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|Hendricks, Rosholt win titles as Oklahoma State celebrates 34th NCAA championship|
By Craig Sesker USA Wrestling
OKLAHOMA CITY - The loudest cheers, and loudest boos, of the night were reserved for 165-pounder Johny Hendricks.
The demonstrative Oklahoma State junior took full advantage of his opportunity to celebrate on the elevated platform at the NCAA Championships after his wild and crazy 9-8 finals win over No. 1 seed Ryan Churella of Michigan.
Hendricks' second straight controversial one-point win set off a mixed and ear-splitting reaction among the boisterous crowd of 16,394 fans Saturday night at the Ford Center. Hendricks jumped up and down after the win, flexing for the crowd and then sprinting over to the corner of the mat and lifting Coach John Smith into the air.
The second-seeded Hendricks then ran off the stage and over in front of the orange-clad Cowboy fans in the corner of the arena. He pointed up to them with both index fingers as they roared their approval. Love him or hate him, Hendricks is a two-time national champion.
That match provided a glimpse of what the three-day tournament was like as the Cowboys celebrated their fourth straight title and 34th overall. The sizeable contingent of OSU fans were pitted against the rest of the fans all weekend in this event.
Oklahoma State stayed focused and razor-sharp all weekend, finishing with 122.5 points while beating runner-up and top-ranked Minnesota by a whopping 38.5 points. Sixth-ranked Oklahoma was third with 80.5 points, just 3.5 behind Minnesota, while No. 11 Iowa was a surprising fourth with 70 points.
"The most satisfying thing is the fact that we dominated. That's what you hope for," Smith said. "It was expected early in the year, but it never materialized. It is what we are capable of doing and we did it. We wrestled our very best during the year right here."
Oklahoma State senior Jake Rosholt (197) also had plenty of reason to celebrate after earning his third national title. OSU nearly had a second three-time champion, but second-ranked senior Steve Mocco dropped a marathon 5-2 four-overtime decision to No. 1 Cole Konrad of Minnesota in the heavyweight finals.
Konrad, a junior, beat Mocco all four times they met this year. In this match, the score was tied 2-2 through one cycle of overtime periods. Nobody scored in the second round of sudden victory before they went to the two 30-second tiebreakers for the second time.
Konrad rode Mocco out in the first 30 seconds before he escaped with 22 seconds left in the second 30-second period. Konrad then slipped under a Mocco throw attempt 10 seconds later to prevail 5-2 in a match that lasted 11 minutes.
"You never visualize a match going into however many overtimes that was," Konrad said. "But we train for that with long, hard sessions so that we can wrestle in situations like that. I didn't want it to go that long, but it did. I knew I was in good condition."
Minnesota also had a champion in true freshman Dustin Schlatter at 149. The Gophers beat Oklahoma State twice in dual meets, including the finals of the National Duals, and won the Big Ten tournament title. Minnesota loses just one starter and returns all three of its finalists.
"Hats off to our team," Minnesota coach J Robinson said. "When you look at what they've done, where they were and where they came from it's an amazing story."
The No. 1 Schlatter snatched a single near the edge of the mat in the first period and turned it into a takedown on his way to a 4-0 win over No. 2 Ty Eustice of Iowa in the 149 finals. Schlatter's defense neutralized any comeback attempts by Eustice. He also picked up a riding-time point.
Schlatter beat Eustice 4-1 in a dual meet this season.
"That was the game plan, take him down and ride him out," Schlatter said. "Getting the riding-time point was going to be very important.
"I had a goal at the beginning of the year to be national champ. I don't know if many people would have believed me. I definitely thought I could do it," Schlatter said.
Iowa finished fourth, two spots higher than they placed at the Big Ten meet. Hawkeye sophomore Mark Perry won the award for most falls. Perry placed third at 174.
"This tournament was a positive and something we can build on," Iowa coach Jim Zalesky said. "Last year we were seventh and this year we were fourth, plus we had one more All-American this year."
The No. 2 Hendricks shot in with four seconds left on a leg attack to pull out the win in the 165 finals. He gained two takedowns right on the edge of the mat that were disputed by the Michigan coaches. Churella also cradled and nearly pinned Hendricks as time ran out in the second period, but was given only a two-point near fall.
