IOWA CITY, Ia. — Two of the Big Ten’s biggest heavyweight programs ganged up Saturday morning to bloody another.
Top-ranked Penn State and No. 4 Iowa surged to the top of the team standings at the Big Ten Championships while defending national champion Ohio State stumbled after absorbing a series of punches from the Hawkeyes and one crushing blow from the Nittany Lions.
Iowa swept all five head-to-head quarterfinal matches against the Buckeyes and Penn State’s Jimmy Gulibon wiped out top-seeded Ohio State freshman Micah Jordan 3-2 in a tiebreaker at 141 pounds.
The Gulibon upset win pushed the Nittany Lions to the front of the pack with 74 points after the opening session inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa was second with 68, five more than third-place Nebraska. The Buckeyes were a distant fourth with 43.5 points.
Seven Hawkeyes secured spots in Saturday night’s semifinal round and also secured automatic qualifying tickets to the NCAA Championships. Cory Clark (133), Brandon Sorensen (149), Edwin Cooper (157), Sam Brooks (184) and Nathan Burak (197) bounced Ohio State opponents into the consolation bracket. Thomas Gilman (125) and Alex Meyer (174) also rolled through the quarterfinal round.
“We’ve got to keep getting bonus points and getting tougher as the tournament goes on,” said Iowa coach Tom Brands, whose team also has Brody Grothus (141), Patrick Rhoads (165) and heavyweight Sam Stoll in the consolation bracket.
Penn State matched Iowa’s seven semifinalists, but a bonus-point edge pushed the Nittany Lions in front. Penn State scored 15.5 bonus points in the opening session to 10 for the Hawkeyes.
The top two seeds advanced at every weight except 141, where the bracket got jumbled by Gulibon’s upset of Jordan and Purdue junior Danny Sabatello’s win over No. 2 seed Tommy Thorn of Minnesota.
No other wrestlers seeded lower than sixth reached the semifinals.
Defending Big Ten and NCAA champion Isaiah Martinez had perhaps the most eventful four minutes of the afternoon session.
The Illinois sophomore scored 14 points in lightning-quick fashion and appeared on his way to first-period technical fall against Wisconsin’s T.J. Ruschell. An instant later, Martinez was on his back and in danger of getting bounced into the consolations.
Ruschell used a lateral drop to put Martinez on his back. The second-seeded 157-pounder bridged out of trouble. After Ruschell scored six points on the move, Martinez proceeded to rack up 10 more of his own for a 24-8 technical fall.
“It was kind of my fault why I got put on my back,” Martinez said. “I was in on a snatch single and instead of blowing through him I tried to cut him back and fall on him and that’s where he kind of slung me over the top of him. After it was all said and done, I was thinking about improving and not doing that again.”