March 19, 2010

By Roger Moore

Special To

OMAHA, Neb. - The University of Iowa took one step closer to a third straight national title with a solid second session Thursday night at the 2010 NCAA Wrestling Championships inside Qwest Center.

Iowa pushed eight into Friday morning's quarterfinals and lead the field by 8.5 points with 34.5. Oklahoma State, with five in the quarters, is in second at 26. Iowa State is the only other squad with at least five in the round of 8 in the championship bracket. They will start the second day 8.5 points back in third.

Wisconsin, Ohio State and Oklahoma, with 23 points each, are tied for fourth, a point in front of Cornell.

Penn State and Boise State each have four still wrestling in the winner's bracket.

The Hawkeyes were 18-2 on the first day.

Thursday night started with redshirt-freshman 125-pounder Matt McDonough rallying to beat Pittsburgh's Anthony Zanetta and finished with heavyweight Dan Erekson's pin of Navy's Scott Steele.

In between, Dan Dennis (133), Montel Marion (141), Brent Metcalf (149), Ryan Morningstar (165), Jay Borschel (174) and Phil Keddy (184) all won for the second time in the tournament.

Morningstar avenged a regular season loss to Oklahoma State's Alex Meade, winning, 3-2. Keddy beat Harvard's two-time All-American Louis Caputo.

Oklahoma State had seven in the championship bracket when wrestling started Thursday night. Along with Meade, OSU also saw 197-pounder Alan Gelogaev drop a one-point match to Minnesota's eighth-seeded Sonny Yohn.

Jordan Oliver (133), Jamal Parks (141), Mike Benefiel (174), Clayton Foster (184) and Jared Rosholt (285) each won to move to the quarters.

Benefiel rallied with a third period reversal to beat Binghamton's Josh Patterson, 3-1, with Foster just getting by Lehigh senior David Craig, 10-8. Rosholt finished the session for the Cowboys win a first period pin.

Iowa State will be represented in the quarters by 125-pounder Andrew Long, 133-pounder Nick Fanthorpe, 149-pounder Mitch Mueller and heavyweight David Zabriskie.

The Nittany Lions still have 125-pounder Brad Pataky, 149-pounder Frank Molinaro, 157-pounder Cyler Sanderson and 165-pounder Dan Vallimont in the championship bracket.

The upsets continued. The pigtails and first round produced 23 matches considered upsets. That total is just one short of the last two NCAA Championships combined.

At the top of the list is Cornell's Troy Nickerson, the 2009 champion at 125. The Big Red senior was taken down in the final seconds by Boston's Fred Santaite, a freshman who was second in the CAA Championships. Santiate will face another unseeded wrestler, Purdue's Cashe Quiroga on Friday morning.

Minnesota's struggles continued when third-seeded 141-pounder Mike Thorn drop his second round match to Ohio's Germane Lindsey.

The fourth seed at 149, Wisconsin's Kyle Ruschell, was beaten by Edinboro's Torsten Gillespie.

Oklahoma's Tyler Caldwell stunned fifth-seeded Colt Sponseller of Ohio State at 165. Caldwell, a true freshman, beat the 12th seed, Indiana's Paul Young in the first round. Caldwell and Old Dominion's Chris Brown - a first round winner over fourth-seeded Jon Reader of Iowa State - face off on Friday morning.

Indiana heavyweight Nate Everhart, who entered the Big Ten Championships unbeaten and was the sixth seed with a 35-1 mark coming to Omaha, lost to Minnesota's Ben Berhow.

The 157-pound bracket has two unseeded wrestlers in the quarters - Northern Colorado's Justin Gaethje and Binghamton's Justin Lister.

The championship quarterfinals - and the nasty world of the wrestlebacks - hit the mats at 9:30 a.m. on Friday.

Elite 88 winner

Stanford's Nick Amuchastegui won to wrestling matches on Thursday and was also honored with the NCAA's Elite 88 Award, given to a student-athlete with the highest grade point average of those competing in each of the NCAA's 88 championships.

Amuchastegui beat Missouri's third seeded Nick Marable in the first round and Maryland's Josh Asper in the second round.

The mechanical engineering major has a 4.0 GPA.