EVANSTON, Ill. — In the closest team race in the 98-year history of the Big Ten Wrestling Championships, the second-ranked University of Iowa wrestling team placed second Sunday at Welsh-Ryan Arena while crowning two individual champions.|EVANSTON, Ill. — In the closest team race in the 98-year history of the Big Ten Wrestling Championships, the second-ranked University of Iowa wrestling team placed second Sunday at Welsh-Ryan Arena while crowning two individual champions. Penn State University won its first conference team title in school history with 139 points, edging out Iowa by one. Sophomore Matt McDonough (125) and junior Blake Rasing (Hwt.) each won individual titles for the Hawkeyes.
McDonough collected his first Big Ten title with a 3-1 decision over Northwestern’s Brandon Precin at 125. Trailing 1-0 after two periods, the top-seeded Hawkeye sophomore escaped to tie the score at 1-1. Both wrestlers were caught in an offensive scramble, but McDonough came out on top to score the takedown halfway through the third period. He rode the #2 seeded Precin the rest of the bout to post his 60th career victory and his 11th straight win. McDonough is Iowa’s third 125-pound Big Ten champion. Former Hawkeye Jody Strittmatter won titles in 2000 and 2001.
Rasing, who was seeded third, scored a takedown and two nearfall points in the third period to beat #4 seed Tony Nelson of Minnesota, 5-2. The win was Rasing’s sixth-straight and improved his record to 17-5 this season and 35-14 in his career. The Hawkeye junior is Iowa’s 12th heavyweight Big Ten Champion. Iowa has won the title at that weight class the last three seasons, as former Hawkeye Dan Erekson won titles in 2009 and 2010.
Placing second for the Hawkeyes were senior Luke Lofthouse (#2 seed at 197) and redshirt freshman Derek St. John (#2 seed at 157). Lofthouse lost his finals bout with top seed Trevor Brandvold of Wisconsin, 5-2. St. John scored the first takedown in his finals match with top seed David Taylor of Penn State, but Taylor scored a takedown in each period to post an 8-3 decision. Taylor was named 2011 Big Ten Wrestler and Freshman of the Year at the conclusion of the meet.
Hawkeye senior Aaron Janssen (#4 seed at 165) and redshirt freshmen Tony Ramos (#3 seed at 133) and Ethen Lofthouse (#5 seed at 174) wrestled back for third place, with all three Hawkeyes posting 2-0 records on the day. Janssen scored takedowns near the end of both of his matches, beating #6 seed Dan Yates of Michigan (3-1) and #3 seed Cody Yohn of Minnesota (4-2). Ramos received a medical forfeit from #8 seed Ian Paddock of Ohio State and posted a 6-2 decision over #4 seed B.J. Futrell of Illinois. Lofthouse avenged earlier season losses by beating #4 seed Luke Manuel of Purdue (4-1) and #3 seed Scott Glasser of Minnesota (6-3).
Also wrestling back for the Hawkeyes were junior Montell Marion (#2 seed at 141), who placed fourth, and sophomore Grant Gambrall (#3 seed at 184), who placed fifth. Marion beat #5 seed Andrew Alton of Penn State (3-2) in the consolation semifinals before losing to #4 seed Jimmy Kennedy of Illinois (9-6). Gambrall was pinned by top seed Travis Rutt of Wisconsin in his first consolation match, but responded with a 10-2 major decision over #5 seed Tony Dallago of Illinois for fifth place.
The Hawkeyes automatically qualified nine wrestlers (McDonough, Ramos, Marion, St. John, Janssen, Ethen Lofthouse, Gambrall, Luke Lofthouse and Rasing) for the upcoming NCAA Championships. The three-day tournament will be held March 17-19 at Wells Fargo Arena in Philadelphia, Pa. Hawkeye sophomore Mark Ballweg (149), who was eliminated from the Big Ten tournament on Saturday, must earn one of the 48 at-large bids in order for Iowa to qualify its entire 10-man lineup. The at-large selections will be announced March 9 at 5 p.m. (CT) on NCAA.com.
FINAL BIG TEN TEAM STANDINGS
Place Team – Points
1. Penn State – 139
2. Iowa – 138
3. Minnesota – 109.5
4. Wisconsin – 103.5
5. Michigan – 86.5
6. Illinois – 64
7. Northwestern – 62
8. Ohio State – 57
9. Purdue – 51
10. Indiana – 50
11. Michigan State – 49.5