March 9, 2009

By Amy Farnum Novin

REPEAT OFFENDERS:  Top-ranked Iowa won back-to-back Big Ten Championships for the first time since the 1997 and 1998 seasons as the Hawkeyes breezed to the team title 27.5 points ahead of second-place Illinois last weekend.

Junior 149-pound Brent Metcalf remained perfect on the year as he became the first Hawkeye to claim Most Outstanding Wrestler of the Tournament honors for the second consecutive season.  He pinned Penn State’s Bubba Jenkins in 4:52 to win the final match.  

Metcalf improved to 33-0 on the year after pinning three opponents and notching a major decision during his title run.  He is the first Iowa wrestler to win back-to-back league titles since Cliff Moore accomplished the feat in 2003-04.  The native of Davison, Mich., has won 65 straight matches.

With nine NCAA qualifiers, Iowa will be looking to defend last year’s team championship at the 2009 NCAA Championships in St. Louis, Mo., on March 19-21.  The Hawkeyes have won 21 national titles.

A SPLIT DECISION:  After entering the Big 12 Conference championship finals trailing Iowa State by nine points, Nebraska rallied to win four individual titles and share of the league wrestling title with the two-time defending conference champion Cyclones.

The Big 12 championship was the first for the Huskers, and their first league wrestling title since winning the 1995 Big Eight championship.  Juniors Jordan Burroughs (157) and Craig Brester (197), and seniors Brandon Browne (174) and Vince Jones (184) gave Nebraska four conference champions for only the third time in program history.  NU also had four champions in 1949 and 1995.

Brester’s 4-3 decision against Iowa State’s top-ranked 197-pound Jake Varner propelled the Huskers be in position for a share of the trophy.  Earlier in the tournament, Brester knocked off Missouri’s Max Askren in the semifinals.  The native of Howells, Neb., was named Big 12 Tournament Most Outstanding Wrestler for his contributions.

SEEING RED: No. 2 Cornell cruised to its third consecutive EIWA Tournament title as the Big Red collected four individual championships and seven NCAA automatic qualifiers last weekend.

Junior Troy Nickerson, the top-ranked collegiate wrestler at 125 pounds, posted a 5-2 win over Penn’s Rolie Peterkin in the championship finals to remain flawless on the year with a 20-0 mark.  He also earned the Sheridan Award given to the wrestler that wins the most matches by fall in the least amount of time.  It is Nickerson’s second EIWA title.  

NOTABLE:  Maryland captured its second straight Atlantic Coast Conference team title as the Terrapins outdistanced Virginia by two points.  The Terps won the championship by the same margin last year as well.  Maryland has won 20 ACC crowns in program history … Hofstra claimed its eighth consecutive Colonial Athletic Association title on March 7 as the Pride extended their streak of league titles since becoming a member in 2002 … Although Hofstra ran away with the CAA team title, George Mason freshman Mendbagana Tovuujav garnered the meet’s Most Outstanding Wrestler award after a stunning upset to win the 174-pound title.  Tovuujav surprised ninth-ranked Alton Lucas of Hofstra, 3-1, in overtime as he qualified for his first NCAA Championships.  Touvuujav and 197-pound Cayle Byers are the first GMU wrestlers to win CAA titles since 2004.