CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The University of Iowa wrestling team advanced four wrestlers to the finals of the Big Ten Championships following semifinal action tonight at Assembly Hall. Two-time defending champion Matt McDonough will chase his third conference title, while Tony Ramos, Mark Ballweg and Mike Evans target their first career Big Ten crown tomorrow night on the campus of Illinois
“I know we have four in the finals and some with work to do on the back of the bracket,” said head coach Tom Brands. “We have to be ready to battle. There is a lot of wrestling left.”
The Hawkeyes sit in third place after two sessions with 109 points. Penn State leads the team race with 123 and Minnesota climbed into second place with 112.5. Ohio State (92) and Illinois (72.5) round out the top 5.
McDonough pinned Michigan’s Sean Boyle in 2:46 to advance past the semifinals at 125 pounds. McDonough and Boyle were scoreless through most of the first period before McDonough emerged from a scramble and put Boyle’s shoulders on the mat.
“I’ve been there a lot this year. It’s a scramble position so you could say I feel comfortable there, but really you want to be hitting smart holds,” said McDonough. “They didn’t call it a two but I was looking for back points.”
The trip to the finals is McDonough’s fourth. He placed second as a freshman and won the title each of the last two seasons. He will meet third-seeded Jesse Delgado of Illinois in the title bout.
Ramos will make his second consecutive trip to the conference finals following his 3-1 decision over third-seeded Tyler Graff of Wisconsin. The wrestlers traded escapes in the second and third periods before Ramos scored a takedown off a single-leg counter to punch his ticket to the finals. He will meet Ohio State’s top-seeded Logan Stieber in the 133-pound finals for the second straight year.
Ballweg wrestled to a 1-1 tie after three periods before avenging a loss to Minnesota’s Nick Dardanes. Dardanes scored a major decision against Ballweg just two weeks ago, but today the Hawkeye senior finished a takedown in the first sudden victory period to earn a 3-1 victory and advance to the 141-pound finals.
“I just had to stay with it,” said Ballweg. “I almost gave up a takedown at the end of regulation, but I stayed focused as they overturned it and came back with a takedown. He’s a great competitor so I came out ready. I was able to make an adjustment today and change the outcome.”
Ballweg will face Ohio State’s top-seeded Hunter Stieber in the finals.
After a scoreless first, Evans took No. 6 Jordan Blanton for a two-minute ride in the second period and opened the third frame with a reversal to grab control of the 174-pound semifinal. He exposed Blanton for three nearfall points in the third and finished with 2:22 of riding time to advance with a 6-0 victory. The second-seeded Evans will face No. 5 Matt Brown (PSU) in the finals.
The Hawkeyes have five wrestlers competing on the back side of the bracket. Top-seeded Derek St. John and No. 4 Bobby Telford each dropped a pair of one-point decisions, and Nathan Burak was topped in overtime to get bounced from the championship bracket.
St. John surrendered two takedowns and 1:05 of riding time to fall to No. 4 James Green, 5-4, in the 157-pound semis.
Defending champion Tony Nelson’s second period escape held up in a 1-0 win over Telford at 285, and Burak lost control of a single-leg shot in the first overtime period and subsequently fell to No. 2 Scott Schiller, 3-1.
Nick Moore (165) and Ethen Lofthouse (184) were also sent to the consolation bracket following semifinal defeats.
The Hawkeyes are still alive in nine weight classes, four in the championships and five in the consolation bracket. Josh Dziewa (149) was eliminated from the tournament following a 3-2 loss the Illinois’ Caleb Ervin.
The 2013 Big Ten Championships resume tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. (CT). Consolation semifinals kick off the competition inside Assembly Hall. BTN will televise the finals live beginning at 1:30 p.m. (CT).
BIG TEN TEAM STANDINGS AFTER SESSION II
Team – Points
1. Penn State – 123
2. Minnesota – 112.5
3. IOWA – 109
4. Ohio State – 92
5. Illinois – 72.5
6. Michigan – 61
7. Nebraska – 52
8. Northwestern – 50
9. Purdue – 29
10. Indiana – 26.5
11. Wisconsin – 26
12. Michigan State – 17
BIG TEN SESSION II RESULTS (# indicates tournament seed)
149 – #6 Caleb Ervin (ILL) dec. Josh Dziewa (Iowa), 3-2 (1:01 RT)
CHAMPIONSHIP SEMIFINAL RESULTS
125 – #1 Matt McDonough (IOWA) pinned #4 Sean Boyle (UM), 2:42
133 – #2 Tony Ramos (IOWA) dec. #3 Tyler Graff (UW), 3-1
141 – #3 Mark Ballweg (IOWA) dec. #2 Nick Dardanes (MINN), 3-1 (SV1)
157 – #4 James Green (NEB) dec. #1 Derek St. John (IOWA), 5-4 (1:05 RT)
165 – #1 David Taylor (PSU) tech. fall #4 Nick Moore (IOWA), 15-0
174 – #2 Mike Evans (IOWA) dec. #6 Jordan Blanton (ILL), 6-0 (2:22 RT)
184 – #1 Ed Ruth (PSU) dec. #5 Ethen Lofthouse (IOWA), 10-1 (1:57 RT)
197 – #3 Scott Schiller (MINN) dec. #6 Nathan Burak (IOWA), 3-1 (SV1)
285 – #1 Tony Nelson (MINN) dec. #4 Bobby Telford (IOWA), 1-0