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No. 1 Hawkeyes place five in semifinals, move closer to winning NCAA title

Iowa’s Matt McDonough turns Virginia Tech’s Jarrod Garnett in the quarterfinals. Mike Vayan photo.

OMAHA, Neb. " The Iowa Hawkeyes moved another step closer to their 23rd national championship.

Another big step.

Top-ranked Iowa placed five wrestlers in the semifinals as it widened its gap on the rest of the field during Session 3 of the NCAA Championships on Friday at the Qwest Center.

The sellout crowd of 15,613 fans saw the Hawkeyes increase their point total to 73. Cornell is in second with 54 points and three wrestlers in the semis. Cornell won 10 straight matches to close the session.

Iowa State and Ohio State are tied for third with 46 points each. ISU has three in the semis and Ohio State two.

Iowa’s first four quarterfinalists " Matt McDonough (125), Daniel Dennis (133), Montell Marion (141) and Brent Metcalf (149) " each collected wins to boost the Hawkeyes. Teammate Jay Borschel (174) also advanced to the semis.

Dennis edged Iowa State’s Nick Fanthorpe with a late takedown in the quarters.

“We just need to keep progressing in the right direction as a team,” Dennis said. “There was a sense of urgency late in the match and I didn’t want it to go into overtime. I had to get those points at the end and I was able to do it.”

Five past champions remained alive to win titles. That group includes Metcalf, Indiana’s Angel Escobedo (125), Michigan State’s Franklin Gomez (133), Edinboro’s Jarrod King (165) and Iowa State’s Jake Varner (197).

Returning champion Mark Ellis of Missouri dropped a 4-1 quarterfinal decision to top seed David Zabriskie of Iowa State at 285.

All 10 No. 1 seeds have reached the semifinals. That group includes Escobedo, Varner, Zabriskie, Minnesota’s Jayson Ness (133), Cornell’s Kyle Dake (141), Ohio State’s Lance Palmer (149), Harvard’s J.P. O’Connor (165), Cornell’s Mack Lewnes (174) and Boise State’s Kirk Smith (184).

Palmer has turned in a dominating tournament after knocking off Metcalf in the Big Ten finals. A possible Palmer-Metcalf rematch is one of the most anticipated bouts of this event.

“I just have to focus on the match in front of me,” Palmer said. “I can’t worry about the other side of the bracket and what (Metcalf) is doing. If you look ahead, that’s when you get knocked off. I’m attacking guys and going after them.”

Missouri’s Max Askren advanced to the semifinals at 184. He’s looking to join two-time NCAA champion Ben Askren, his brother, as a national champ.

Max Askren is a two-time All-American.

“This is my senior year and my last shot to win this,” said Askren, the No. 6 seed. “I’m just going out there and having fun, and wrestling as hard as I can.”

The semifinals are set for 6 p.m. Friday. The finals are set for Saturday night at 6:30.


125 Pounds
Angel Escobedo (Indiana) vs. Andrew Long (Iowa State)
Matt McDonough (Iowa) vs. Cashe Quiroga (Purdue)

133 Pounds
Jayson Ness (Minnesota) vs. Jordan Oliver (Oklahoma State)
Franklin Gomez (Michigan State) vs. Daniel Dennis (Iowa)

141 Pounds
Kyle Dake (Cornell) vs. Reece Humphrey (Ohio State)
Montell Marion (Iowa) vs. Tyler Nauman (Pittsburgh)

149 Pounds
Lance Palmer (Ohio State) vs. Frank Molinaro (Penn State)
Kyle Terry (Oklahoma) vs. Brent Metcalf (Iowa)

157 Pounds
J.P. O’Connor (Harvard) vs. Steve Fittery (American)
Justin Lister (Binghamton) vs. Chase Pami (Cal Poly)

165 Pounds
Andrew Howe (Wisconsin) vs. Tyler Caldwell (Oklahoma)
Dan Vallimont (Penn State) vs. Jarrod King (Edinboro)

174 Pounds
Mack Lewnes (Cornell) vs. Stephen Dwyer (Nebraska)
Chris Henrich (Virginia) vs. Jay Borschel (Iowa)

184 Pounds
Kirk Smith (Boise State) vs. Michael Cannon (American)
Max Askren (Missouri) vs. Joe LeBlanc (Wyoming)

197 Pounds
Jake Varner (Iowa State) vs. Cam Simaz (Cornell)
Hudson Taylor (Maryland) vs. Craig Brester (Nebraska)

285 Pounds
David Zabriskie (Iowa State) vs. Konrad Dudziak (Duke)
Zach Rey (Lehigh) vs. Jared Rosholt (Oklahoma State)
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