Sammy Brooks gets retribution with Big Ten title
In January, T.J. Dudley defeated Iowa's Sammy Brooks easily. The Nebraska junior pinned Brooks in 2 minutes, 46 seconds.
Brooks not only cruised past Dudley, but the Iowa junior did so for a Big Ten title.
Brooks placed first at 184 pounds, as did teammate Cory Clark at 133 on the second day of the Big Ten Championships at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City.
"Dudley is a good wrestler," Brooks said. "He’s an athletic, dangerous guy. I had to be aware of that and know if I think I might have a takedown, I need to go in with that extra step and secure it."
Brooks claimed victory by a 6-4 decision over Dudley, while Clark won his match by a 2-1 decision over Illinois' Zane Richards.
Two weeks ago, Brooks reached another low point just as he did in January in the loss to Dudley — Brooks lost by a 7-3 decision to North Carolina State's Pete Renda on Feb. 22 in an upset in Carver, allowing Sunday's victory to serve as even more retribution for his last performance in front of the home crowd prior to this weekend.
"It’s not that I haven’t been doing the work physically, but it was time to check myself mentally," Brooks said about his Feb. 22 defeat. "As difficult as that was, it’s something you need to move forward from. It’s easier to move forward with success than it is failure, but you can’t just quit after a match like that."
Also going for Iowa Sunday, Brandon Sorensen (149) and Nathan Burak (197) both lost their title bouts to place second. Thomas Gilman (125) and Edwin Cooper Jr. (157) each wrestled in third-place matches, with Gilman notching third and Cooper fourth. Alex Meyer (174) finished fifth, Patrick Rhoads (165) won his seventh-place match, and Sam Stoll (285) forfeited due to injury to place eighth.
The raucous Carver crowd — filled with sizable pockets of black and gold — were brought to their feet when Clark completed his win and then again several other times throughout the day.
"It’s a unique feeling (hearing the crowd)," Clark said. "It’s almost like all the work that I’ve been putting in all year, you start to feel it pay off. It’s hard to explain that feeling, but you feel a sense of relief.
"This isn’t how I want to define my season. This is a sign of moving in the right direction. It’s easier to move forward with a Big Ten championship than a second, third, fourth, or whatever."
Like Clark, sights are now set on New York — where the NCAA Championships will take place March 17-19 at Madison Square Garden.
Gilman, Clark, Sorensen, Cooper, Meyer, Brooks and Burak all automatically qualified for the national tournament based on pre-conference meet bid allocations. Two others could advance as at-large bids in Rhoads and Stoll. The top six finishers received bids at 165 and the top seven received bids at 285.
Rhoads reflected on his final match in Carver, and the possibility of his final match ever as a Hawkeye.
"We'll leave it in the committee's hands," Rhoads said. "Definitely made a good case for myself. We’ll see what happens, I’ll stay ready. Keep battling, keep training.
"I thought about it last night. I was laying in bed and I was like ‘this is the last match you’re ever going to have in Carver. You just need to lay it all out there, put it all out there.' I know I haven’t had as much success as I wanted to have in my career, but to be able to give my family, my coaches, and my teammates a win is huge."
So Iowa adds two names to the Big Ten champions board.
Those are positives — and with a little revenge by Brooks along the way.
"We make progress every day," Iowa coach Tom Brands said. "That’s how you go forward in this sport or in life. I’ve said it all year. We like these guys, they’re good guys and they go about their business the right way. There’s going to be steps forward, but in a match where it’s one man against the other, it’s not always automatic. It’s good when you see it show up."
Reach Matt Cozzi at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @matt_cozzi.
Big Ten Championships
Consolations –Thomas Gilman (IOWA) pinned Elijah Oliver (Indiana) 3:43; Third place – Gilman maj. dec. Tim Lambert (Nebraska) 12-4.
First place – Cory Clark (IOWA) dec. Zane Richards (Illinois) 2-1.
First place – Zain Retherford (Penn State) dec. Brandon Sorensen (IOWA) 3-0.
Consolations – Edwin Cooper Jr. (IOWA) dec. Richie Lewis (Rutgers) 2-0; Third place – Brian Murphy (Michigan) dec. Cooper Jr. (IOWA) 2-1.
Seventh place – Patrick Rhoads (IOWA) dec. Geno Morelli (Penn State) 4-2.
Consolations – Nate Jackson (Indiana) dec. Alex Meyer (IOWA) 11-7; Fifth place – Meyer dec. Micah Barnes (Nebraska) 4-1.
First place – Sammy Brooks (IOWA) dec. TJ Dudley (Nebraska) 6-4.
First place – Morgan McIntosh (Penn State) dec. Nathan Burak (IOWA) 3-2.
Seventh place – Brock Horwath (Wisconsin) medical forfeit Sam Stoll (IOWA).