Thomas Gilman, Mike Evans differ in semifinal defeats
ST. LOUIS – Iowa's still got six wrestlers alive at the NCAA Wrestling Championships.
But five of them will be back on the mats at 10 a.m. Saturday in the consolation bracket.
Thomas Gilman and Mike Evans were knocked out of the championship round in wildly different ways Friday night at the Scottrade Center — Gilman by a quick-strike pin and Evans by a grinding 1-0 loss.
Evans has 30 wins and three losses this season at 174 pounds, all to Penn State's Matt Brown. He didn't score a point in any of those matches — 2-0, 2-0 and 1-0 — which resulted in a strategy change Friday night.
Entering the third period down 1-0, Evans began in the neutral position. The previous two times against Brown, he was ridden out for entire two-minute periods.
"He looked at me and he said he wanted it to be my call," said Iowa coach Tom Brands, who was in Evans' corner matside, "and I told him, 'I want it to be your call.' That's a situation where if you go down, you've got to come out. It didn't work out the last two times. That doesn't mean we can't escape from him. But we hadn't proved it to this point."
Choosing neutral gave Evans two minutes to score a go-ahead takedown. Brown fought off his attacks.
"The right decision will never be known," Brands said. "We lost the match. We gave ourselves some opportunities. We snagged that ankle. And that's as close as we've come to taken him down."
Evans has a tall order in Saturday's first bout. He'll meet top-seeded Robert Kokesh of Nebraska. If he loses that, he'll wrestle for fifth place. Evans' highest finish at the NCAAs is sixth (twice).
Earlier Friday, he got to the semifinals by beating Logan Storley of Minnesota 2-1 in overtime, in their seventh career meeting. It's possible the two could meet again Saturday.
"We both hate each other," Evans said earlier Friday. "He has good counter-offense, I have good counter-offense. He's good at exploding, so am I. So it's kind of touch and go. You have to pick and choose your battles a little bit."
Gilman, meanwhile, has his own tough consolation opener Saturday at 125 against Cornell's second-seeded Nahshon Garrett, who he beat at the National Duals. He, Evans, Brandon Sorensen (149), and Bobby Telford (heavyweight) are still alive for third place, and Nathan Burak (197) can get seventh.
Gilman, after a dramatic quarterfinal win against third-seeded Joey Dance of Virginia Tech, was pinned by unseeded West Virginia freshman Zeke Moisey in 52 seconds. Gilman was sluggish from the start, giving up an early takedown, then another that set up the fall.
"You've got to be ready for what they brought," Brands said. "That first takedown, that really raises your awareness. ... High-level competitors feel that coming, and then you have opportunities yourself."