Hendricks received a disputed stalling point in his 4-3 semifinal win over American's Muzaffar Abdurakmanov on Friday night.
"This is amazing. This is pretty much my hometown since I'm only 15 miles away from here," said Hendricks, who is from Edmond, Okla. "I had so many people up there cheering for me and so many wanting me to lose. I knew that I had to do it here. If I don't win another title, I wanted to do it here."
The No. 4 Rosholt tossed No. 6 seed Phil Davis of Penn State on his back for an early five-point move en route to a 10-3 win in the 197 finals. Rosholt won his first NCAA title at 184 as a freshman before winning it all last year as a junior at 197.
"There have been a lot of great wrestlers that have come out of Oklahoma State," Rosholt said. "It's an honor to be thought of among those kinds of wrestlers."
Missouri's top-ranked Ben Askren (174) was voted outstanding wrestler after capping an unbeaten season with a decisive 14-2 win over previously unbeaten and second-ranked Jake Herbert of Northwestern in the finals. Askren caught Herbert on his back for a four-point move following an early scramble and rolled from there.
Askren, a junior, became Missouri's first NCAA champion. He finished 45-0, becoming the first Tiger to go unbeaten in a season. He finished second in the NCAAs the past two seasons.
"It was a battle," Askren said. "He never quit and made it tough on me to get the win. I was never worried. I not only want to be the best in my class but also in the nation."
Oklahoma senior Teyon Ware (141) also was denied a third title as the second-seeded wrestler fell 3-2 to No. 1 Nate Gallick of Iowa State in the finals. Ware showed class while losing a tough bout in his own backyard, hugging ISU coach Bobby Douglas after the match.
Gallick finished 8-1 in his career against Ware with the only loss coming in last year's NCAA finals in St. Louis. Gallick finished 35-0 this season, beating Ware four times in 2006.
Gallick shot in on a single-leg attempt and took Ware down with just over one minute left in the first period. That turned out to be the difference between the long-time Big 12 rivals.
"(Ware) is one of the toughest guys in the country to score on," said Gallick, one of America's top prospects in freestyle. "Every match we have is close. I've been lucky to come out on top most of the time. I have a lot of respect for him. He's a great athlete and a great wrestler."
Ware's coach, Jake Spates, was named coach of the year. OU was in second place until Konrad's win pushed Minnesota past the Sooners in the final match of the tournament.
"We're real proud of our guys - we came to wrestle," Spates said. "We battled hard and we were in second place until about 30 seconds ago in the last bout. The icing slipped off the cake with Teyon's loss in the finals, but he's such a class act. He's meant so much to our program."
Indiana senior Joe Dubuque (125) kicked off the finals by winning his second consecutive championship with a dominating 8-3 win over Cornell true freshman Troy Nickerson. Dubuque barreled in on a double-leg shot early in the match and gained control.
"Winning the first one was definitely harder because I hadn't been there before," Dubuque said. "I think my experience made a difference. He was probably a little tense, a little tense, and like I said, I've been there. I'm a fifth-year senior and he's a true freshman."
Boise State's fifth-seeded Ben Cherrington (157) repeated his win from the Pac-10 finals by beating No. 10 Brian Stith of Arizona State 7-3 in the NCAA title bout. Cherrington capped a 20-0 senior season.
"I definitely felt like if I wrestled consistently I had a chance to get here," Cherrington said. "This year was the first time in my career I won some big matches that I had to win. That was definitely a confidence-booster coming into this tournament."
Sixth-ranked Penn junior Matt Valenti (133) rode Purdue's fifth-ranked Chris Fleeger the entire second period and that was the difference as Valenti won 3-2. Fleeger placed second for the second time after being a runner-up at 125 three years ago.
"Moving up a weight class was a good choice for me," Valenti said. "I had to cut quite a bit to make 125 and the last few days of the tournament I have really felt the difference. I've felt a lot fresher going into matches."
Fifth-seeded Oregon senior Shane Webster (184) capped his career by beating Minnesota's second-seeded Roger Kish 3-2 in the finals. Webster shot in on the legs for the winning takedown with just over a minute left.
"I went out there to get the win," Webster said. "That was the mentality I had out there. You can't go out there and think about losing."