Iowa and Ohio State split the Big Ten title Sunday
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Iowa wrestling coach Tom Brands wrapped both hands around the Big Ten championship trophy Sunday and yanked one way while Ohio State's Tom Ryan held on and pulled the other.
After two days of trying to wrestle conference supremacy away from each other, only to wind up in the league's first tie in 83 years, the head coaches stood in the center of St. John Arena and tried settling matters with a playful tug-of-war.
Ultimately, Brands and Ryan came to an agreement: If they were stuck with a stalemate, they didn't mind the idea of being linked together again.
Brands and Ryan were teammates on Iowa's 1991 and 1992 national-title squads and lived for three years in the same apartment complex across the street from Carver-Hawkeye Arena. In the spring of 2006, they were both candidates for the Ohio State coaching vacancy before then-Iowa athletic director Bob Bowlsby swooped in and hired Brands from Virginia Tech and the Buckeyes pried Ryan away from Hofstra.
Now, they both push the buttons for two teams expected to challenge for the NCAA title in a couple of weeks.
"There's a lot of bonds there," Brands said. "There's a lot of overlap there and winning together as teammates."
There were no ties in terms of post-tournament jubilation, though.
Ohio State won both of the head-to-head championship clashes with the Hawkeyes, who dropped all four of their title bouts. The Buckeyes smiled for team photos after claiming their first conference crown in 64 years while Iowa's picture was filled with stoic faces.
The Hawkeyes held just one lead in their four championship bouts and that was momentary. Heavyweight Bobby Telford scored a second-period takedown against Mike McMullan, but the Northwestern senior slipped around his rival for two points with 13 seconds left in the frame and escaped in the third period to win a 4-3 decision.
It left a 120-120 knot at the top of the final team standings.
"There's a lot of ways to score points and it ends up 120-120," Brands said. "To me, that's crazy."
The Big Ten introduced team-tournament scoring in 1934. The conference doesn't have a team tiebreaking procedure and hadn't needed one until Sunday.
The Hawkeyes and Buckeyes exchanged the lead four times Sunday before Iowa evened the score when Sam Brooks picked up a medical forfeit victory for third place at 184 pounds against Penn State's Matt McCutcheon. It was Iowa's seventh straight consolation victory of the day.
Cory Clark (133) and Mike Evans (174) both matched Brooks with a pair of consolation victories to place third and Nathan Burak (197) finished fourth.
But neither the Hawkeyes nor the Buckeyes could capitalize on opportunities to win the title outright.
Wisconsin's Isaac Jordan topped his cousin, Ohio State freshman Bo Jordan, 3-2 for the title at 165. Penn State's Morgan McIntosh beat top-seeded Buckeye Kyle Snyder 4-1 at 197.
Ohio State, though, won the two that mattered most in the team race.
Freshman Nathan Tomasello scored a takedown on the edge of the mat with 11 seconds remaining and fended off a barrage of attacks by Thomas Gilman to beat the Iowa sophomore 3-2 in the finals at 125.
"I was taking a lot of shots, but I wasn't quite getting to him," Gilman said.
"Part of it was that and part of it was (because) he had his roller skates on a little bit too."
The Buckeyes took the lead when Logan Stieber, the Big Ten's wrestler of the year and tournament outstanding wrestler, made quick work of Iowa's Josh Dziewa, becoming the conference's 14th four-time champion with a 16-1 technical-fall victory in 3:07.
Northwestern's Jason Tsirtsis avenged a January loss by toppling Iowa's No. 1 seed Brandon Sorensen 2-1 at 149 on a riding-time point.
"It stings any time you share the hardware," Brands said. "We did enough to win a team championship and share it, but we didn't do enough to grab it and run with it."
When it all ended Sunday, Brands and Ryan stood side by side on the championship mat as photographers snapped pictures of both coaches holding the title trophy.
"That guy helped me a lot," Ryan said. "He was a tremendous competitor, a tremendous friend through my career at the University of Iowa. He was a great example. He was one of the reasons why I went to the University of Iowa. He's a guy who's been someone I've admired for a long time. It was interesting that a former buddy, former teammate and we share it."
Ohio State won its first share of the title in 64 years