Iowa finishes fourth in national tournament

By Matt Levins For The Predicament
National Champion Cory Clark

National Champion Cory Clark

ST. LOUIS — Moving forward. That has been the theme Iowa head wrestling coach Tom Brands has drilled into his team all season.
Win or lose, hurt or healthy, move forward.
That is just what the Hawkeyes did on Saturday during the consolations of the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships at the Scottrade Center.
After a disastrous — by Iowa standards — Friday night in which they went 1-3 in the semifinals and saw two other wrestlers — Alex Meyer (174 pounds) and Cash Wilcke (197) — fall one win short of earning All-America status, the Hawkeyes responded by going 8-1 in the consolation semifinals and placement match, crowning five All-Americans, sending two underclassmen into the offseason on a positive note and sending senior Thomas Gilman out with a third-place finish and a pair of wins in his final performance for the Hawkeyes.
And the Hawkeyes moved up from fifth place to fourth place in the team race with 97 points. Penn State won the team race with 146 1/2 points and had five All-Americans.
Moving forward. That is exactly what Iowa did.
“I came here on a mission. The mission was to be a national champ. But you know what? Sometimes you get blown off course. You get dropped off somewhere else. You have to fight your way back,” said Gilman, who finished third at 125 pounds with a 5-2 win over Joey Dance of Virginia Tech and a 13-6 win over Nicholas Peccinnni of Oklahoma State. “I never aborted the mission. The mission just kind of changed a little bit. I just go out and do the same thing I’ve been doing my whole career — wrestle whoever they put out there. After this I’ll take some time and be emotional and refocus and it will set in that I’ll never be an NCAA champion. I’m sorry to my team and to my university.”
“in the sport of wrestling, there’s ups and downs. In life there’s ups and downs. But the world doesn’t stop just for you. You have to continue to move forward. I don’t know the last time I got pinned. It’s been a while. It stung. It stung deep. But it’s real good mentally to come back and get third place, get the best I could get. It helps mentally moving forward. It’s not where I wanted to be, but it’s where I ended up. Learn from my mistakes and keep moving forward.,” said junior Brandon Sorensen, who finished third at 149 after a 9-0 win over Solomon Chishko of Virginia and a 4-0 win over Micah Jordan of Ohio State.
“It feels good to go out and the best I could do after that loss was third and going out and getting it does something for my confidence. I can come back to this tournament in the future knowing I can win matches, no matter how tired I am and no matter what happens to me. It feels good,” said freshman Michael Kemerer, who took third at 157 after a 10-1 win over Nebraska’s Tyler Berger and a 7-1 win over Joseph Smith of Oklahoma State in sudden victory. “It’s crushing. A lot of guys come in here and talk about wanting All-American honors. I want to come in here, wrestle in the finals and win the thing. I really believe that. When that happens, it shocks you. But you have to go back and wrestle. It’s like our coaches talk about — you have to move forward no matter what. If I was 0-2, I would have had to move forward. If I win, I have move forward. After that happens that’s all you can think about is going forward.”
Senior Sammy Brooks, after 6-2 win over Myles Martin in the consolation semifinals at 184, was pinned in 2 minutes, 38 seconds by T.J. Dudley of Nebraska to finish fourth at 184.
With one of the most decorated senior classes in recent years graduating — Gilman was a three-time All-American, Clark was the 19th four-time All-American in program history, Alex Meyer (174) was an All-American last year and Sammy Brooks (184) was an All-American last year — the Hawkeyes will have five holes in their lineup to fill. They will look to Sorensen and Kemerer to provide leadership for a young team next season.
“I’ll be there. Kemerer will come back. We had a couple of guys here at the tournament that got beat out who have experience down here now. Leadership doesn’t have to be senior leadership. It can be freshman leadership. It can be any age. There’s leadership all over. Just keep doing the right things, moving the team along in the right direction. I think freshman leadership … Kemerer’s doing a good job with that. It’s going to suck with those guys leaving, but it happens every year,” Sorensen said.
“I’m going to miss those guys a lot. I learned a lot from those guys. Now we’ll be a young team next year, so I have to take the stuff that they’ve taught me and teach it to some of our younger guys,” Kemerer said. “We just have to get back to winning. It starts with our young guys right away and getting them with that right mentality and getting things turned around.
“It’s something they talk about all the time, which is just moving forward. Ultimately it’s about more than just us as individuals. It’s about Iowa and future we have and the tradition we have and that’s getting the best thing we can get. We’re not going to win the team title, but it’s just fighting for that next best thing.”