NCAA Wrestling: Iowa's Real Woods falls to Northern Colorado's Andrew Alirez in 141 final
TULSA, Okla. — Real Woods completed one lifelong dream by graduating with a Stanford degree. He transferred to the Iowa wrestling program to chase another, which is to win an NCAA wrestling title.
Woods' first attempt at completing his second dream came on Saturday night, but he ultimately fell short in a 6-4 loss to Northern Colorado's Andrew Alirez in the 141-pound final at the NCAA Wrestling Championships here at the BOK Center.
"Frustration," Woods said afterward. "Heartbreak. All the negative things."
After a scoreless first period, action erupted in the second. Alirez chose down and Woods forced Alirez into a stall call, then turned him for two nearfall and a 2-0 lead. Alirez scrambled out of Woods' hold, bringing them to their feet, then Alirez took Woods to his back for a reversal and four nearfall, giving him a 6-2 lead.
Woods escaped before the end of the second to make it 6-3, then escaped again in the third to come within 6-4, but couldn't create a scoring opportunity in the final minute. Alirez hand-fought his way to victory, becoming Northern Colorado's first NCAA champion since 1962 — and just the third in program history.
"I wanted it so bad that I put myself in an exposed position," Woods said. "It bit me in the butt. It is what it is."
"I'm always proud of myself," Woods continued. "I'm never disappointed in myself. Interestingly enough, even after this outcome, I'm not disappointed in myself. I'm simply angry. It hurts, but I'm very proud of myself and I'm ready to move forward. That's what life is about and that's what's beautiful about this sport."
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Woods was everything Iowa coach Tom Brands hoped he'd be and more after joining the program last summer. An All-American and two-time Pac-12 champion at Stanford, Woods stepped into the Hawkeye lineup and was dominant from the word go, winning a Big Ten title and taking a 20-0 record into Saturday night's finals.
Of Woods' 20 wins this season, 12 included bonus-point wins. That included three major decisions in his first four matches this week, where he outscored his opponents 40-7 en route to Saturday's title bout against Alirez, who proceeded to spoil what was otherwise a perfect first season an Iowa City.
"You can go right to dissecting things, or you can be healthy about it," Brands said afterward. "I think it's a conversation that's semi-private, and to dissect that match right now is silly — from where I'm coming from.
"We've got to come back strong. We will. We have character. I believe that."
Woods was one of six Hawkeye wrestlers who earned All-American honors this week, leading Iowa to 82.5 team points, good for a second-place finish overall. Penn State won the team title with 137.5 points and eight total All-Americans. Cornell finished third, with 76.5, ahead of fourth-place Ohio State (70.5).
"I said it last year — I'm an envious guy, I'm jealous," Brands continued, "and here we are again. But the other thing that has to be said, you have to give celebration status to the guys that earned it. We have six All-Americans. It's not sucking your thumb walking out of here."
Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at@codygoodwin.