March 10, 2009

Courtesy of Iowa Athletics

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The top-ranked Hawkeye wrestling team won it second straight Big Ten title, and the school's 33rd, while crowning two individual champions at the 2009 Big Ten Wrestling Championships Sunday at University Park, PA. The Hawkeyes tallied 141 points over the two-day tournament, automatically qualifying nine wrestlers for the upcoming NCAA Championships in St. Louis, MO. Illinois placed second with 113.5.

Hawkeye juniors Brent Metcalf (149) and Dan Erekson (Hwt.) won individual conference titles for Iowa. Metcalf was named Outstanding Wrestler of the meet for the second straight season, becoming the first Hawkeye to earn the honor twice. Iowa Head Coach Tom Brands was named Big Ten Coach of the Year for the second straight season. Former Hawkeye Head Coach Dan Gable was the last Iowa coach to earn the honor in consecutive seasons (1995-96).

It was the first time that Iowa won two straight Big Ten team titles since the 1997 and 1998 seasons, and the first time the Hawkeyes crowned more than one Big Ten champion since 2003.

"The team title takes care of itself with individual performances, and we had nine guys that scored some pretty good points for us," said Brands. "We didn't place lower than fifth at nine weights, and that is important. We did a pretty good job of coming back in the consolation matches too."

Metcalf became the first Hawkeye to win back-to-back Big Ten titles since Cliff Moore (2003-04) when he pinned #2 Bubba Jenkins of Penn State in 4:52 in the finals match. The pin boosts his season total to 18 falls, which ranks ninth in school history. The top-seeded junior pinned three opponents and scored one major decision en route to his title and outstanding wrestler honors. Metcalf is now 33-0 on the season and has won his last 65 bouts.

Erekson won his first Big Ten title with a 10-2 major decision over #3 Kyle Massey of Wisconsin in the heavyweight finals. The top-seeded junior is Iowa's first Big Ten champion at heavyweight since Steve Mocco in 2003. Third-seeded Hawkeye juniors Ryan Morningstar (165) and Phillip Keddy (184) both placed second at their respective weight classes. Morningstar lost a 2-1 decision in the tiebreak period to top-seeded Andrew Howe of Wisconsin in the 165-pound final, while Keddy lost an 8-1 decision to top-seeded Jake Herbert of Northwestern in the 184-pound final.

Iowa seniors Charlie Falck (125-3rd) and Alex Tsirtsis (141-4th), and juniors Daniel Dennis (133-5th), Jay Borschel (174-3rd) and Chad Beatty (197-4th) wrestled back through the consolation bracket to place at the Big Ten meet and earn NCAA automatic bids. Falck, who was seeded second, scored his 90th career victory with a 5-4 win over #5 Zach Sanders of Minnesota in the consolation semifinals before posting a 13-3 major decision over #4 Brad Pataky of Penn State for third place. Borschel, the 174-pound #2 seed, also placed third with a 7-0 win over #4 Dave Rella of Ohio State in the consolation semifinals and a 3:10 pin of #5 John Dergo of Illinois in the placing match. Tsirtsis posted his 25th season win in the consolation semifinals, using an escape in the tiebreak period to beat #4 Mike Thorn of Minnesota, 2-1. The third-seeded Hawkeye lost a close 4-3 decision to #5 J Jaggers of Ohio State to place fourth. Beatty scored a takedown and nearfall points as time expired to post a 6-3 win over #4 Gordon Bierschenk of Minnesota in the consolation semifinals, ensuring his bid to the NCAA meet. Beatty, who was seeded third, posted a medical forfeit to #5 Patrick Bond to place fourth. Dennis, who was the top seed at 133, lost a 4-3 decision to #3 Jimmy Kennedy of Illinois in the consolation semifinals before bouncing back with an 11-7 win over #6 Jake Strayer of Penn State for fifth place.

Iowa's nine NCAA qualifiers will head to the 2009 NCAA Championships, March 19-21, at St. Louis, MO. The Hawkeyes are the defending team champion and will vy for the school's 22nd NCAA title. All matches will be held at the Scottrade Center. The championship semifinals will be televised live on ESPN 2 and the championship finals will be aired live on ESPN. Tickets to the event are available at (800) 745-3000 or ticketmaster.com.

FINAL BIG TEN TEAM STANDINGS
Place Team - Points (Champions)
1. Iowa - 141 (2)
2. Illinois - 113.5 (1)
3. Michigan - 92.5 (3)
4. Wisconsin - 88 (1)
5. Minnesota - 86 (0)
6. Ohio State - 80 (0)
7. Penn State - 79.5 (0)
8. Northwestern - 73.5 (1)
9. Indiana - 67.5 (1)
10. Purdue - 52 (0)
11. Michigan State - 45.5 (1)