 4-3 finals win. That put the Huskers up by three entering the final bout. Zabriskie then won to give ISU a share of the title.
Brester was named Outstanding Wrestler.
"It was a great atmosphere with the crowd we had here," Brester said. "I couldn't let down with all those fans behind me. This is a big win for me heading into nationals. I tried to stay focused and not let him get me. He still took me down in the third period so I have more work to do."
The top-ranked Burroughs won a bizarre and physical 6-4 finals match over Missouri's Michael Chandler. Burroughs, battling what he called a "stomach ache" that he took Pepto Bismol for, surrendered the first takedown and struggled as Chandler racked up nearly three minutes of riding time in the match.
Burroughs did manage to score on double-leg takedowns in the final 10 seconds of the first and second periods en route to earning the win. Burroughs won the Big 12 at 149 last year.
"He got that first takedown and tried to keep me down on the mat and ride me," Burroughs said. "I knew I had to keep fighting and keep battling back to get takedowns. Those takedowns at the end of the periods, those were huge for me and I was able to pull it out."
Browne drew one of the biggest ovations of the night when he shot in on a single-leg attack and finished for a takedown with four seconds left to pull out a 3-1 win over Missouri's Raymond Jordan in a battle of All-Americans.
It was an emotional win for Browne, a senior whose mother died of a heart attack just two weeks ago. Browne placed fourth in the nation last year.
"I know she would be proud of me, as always. She would be proud," Browne said, fighting back tears. "It was real emotional for me. This has been real hard. I had to take five days off and I was worried about my conditioning. I had so much support here and I have a very strong family. Without them, I don't know what I would do. My mom would hate me if I gave up.
"This was the first wrestling tournament my dad has gone to without her. It's unbelievable to win this, it's just unreal. My last match here as a senior, I couldn't ask for more."
Manning was particularly impressed with Browne.
"Brandon Browne missed some days, but he's already in great shape," Manning said. "When he came back to practice, he went right back to work. I'm really proud of him. I know how hard he's worked and what he's been through. It's awesome to see him win this."
Fanthorpe looked strong in posting a 5-1 win over Oklahoma State's Chris Notte in the 133 finals.
Marable scored a takedown near the edge of the mat to earn a 3-1 overtime win over Nebraska's Stephen Dwyer in the finals. Marable nearly spun behind Dwyer for a takedown in the final seconds of regulation before time ran out.
Hoehn edged ISU's Nick Gallick 2-1 in overtime in the finals. Hoehn rode Gallick out in the first 30-second tiebreaker and then escaped in the second 30-second period to win the title.
Fio earned takedowns in the first and third periods in posting a 5-3 win over Iowa State's Tyler Clark in the 125 finals.
"Tyler Clark, we've battled so many times," Fio said. "He's so good on his feet and I knew I needed to take his offense away. I was just looking to stay in good position. Tyler's a great wrestler and I knew it was going to be a tough match. It was a good win for me."
Terry, the top seed, earned a methodical 3-0 win over No. 2 seed Mitch Mueller of Iowa State in the finals. Terry escaped in the second period and followed by scoring a takedown en route to the win.
BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIPS - FINALS RESULTS
Joey Fio (Oklahoma) dec. Tyler Clark (Iowa State), 5-3
Nick Fanthorpe (Iowa State) dec. Chris Notte (Oklahoma State), 5-1
Marcus Hoehn (Missouri) dec. Nick Gallick (Iowa State), 2-1 OT
Kyle Terry (Oklahoma) dec. Mitch Mueller (Iowa State), 3-0
Jordan Burroughs (Nebraska) dec. Michael Chandler (Missouri), 6-4
Nick Marable (Missouri) dec. Stephen Dwyer (Nebraska), 3-1 OT
Brandon Browne (Nebraska) dec. Raymond Jordan (Missouri), 3-1
Vince Jones (Nebraska) dec. Jerome Ward (Iowa State), 3-0
Craig Brester (Nebraska) dec. Jake Varner (Iowa State), 4-3
David Zabriskie (Iowa State) dec. Mark Ellis (Missouri), 3-1
BIG 12 AUTOMATIC NCAA QUALIFIERS
1. Joey Fio (Oklahoma); 2. Tyler Clark (Iowa State); 3. Obe Blanc (Oklahoma State)
1. Nick Fanthorpe (Iowa State); 2. Chris Notte (Okahoma State); 3. Todd Schavrien (Missouri)
1. Marcus Hoehn (Missouri); 2. Nick Gallick (Iowa State); 3. Jamal Parks (Oklahoma State)
1. Kyle Terry (Oklahoma); 2. Mitch Mueller (Iowa State).
1. Jordan Burroughs (Nebraska); 2. Michael Chandler (Missouri); 3. Neil Erisman (Oklahoma State); 4. Cyler Sanderson (Iowa State)
1. Nick Marable (Missouri); 2. Stephen Dwyer (Nebraska); 3. Jon Reader (Iowa State); 4. Brandon Mason (Oklahoma State); 5. Ryan Smith (Oklahoma)
1. Brandon Browne (Nebraska); 2. Raymond Jordan (Missouri); 3. Newly McSpadden (Oklahoma State)
1. Vince Jones (Nebraska); 2. Jerome Ward (Iowa State); 3. Pat Flynn (Oklahoma); 4. Chris McNeil (Oklahoma State)
1. Craig Brester (Nebraska); 2. Jake Varner (Iowa State); 3. Max Askren (Missouri); 4. Clayton Foster (Oklahoma State); 5. Eric Lapotsky (Oklahoma)
1. David Zabriskie (Iowa State); 2. Mark Ellis (Missouri); 3. Tucker Lane (Nebraska); 4. Jared Rosholt (Oklahoma State); 5. Nathan Fernandez (Oklahoma)
On March 11, an additional 52 at-large qualifiers will be announced by the NCAA.
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