NORMAN, Okla. – The Iowa State wrestling team took home a pair of Big 12 titles Saturday evening at Oklahoma’s McCassland Fieldhouse. Cyclone grapplers Lelund Weatherspoon and top-ranked Kyven Gadson both won their weight classes at 184 and 197, respectively.
“I thought we ended the tournament well,” head coach Kevin Jackson said. “Gabe Moreno wrestled a real strong final. He was just a few techniques from getting away late and giving himself a chance to win. Obviously getting two champs is a positive. It’s not easy to win a Big 12 title.”
Weatherspoon notched Iowa State’s first title of the evening, defeating Oklahoma State’s Nolan Boyd. Weatherspoon was pitted in a 3-0 hole after a Boyd takedown in the first period and escape to start the second period. Trailing 3-1 in the final period, the Jackson, Mich., native went on the offensive, scoring on an escape and then adding a takedown with 20 seconds left in the match. Weatherspoon was able to fend off a late flurry from Boyd to seal the victory, 4-3.
The victory moves Weatherspoon to 24-9 on the year and makes him the first Iowa State freshman to win a Big 12 title since heavyweight David Zabriskie in 2007. The Big 12 title by Weatherspoon secures the lone automatic-qualifying spot for the NCAA Championships that was up for grabs at 184 pounds today.
“It all worked out today and I was happy to get the two wins,” Weatherspoon said. “This is what I wanted today. I told the guys today on the bus that I was going to go out there, wrestle hard and get this title today. Iowa State has rich history and it’s amazing to have my name stamped in the record books.”
Gadson won his second consecutive Big 12 title this evening, defeating Oklahoma’s No. 7 Travis Rutt 4-3 in the second tiebreak period. Gadson’s match with Rutt was tacital from start to finish in regulation, as both wrestlers exchanged tieups, feeling each other out, looking for opportunities to score. Entering the second tiebreak, the match was tied at two. While both wrestlers were able to notch escapes in the second tiebreaker period, Gadson held a 9 second ride time advantage over Rutt, pushing him to the 4-3 win.
The Waterloo, Iowa, native joins his late father Willie Gadson (1975, 1976) as a two-time conference champion. Tonight, they became the first father-son duo in program histroy to both be two-time conference title winners. Gadson improved to 25-2 with his two wins today and will likely have the No. 1 seed at the upcoming NCAA Championships in Oklahoma City.
“It’s nice to get that second Big 12 title, especially with the history being made with my dad,” Gadson said. “It doesn’t real mean that much though unless I cap the season off with an NCAA title. Potentially having the No. 1 seed in my bracket at NCAAs will be nice, but I need to wrestle like it.”
At 165, No. 9 Michael Moreno fell to Oklahoma State’s No. 5 Tyler Caldwell. The 2013 All-American got into trouble early after Caldwell counterd a throw attempt by Moreno. The five-point move, followed by a three-point nearfall, pitted Moreno in an 8-0 hole after one period. The deficit was too much, as Caldwell prevailed 12-1 for his second straight Big 12 title.
As one of the top-two finishers in the Big 12 tournament, Moreno receives one of two automatic qualifer bids to the NCAA Championships. The loss drops Moreno to 26-7 on the year.
In the 141-pound title match, redshirt-freshman Gabe Moreno was up against Oklahoma State’s No. 17 Anthony Collica. Collica notched a takedown in the first period and an escape early in the second to stick Moreno in a 3-0 hole. The Urbandale, Iowa, native was able to pick up a late takedown in the second period to cut Collica’s lead to 3-2 heading into the final period. Moreno was unable to get out from the bottom in third, as Collica rode out the clock to seal the 4-2 victory.
“Gabe knew it was do or die today,” Jackson said. “He knew that he needed to win at least one match today to qualify. We spent a lot of time the past few weeks on our baseline posistions and defending the leg attacks. It’s a huge credit he stayed locked in and was willing to listen. I’m really happy for him.”
Moreno’s performance at the conference meet today was strong enough to secure a bid to the NCAA Championships however. His win over No. 14 Collin Johnston of West Virginia in the opening round punched his nationals ticket, as three automatic qualifier bids were up for grabs at 141 pounds today. With the loss, Moreno moves to 16-19 on the season.
The Cyclones return to the mat March 20-22 to compete at the 2014 NCAA Championships in Oklahoma City, Okla. at Chesapeake Energy Arena, the home of the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder.
Iowa State Results
141: No. 17 Anthony Collica (OSU) dec. Gabe Moreno (ISU), 4-2.
165: No. 5 Tyler Caldwell (OSU) mdec. No. 9 Michael Moreno (ISU), 12-1.
184: Lelund Weatherspoon (ISU) dec. Nolan Boyd (OSU), 4-3.
197: No. 1 Kyven Gadson (ISU) dec. No. 7 Travis Rutt (OU), 4-3 (TB-2).
Final Team Scores
1. Oklahoma State – 98.5
2. Oklahoma – 63.5
3. Iowa State – 45.5
4. West Virginia – 26