Iowa's Michael Kelly nearly pulls career-defining upset

Chad Leistikow
Iowa’s Michael Kelly battles Minnesota’s Dylan Ness at 157 pounds. Kelly lost 11-9, after leading 8-5 in the third period.

MINNEAPOLIS – Michael Kelly's eyes read of disappointment, anger — and determination.

In a hallway beneath the main Williams Arena floor, Kelly lamented letting a chance to beat the nation's No. 1-ranked wrestler slip away. And it hurt.

"I got lost a little bit in my own match. You've got to put the nail in the coffin," Kelly said after Minnesota's Dylan Ness staged a third-period rally for an 11-9 win. "You've got to wrestle the same way the first period as you do the third period. There's not much else to really say."

Kelly, ranked ninth and now 17-4, was looking for a signature victory. This would've been it — he scored three takedowns and built a 8-5 lead with a minute to go in the final bout of what ended as a 23-12 Iowa dual win.

But Ness, who was "super sick" all week according to coach J Robinson, rallied with a four-point throw. Additional back points were wiped away after a video review that ruled Ness locked his hands. So it was 9-all, with Kelly in the down position with 25 seconds left.

On the sideline, Iowa coach Tom Brands told Kelly this could be a career-defining moment.

"He's a senior. We've got to slam that door there," Brands said. "We have (Ness) stopped and extended, and we let him up around the waist. The guy's pretty good around the waist with his hands locked."

Kelly couldn't get out, and Ness had riding time and a late penalty point.

"We're going to have to start making some hay there (at 157), and he knows it," Brands said.

Kelly said he'd welcome another crack at breaking Ness.

"Absolutely, and I will," Kelly said. "He's going to be at Big Tens. He's going to be at National Duals. He's going to be at nationals."