Iowa keeps pace in team race on Day 1

By Matt Levins For The Predicament
Sammy Brooks (Iowa) won by fall over Dakota Geer (Edinboro) (Fall 3:44)

Sammy Brooks (Iowa) won by fall over Dakota Geer (Edinboro) (Fall 3:44)

ST. LOUIS — Iowa freshman Cash Wilcke couldn’t wipe the smile off his face on Thursday morning.
Senior Topher Carton and freshmen Joey Gunther gutted out gritty wins in the consolations after falling in heartbreaking fashion earlier in the day.
It was one of those kind of days for the Hawkeyes on the opening day of the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships at the Scottrade Center.
And by the time the final whistle blew late Thursday night, Iowa found itself in fourth place in the team race with 24 1/2 points, just six points behind leader and defending champion Penn State, 1 1/2 points behind Big Ten champion Ohio State and one point in back of Oklahoma State.
All nine of Iowa’s wrestlers are still going, six in the quarterfinals on Friday morning after going 16-3 on the day.
Iowa has plenty of work left, but it put itself in position to contend for the 24th team title in program history.
“Day 2 is on the horizon. We’ve got a one-hour weigh-in (today) and we’ve got a lot of wrestling left to do. That’s my assessment," Iowa head coach Tom Brands said. "I think there’s a lot of big matches (Friday), not that any of them wouldn’t be a big matchup. But it’s going to be head-to-head with some teams that are in it for the team race. I can think if four right off the top of my head right now, so we’ve got to be ready to go.”
Six of the nine Hawkeyes went 2-0 on the day and will wrestle in the quarterfinals Friday morning. Top-ranked Thomas Gilman (125 pounds), fourth-ranked Cory Clark (133), fifth-ranked Brandon Sorensen (149), second-ranked Michael Kemerer (157), 11th-ranked Alex Meyer (174) and third-ranked Sammy Brooks (184) positioned themselves to chase national championships while piling up team points along the way. Gilman scored a pair of major decisions, Sorensen had a pin, Kemerer had a major and a technical fall and Brooks had a fall.
If the Hawkeyes are to stay in the team race, it might come down to a handful of crucial head-to-head matches with wrestlers from teams directly ahead of them or right behind them in the team standings.
Gilman, Sorensen, Kemerer and Meyer will have quarterfinal matches that will have a big impact on the team race. Gilman takes on eighth seed Nicholas Piccinnini of Oklahoma State, Sorensen faces fourth seed Micah Jordan of Ohio State, Kemerer takes on seventh seed Dylan Palacio of Cornell and Meyer faces third seed Bo Jordan of Ohio State.
“Our guys are advancing. We’ve still got some guys on the back side. Those guys are huge, too. Every point matters and it helps you coming back, just feeling better about yourself to come back strong," Sorensen said.“I have to wrestle. I have to move my hands, move my feet. Keep that pace high. Wrestle how I know how.”
“Just not thinking about necessarily where the tournament is. It’s a big stage," Kemerer said. "Just focus on my wrestling and what I do best. The competition is going to get tougher as the tournament goes on, so I have to keep getting tougher.”
“Im just taking it one match at a time," Brooks said. "This is the big daddy. Everybody’s in the zone. Everybody’s got their best wrestling. I just have to take it one match at a time, relax when I need to relax and come here ready to whip some tail and that’s what I need to do.”
“It’s easier when you’ve got nine guys coming. We need all the points we can get. We need all the bonus points we can get. It’s great for the individual to go out and win matches, but it’s also added incentive when you go out there and everybody’s pulling their weight. We’re right there. We’re going to keep scoring points.”
“We’ve got a lot of wrestling to go. We’ve got two days left. We’ve
Carton also has a key match in the second round of consolations. He will face Luke Pletcher of Ohio State at 141 pounds.
“Bonus points are big. Topher Carton getting bonus points in the consolation match, that’s big. (Joey) Gunther winning that match is big. Let’s go get ready to go.”
To keep pace with Penn State, Ohio State and Oklahoma State, Iowa will need to keep scoring bonus points, something they did in seven match on opening day.
“Bonus points are big. You’re seeing a lot of bonus points from the teams that are favored to win this thing. Bonus points are big. We need the bonus points and not just in the early round when maybe it’s expected or maybe you can get them,” Brands said. “When you can get them is when you get them, meaning get them any time, get them all the time. Wrestle to get that separation. When you get opportunities to put the clamps on a guy, put him away. I think Kemerer got some bonus points. He had a guy on his back. Put that guy away there, but good job getting the major. Just keep moving forward that way up and down the lineup.”