ST. LOUIS -- Logan Stieber joined an exclusive club on Saturday night.
The senior 141-pounder for Ohio State beat Edinboro’s Mitchell Port 11-5 to win a fourth national title and become just the fourth wrestler in NCAA history to accomplish that feat.
“This is something I have dreamed about since I came to Ohio State,” said Stieber, who finishes a 29-0 this season and a 119-3 career for the Buckeyes. “To finally do it is unbelievable.”Two slick first-period takedowns built a small cushion. Stieber scored another takedown and took a 7-2 lead and 2:38 of riding time to the final two minutes of his collegiate career. A double-leg midway through the third made it 10-2.
Port (36-2), also a senior, made one last push by scoring a late takedown, but it was too little, too late as the capacity Scottrade Center came to its feet and gave Stieber a standing ovation. Following the tournament the Outstanding Wrestler Award also belonged to Stieber.
Oklahoma State’s Pat Smith won his fourth NCAA title and highlighted the Cowboys’ 1994 team championship. Iowa State’s Cael Sanderson won four and finished his career without a loss. Cornell’s Kyle Dake made history when he won four championships and four different weight classes.
Stieber is the leader of a Buckeye squad that claimed the program’s first team title this weekend. OSU totaled 102 points, 16 more than second place Iowa. Edinboro, at 75.5, finished a program-best third, with Missouri, Cornell and Penn State rounding out the top six.
“Logan has been a pillar in the program, the growth of the program,” Ohio State head coach Tom Ryan said. “People want to be around him, so we’re going to miss him. I asked him if he wanted to stay a few more years.
“Being in a position to win two, three national titles takes a special, disciplined student-athlete. Obviously to win four is extraordinary. Logan is extraordinary; he’s been that way since he stepped on our campus.”
The finals schedule was changed with the 141-pound bout moved to the end.
“I can flush it in and out,” Stieber said on Friday night. “I see the cameras in my face every time I go to the bathroom or say 'hi' to my mom, but it doesn't affect me. I just do what I’m here to do.”
Stieber’s teammate, freshman Nathan Tomasello, opened his collegiate career with a national title at 125 pounds. Tomasello thwarted West Virginia freshman Zeke Moisey’s attempt to become the first unseeded wrestler to claim an NCAA crown since Oklahoma State’s Mark Branch in 1994.
Moisey (31-13) shocked the Scottrade Center crowd Friday night when he cradled and pinned Iowa’s Thomas Gilman in 52 seconds. Moisey, a freshman from Northhampton, Pennsylvania, let it fly in the finals against Tomasello, but came out on the short end of a 9-5 score.
Iowa State senior Kyven Gadson finished in style. He fought off a single-leg attack by Ohio State freshman Kyle Snyder and countered with a sweet toss for a pin at 4:24 of the 197-pound final.
Gadson’s father, Willie, was a two-time All-American (1975 and 1976) for Iowa State. He died a day after Kyven won the 2013 Big 12 title.
“It’s something that I’ve worked for a long time … put a lot of time, energy, effort, tears, smiles, all that has gone into this. I spent a lot of extra practices with my dad,” Gadson said Friday night.
“He’s not here to see this, but all that is coming. I remember I was watching a video of my first practice. I think he had sent me into a tournament just to see what type of kid I was. Then we came home and turned on the camera in the living room. I didn’t listen. I was just hard-headed. I wasn’t listening to him and he said: You weren’t laughing when you were getting your butt kicked. Then at the end of the video he said this is Kyven’s first practice, and we have a long way to go, but we’re going to get there.”
Following his win Saturday, Gadson joked about the length of his media session the night before.
“You want it longer than the one last night?” he said. “Well, you know there wasn’t a lot of offense going around. I didn’t really commit to anything until I saw that move show up.
"And coach [Kevin] Jackson calls it the ‘Gadson’ and you don’t see nobody hitting it. He said, ‘You gotta hit it on the big stage for it to really stick.’ Yeah, I think it’s gonna stick.”
Oklahoma State junior Alex Dieringer won the 100th match of his career with a comfortable 14-7 decision of Indiana’s Taylor Walsh in the 165-pound final. Dieringer, 34-0 this season, was a champion at 157 pounds in 2014.
“[Coach John Smith] always told me the second one’s harder,” said Dieringer, who has just four career losses.
“So I feel like this one feels a lot more special to me. Just coming back and going undefeated and pretty much getting 90 percent bonus matches. And moving up, too, which made it a lot harder. So I feel like I did pretty good this season.
“It’s also a great feeling, knowing I got 100 wins and it’s only my junior season … and on top of that getting another national title.”
North Carolina State junior Nick Gwiazdowski (35-0) joined Dieringer as a two-time champion. Gwiazdowski led early and held off a late charge to beat Michigan sophomore Adam Coon 7-6 in the 285-pound finals.
Illinois rookie Isaiah Martinez (34-0) dominated Cornell’s Brian Realbuto 10-2 in the 157-pound title tilt. The first period included a handful of fantastic flurries, but in the end Martinez proved too much.
“I’ve been working at this 14 years,” said Martinez, the first undefeated freshman since Sanderson. “Wrestling is my life. I plan on being around it forever. I don’t plan on doing anything else the rest of my life.”
The Big Red’s second finalist, sophomore Gabe Dean, beat Lehigh’s Nathaniel Brown in the 184-pound final. A third-period takedown was the difference in a 6-2 victory for Dean (44-2).
Video review won the day at 174 pounds. Penn State’s Matt Brown and Pittsburgh’s Tyler Wilps wrestled a wild seven minutes, then stood through a number of coaches challenges. The final 25 seconds included a takedown by Wilps (19-4) for a 4-3 lead, a stalling call on Wilps to tie it at 4-4, and apparently send it to overtime.
Sanderson, PSU’s head coach, challenged the call and after a lengthy review that required multiple looks Brown was awarded a point for a locked hands violation. The scoreboard read 5-4 and Brown (29-3), who lost in the finals in 2013, was awarded the win.
“When you’re a little kid you dream of hitting that grand slam in the ninth inning,” Brown said. “Sometimes it’s a bunt. I never remember winning a match like that. [The wait] probably seemed longer for the fans but my coaches were trying to keep me positive and ready to go.”
The first bout of the night required extra wrestling as Missouri’s Drake Houdeshelt and Edinboro’s David Habat, both seniors, went to overtime tied at 1-1 where Habat (36-3) lost his balance during a takedown attempt. Houdeshelt pounced on the Fighting Scot and won 3-1. The Tiger senior, a three-time All-American, finishes 37-1.
Oklahoma junior Cody Brewer (22-1) put his No. 13 seed to bed with a finals victory against Iowa’s Corey Clark. Brewer had three major decisions, a pin and the decision against Clark for the week.
“Thirteen to No. 1, that’s all that matters now,” Brewer said.
The 2016 NCAA championships are slated for Madison Square Garden. The 2015 tournament drew an NCAA record 113,013 fans for the six sessions.