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Division I Championships - Session V Update



The question coming into session five is this; who's going to win this clambake Iowa leads with 112 points, placing four stars into the finals, with three other All-Americans fighting for position. Minnesota is just 2 points back with 109.5, but has no finalists and all 10 wrestlers in All-American status. Oklahoma State, another three points back at 106, has six men in the money, three in the finals and three in the consolations. Every match is important; every point is important. The key to this session is getting people to third place, gaining bonus points and knocking off the other top teams. This has been a tournament of missed opportunities. Minnesota Gopher fans are shaking their heads after losing all five semifinal matches last evening. Place a pair in the gold-medal match, and this thing would be almost over. They are also kicking themselves over the one team point the Gophers lost when the coaches got too excited during the Brad Pike match. Oklahoma State Cowboy fans are also bewildered. When Reggie Wright, the No. 1 seed at 149 pounds, was eliminated in the consolations by JaMarr Billman of Lock Haven, Wright did not place. Wright only scored four of OSU's 106 points. A more representative performance by Wright, even a low All-American position, might have given the edge to the Cowboys. Hawkeye fans can't be unhappy. All four of their senior stars (Strittmatter, Juergens, Schwab and Williams) did their jobs and made the finals. Three others made the All-American rounds. The Hawkeyes really can defend, in spite of their lack of depth. There is a new scoring system which gives additional points for the wrestlebacks. According to J Carl Guymon, the wrestling guru who has been involved helping create the scoring changes, the team standings would be such: 1. Iowa, 104; 2. Oklahoma State, 97; 3. Minnesota, 81.5. Everybody thinks that Minnesota, with 10 athletes able to add to the point total, has the edge going in. All of the journalists are preparing their lead story for tonight, explaining how Minnesota could become the first team champion without an individual finalist. Everyone remembers 1988, when Arizona State claimed the title with no champions, and just one runner-up, Mike Davies. Balance could win over power. If you do the match, Minnesota has the most room to move up, with the potential to score 38 more points. Oklahoma State has a potential 25.5 points to claim, and leader Iowa can tack on 22.5 more points. You see why Iowa says they need to win every match they can, no real room for error. The first round of bouts are key. These matches determine which athletes go for third and which go for fifth. There are some key battles between the contending teams. At 125, No. 3 Leroy Vega of Minnesota squared off with No. 6 Matt Brown of Oklahoma State. Vega scored the first takedown, and Brown escaped for a 2-1 lead after one. Vega scored the next two points for a 4-2 lead, and a Brown escape made it 4-3 after two. Vega escaped in the third period, taking a 5-3 lead, and finished the match off on his feet, adding riding time for the 6-3 win. The Gopher fans celebrated wildly as the team got off to a strong start. At 149, No. 3 Jared Lawrence of Minnesota faced unseeded Mike Zadick of Iowa. Zadick came out firing away, scoring two quick takedowns for a 4-1 lead. After a Lawrence sitout, Zadick snapped him down to his back for three backpoints and a commanding 7-1 lead. Lawrence escaped to end the period trailing 7-2. The second period was an extension of the first. Zadick escaped, then slammed a double leg takedown for a 10-2 lead. Lawrence got his escape, but not after Zadick went over a minute in riding. Zadick scored the next takedown for a 12-3 lead. Lawrence escaped for a 12-4 score at the beginning of the third period, then Zadick score another takedown for a 14-4 lead. Lawrence got back on his feet, trailing 14-5, but Zadick slammed him down again gor a 16-5 lead. The riding time point made it 17-5, a commanding major decision that made a big point that Iowa was not going to just give it up to the Gophers. At 174, No. 4 Tyrone Lewis of Oklahoma State battled No. 10 Jacob Volkman of Minnesota. The match featured no takedowns in the first period. Volkman led 3-1 in the third period. When Lewis escaped with less than 20 seconds left, Volkman quickly spun behind for a takedown and the 5-2 win. This was a key upset for the Gophers, making up a little bit for the Lawrence loss. Every single Minnesota match has meaning. This is the session that the Gophers need to shine, racking up a big enough lead to hold off the points from the Hawkeye and Cowboy finalists. On side by side by side mats, the Iowa/Minnesota/Oklahoma State mix was going all at the same time. On mat three, surprising Shane Roller of Oklahoma State rode out former NCAA champion Kirk White of Boise State in a tiebreaker for a clutch win at 157 pounds. At 174 pounds, Otto Olson of Michigan defeated Gabe McMahan of Iowa, 4-2. On the next match, after trailing 3-0, Minnesota's Garrett Lowney came back for a 4-3 win at heavyweight over Billy Blunt of Fresno State. By the 174 pound class, Minnesota had climbed into the lead, seven points over Iowa. With wins at 197 pounds and heavyweight, Minnesota stretched the lead to 14 points over Iowa at the end of this set of matches. In the consolation semifinals, Minnesota took a few dings but performed very well, winning six of eight bouts. By the time the seventh place matches began, the buzz on press row was that the team race had all but been decided in that round. This is also the time to evaluate the individual All-Americans, and make conclusions about strength of wrestling nationwide. The state that developed the most individual All-Americans was Ohio with eight, followed by Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Illinois with seven. Next came Minnesota and Iowa with six, followed California and Oklahoma with five. Wrestling athletes are great, no matter where they come from, in spite of where the college programs are strong. The third and fifth place matches are the time when athletes can make final statements about themselves and their teams. When No. 3 Leroy Vega of Minnesota came out and beat A.J. Grant for third place at 125 pounds, he was excited for his ability to help his team, while frustrated that he was not able to reach his individual goals as a national champion. Another athlete with high hopes, Arizona State's talented No. 3 Eric Larkin of Arizona State, lost in the quarterfinals, relaxed a bit, and came back strong for third place at 141 pounds. A few surprise wrestlers finished off amazing tournaments and showed character and skill on the big stage. Iowa's Mike Zadick, unseeded coming in, continued his magic at 149 pounds with a last-second takedown for a win over Jared Frayer of Oklahoma and third place in the tournament. No. 12 Shane Roller opened up his offense early and stopped Minnesota's Luke Becker for his own third place medal. Both wrestlers performed well beyond expections of others, but within their own personal belief in themselves. Team points are at a premium in this round as well. At one point, three Minnesota wrestlers were on the mats and losing at the same time, Brad Pike, Luke Becker and Jared Lawrence. However, the Gopher big men put down the hammer and closed the deal for the team. Both Owen Elzen at 197 pounds and Garrett Lowney at heavyweight scored pins and the team had a wild celebration in the tunnel under the stadium after a spectacular session. As the stadium emptied, the team scores for the session were announced, in reverse order of course. 10th - Boise State, 47. Ninth - Arizona State, 48; Eighth - Nebraska, 52.5; Seventh - Iowa State, 62.5; Sixth - Michigan, 65.5; Fifth - Illinois, 81; Fourth - Oklahoma, 89.5; Third - Oklahoma State, 115.5; Second - Iowa, 117.5 and First - Minnesota, 138.5. The lead had been stretched to 21 points. Minnesota will score no more points this year, but has made a run through the wrestle-backs that will be remembered for many, many years to come.
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