Brandon Sorensen registers biggest win in Iowa romp

Andy Hamilton

Iowa's Brandon Sorensen wrestles Northwestern's Jason Tsirtsis at 149 pounds on Friday. Sorensen won in overtime, 3-2. Iowa rolled Northwestern 38-3 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

IOWA CITY, Ia. – The rumble of the Carver-Hawkeye Arena crowd drowned out the thud that came Friday when Brandon Sorensen slammed the defending national champion to the mat one last time.

On a night when top-ranked Iowa gave its fans ample opportunity to express their approval, the headgear-ringing moment of a 38-3 whipping of Northwestern came in the closing seconds at 149 pounds.

Brandon Sorensen punctuated a 3-2 victory against No. 1 Jason Tsirtsis by riding the reigning NCAA champion out in the second tiebreaker as a crowd of 8,104 roared. Sorensen couldn't fully appreciate the sound as Tsirtsis lost for the first time in 41 matches.

"I've got bad hearing to begin with and got a headgear on top of it," the fourth-ranked Iowa freshman said after toppling yet another top opponent during his highlight-packed January.

Sorensen certainly wasn't the only Iowa wrestler who played a starring role Friday.

The Hawkeyes (10-0) won the first nine matches and scored bonus points in five. They held Northwestern without a takedown until the second-to-last match and scored 24 of their own.

They won two of the three bouts Iowa coach Tom Brands had underlined – 149, 165 and heavyweight – captured a pair of overtime wins and seized another in the closing seconds.

Nick Moore scored a takedown with 20 seconds left in overtime to beat sixth-ranked All-American Pierce Harger 4-2 at 165 and Nathan Burak finished a single-leg shot with 13 seconds left to clip Alex Polizzi 4-3 at 197.

Northwestern avoided a shutout when fifth-ranked Mike McMullan fought off a shot by Bobby Telford in the second overtime and scrambled for a takedown to win a 3-1 decision at heavyweight.

Iowa entered the dual as a heavy favorite and backed it up with technical falls from Thomas Gilman (125) and Michael Kelly (157) and a pin from Cory Clark (133). Yet the spotlight belonged to a wrestler who placed third on his own team at the opening tournament of the season.

Sorensen finished behind teammates Brody Grothus and Edwin Cooper in November at the Luther Open and spent the first half of the season trying to establish himself as the best option in Iowa's 149-pound jumble.

Then Cooper moved up to 157 pounds, Grothus sustained an ankle injury and Sorensen hasn't lifted his foot off the pedal since. The freshman knocked off Ohio State All-American Hunter Stieber earlier this month, handled returning NCAA finalist Josh Kindig of Oklahoma State a week later and took out Tsirtsis Friday.

"When you get an opportunity, you seize it and that's what he's done," Brands said. "Good for him and good for the weight class. That doesn't reflect anything on Brody Grothus. We've still got a guy there (who) has a couple different options."

The Hawkeyes also have a guy who just beat the defending national champion in the type of match that seemingly always tips in favor of Tsirtsis.

"I played into his game," Sorensen said. "That's not what I like to do. If I see him again, next time it can't go into overtime. It just can't."

Tsirtsis had been unbeaten in seven career overtime bouts thanks to his stingy defense and ability to escape. But he couldn't get away from Sorensen when it mattered most.

"(Tsirtsis has) become an expert at that, made a living at that," Brands said. "But we say it doesn't have to be that close, it doesn't have to go to the end like that. I know we can score takedowns. We've got good offense."