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Second Session wrapup Zadick upsets Wright and changes the balance of power



The second session of the NCAA Tournament was a time to sift things out a little bit, and try to separate the contenders from the pretenders. Coming in, the top three teams in the predictions sat right on top of the standings, with Minnesota first with 27 points, Iowa in second with 24.5 points and Oklahoma State in third with 20 points. The question at this time, one that came up in the press conferences and pre-game chat, was whether it would be a three-horse race, or if other teams could widen the contest and make it a photo-finish. On the mats at the same time early in the session were a pair of key matches including Iowa State wrestlers. A victory by a lower seeded athlete in these bouts could topple the balance of power. When it was over, nothing much had changed, but the crowd saw a few great bouts. At 133, No. 7 Matt Azevedo of Iowa State faced No. 10 Brett Lawrence of Minnesota. A victory by the Gophers could help them to bring home an All-American where they were not expected to and provide the balance needed to win the team fight. Azevedo and Lawrence were embroiled in a 1-1 battle in the final period, when Azevedo won a scramble for a takedown and backpoints for the victory. The crowd went wild, as much in celebration for a loss by Minnesota, as for the win by the Iowa State athlete. At 141 pounds, No. 8 Charles Walker of Oklahoma State faced No. 9 seed Zach Roberson of Io wa State. The Cowboys needed to keep Walker alive in the winners bracket, to maintain their battle for the top spot. An Iowa State win would help keep the Cyclones in the mix, and perhaps make it a race that could include many more teams. The match was close and tactical, and Walker led 3-2 in the final period. A Walker takedown made the score 5-2 and allowed the OSU wrestler to hold his seeded position and move on to the next round. The key match of the session, and perhaps the tournament, came at 149 pounds, when Oklahoma State's No. 1 Reggie Wright faced unseeded Mike Zadick of Iowa. This was a match between two contending teams, and an upset would really change things for the team race. The match did not disappoint. Wright opened up the match with dominance, scoring the first two takedowns for a 4-1 lead. Zadick, who had been inconsistent all year in spite of great promise, could have folded but did not, staying in the fight with the support of the home fans. The match was 5-2 going into the third period, and the athletes started the round on their feet. Zadick scored a takedown, closing the score to 5-4. Wright escaped for a 6-4 lead, and tried to slow down the Zadick offensive attack. The officials hit Wright for a stall warning after a series of defensive responses. In the closing seconds, with the crowd at a frenzied pitch, Zadick took down Wright and put him towards his back, scoring backpoints to add insult to injury. The time ran out and Zadick scored an 8-6 victory, giving Iowa the kind of upset that wins team titles. Oklahoma State lost one of its finalist hopefuls, a tremendous setback in its annual attempt to unseat the Hawkeyes in the team race. Will fans be able to come back and identify this match as the difference in the meet? Oklahoma State, a team with balance and power, lost a key point scorer and possible champion. Iowa, with four superstars, needed a few more athletes to make their individual strength stick. Zadick's win was that kind of statement. Before you can count out the Cowboys, Oklahoma State came back with an upset of their own at 157 pounds. No. 12 Shane Roller of OSU squared off with 1999 NCAA champion and No. 5 seed Kirk White of Boise State. Roller kept it close, and with a 2-2 tie in the final period, scored the winning takedown in the closing seconds for a clutch 4-2 victory. White's run for a second NCAA title was crushed, while Roller breathed new life into the reeling Cowboy effort. Perhaps balance and consistency will be the difference, as Minnesota continues its march through the brackets. With the crowd focusing on Iowa-based matches, the Gopher athletes continued to win the matches they are expected to win, in the strong and solid style that this Gopher team has displayed all year. When PA announcers Sandy Stevens and Don Blasingame updated the team scores, Minnesota continued to come out on top. To keep things interesting, Oklahoma State showed some spark with some bonus points. No. 4 Tyrone Lewis quickly lateral dropped and pinned Mark Becks of Penn State at 174 pounds, bringing life back to the Cowboy section in the crowd. Iowa's momentum train continued to roll, with wins by 174 pounder Ben Skirk and 184 pounder Jessman Smith. The win by No. 8 seed Smith over No. 9 seed Cash Edwards of Boise State was a tight 2-1 decision, and kept Iowa's second tier of wrestlers on track to add important team points. The Minnesota crowd got the last say in the second session. When Olympic bronze medalist Garrett Lowney, the No. 1 seed, stepped out on the mat, the Lowney, Lowney, Lowney chants began. His opponent was Dawid Rechul of Harvard. Lowney dispatched Rechul with a rapid pin, and the Gopher fans raised the volume to its loudest. The fans did a good job reminding everyone that the Gophers were still winning at this time, in spite of Iowa's impressive run. At the end of the heavyweight bouts of the second round, the team standings were still very close and interesting. 1. Minnesota, 41 points; 2. Iowa, 36.5 points; 3. Oklahoma State 31 points; 4. Oklahoma, 28 points; 5. Illinois, 25 points. Although the Gophers and Hawkeyes still held the edge, the race was still on, and the key quarterfinal round looms even bigger. Lost in the team battle are the many individual struggles for respect and honor. Antonio Garay, the Boston College heavyweight, is the top returning big man after placing fourth last year. However, he missed most of the year due to a football injury, coming in with an 8-0 record. He only received the No. 3 seed, behind super freshmen Lowney and Tommy Rowlands of Ohio State. Garay, a pinner, needed every bit of energy to escape upset, scoring an escape in the tie-breaker for a 5-4 win over unseeded Shawn Laughlin of Lehigh. Garay is the unknown quantity in this event, and will have to prove he has the steam to handle the grind of this three-day event. The session ended with wrestle-back action, which at this time has only a slight impact on the team fight, but means everything to the athletes on the mat. A loss and it's time to go home. A win keeps the goal of All-American status alive, at least until tomorrow. The stands are mostly empty, as the Iowa fans flocked out after the 184-pound match and the casual fans left for the restaurants and the hotels. These matches are for the hardcore wrestling fans, and we will report on the progress here at TheMat.com
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