EVANSTON, Ill. – The University of Iowa wrestling team won three individual titles and scored a team total of 152 points to win the 53rd annual Midlands Championships on Wednesday night.
In the team point race, Iowa was followed by Nebraska (135), Rutgers (110), North Carolina State (95.5), and Rider (67).
Iowa crowned three champions — Thomas Gilman (125), Brandon Sorensen (149), and Nathan Burak (197).
No. 1 seeded Gilman took the 125 title for the second time in three years at the Midlands Championships. He collected first place in 2013 and took second in 2014. Gilman surpassed second seeded Ronnie Rios (Oregon St.), 5-1, to improve his Midlands record to 14-3 and advance his season record to 12-0.
“It’s a feather in your cap”, the Iowa junior said. “It’s not really about winning the Midlands, it’s how you win it and the way I won it was a little too close. I’ve got to get guys to start coming into me and keep scoring those bonus points”.
Sorensen, seeded first at 149, gathered his first Midlands Championship with a 3-1 overtime victory over #2 Jason Tsirtsis (Northwestern). At the end of regulation, the wrestlers were tied at one, but Sorensen delivered a takedown shortly into sudden victory to secure the title. The win improves the head-to-head record between the competitors to 2-2 and advances Sorensen’s season record to 13-0.
“It’s big, I’ve been here three times now, finally getting the Midlands title is really what I wanted”, Sorensen said. “Moving on still undefeated, let’s keep it that way”.
Burak defended his championship title at 197 after a 6-1 decision over No. 14 seed Derek White from Nebraska. This is the second consecutive year an Iowa wrestler has become a repeat champion (Mike Evans, 174-pounds).
“A big takeaway for me is just to score quick and stay on the guy”, Burak said reflecting on the tournament. “It feels pretty good (to win two years in a row), it’s definitely exciting and I’m gonna try to keep winning”.
The Hawkeyes also closed out the Midlands Championships with two third-place finishes, as first-seeded Alex Meyer (174) and fourth-seeded Sam Stoll (285) each won their consolation finals matches. Meyer tallies his second consecutive third place finish at the Midlands Championships with a medical forfeit from No. 2 seed Micah Barnes (Nebraska). Stoll recorded a 11-1 major decision over sixth-seeded Ross Larson (Oklahoma) to place for the first time in his career at the Midlands.
Sammy Brooks collected a fourth-place finish at 185 pounds. The junior was defeated by the No. 5 seed Hayden Zillmer (North Dakota State), in a 9-5 decision. This was the third meeting between Brooks and Zillmer, most recently during the Midlands quarterfinals where Brooks took the match 5-2 to advance to the semis.
Freshman Michael Kemerer, wrestling unattached, placed fifth in his Midlands debut after a medical forfeit by the fifth-seed, Bryant Clagon (Rider), in the finals. Kemerer went 6-2 at the tournament, four of his victories resulting in bonus points. So far this season, Kemerer holds a 20-2 overall record and tallied bonus points in 16 of those matches.
“We’ve got to do a better job of scoring takedowns”, UI head coach Tom Brands critiqued as he summarized the tournament. “We’ve got to score takedowns. Positive is that we had three in the finals and we went three for three, that’s important to me. Winning finals is important”.
Iowa returns to action on Friday, Jan. 8 at Illinois. Action is set to begin at 7 p.m. (CT) inside Huff Hall.
CHAMPIONSHIP RESULTS (# indicated tournament seed)
125 – #1 Thomas Gilman (IA) dec. #2 Ronnie Rios (Oregon St.), 5-1
149 – #1 Brandon Sorensen (IA) dec. #2 Jason Tsirtsis (Northwestern), 3-1 SV-1
197 – #1 Nathan Burak (IA) dec. #14 Derek White (Nebraska), 6-1
THIRD PLACE RESULTS
174 – #1 Alex Meyer (IA) medical forfeit #2 Micah Barnes (Nebraska)
184 – #5 Hayden Zillmer (North Dakota State) dec. #4 Sammy Brooks (IA), 9-5
285 – #4 Sam Stoll (IA) major dec. #6 Ross Larson (Oklahoma), 11-1
FIFTH PLACE RESULTS
149 – Michael Kemerer (IA-unat.) medical foreit #5 Bryant Clagon (Rider)