NCAA wrestling championships: Session Two analysis on Iowa, Northern Iowa, Iowa State and #IowaTies

Cody Goodwin
The Des Moines Register

CLEVELAND, Ohio — The team race began to take shape and the craziness continued during Session Two of the NCAA Wrestling Championships here at Quicken Loans Arena. 

For those with ties to Iowa, it was mostly a rough round. The Hawkeyes struggled mightily after a strong opening session. Northern Iowa faltered, losing two of its six wrestlers that qualified. Others with Iowa ties produced mix results as well.

UNI's Taylor Lujan wrestles Virginia's Will Schany at 174 pounds at the NCAA Wrestling Championships at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio on Thursday, March 15, 2018. Lujan won by decision, 5-3.

Here’s how it all went down:


Second Round

125: No. 3 Spencer Lee over No. 14 Luke Welch (Purdue), 18-0 technical fall

Lee followed up his first-match technical fall with another in his second-round bout. Against Welch, Iowa's star true freshman locked up a takedown and three sets of back points for a 12-0 lead after the first period, then scored a takedown and four more backs in the second for an 18-0 win.

In his first two matches, Lee outscored his two opponents a combined 36-0. He will wrestle Oklahoma State's Nick Piccininni in Friday morning's quarterfinals.

141: No. 1 Bryce Meredith (Wyoming) over Vince Turk, 5-2

Turk won a pigtail and a first-round match on Thursday morning to get to the evening's second round. There, he ran into top-ranked Meredith, who scored an escape and a takedown in the second period. Turk countered with a takedown in the third, but Meredith added an escape and scored another point on a technical violation to win.

Turk falls to the wrestlebacks, where he'll face Purdue's Nate Limmex on Friday.

149: No. 15 Ronald Perry (Lock Haven) over No. 2 Brandon Sorensen, 3-2

Perry scored a takedown on the edge with 30 seconds left in the third period to knock off the second-seeded Sorensen, 3-2. Sorensen struggled to get to his offense in this one, and because of it, he will end his Iowa wrestling career without a national title.

The senior still has a shot at third, and will wrestle Rutgers' Eleazar Deluca in the wrestlebacks on Friday.

157: No. 6 Michael Kemerer over Paul Fox (Stanford) by fall, 4:52

Kemerer followed his first-round pin with another victory by fall to advance to the quarterfinals. Against Fox, Kemerer used a takedown and four backs to go up 6-1 after the first period, then scored on another six-point sequence in the second to go up 12-2.

Later in the second, Kemerer turned a tilt into a half-nelson pinning combination. He will wrestle Penn State's Jason Nolf, the defending NCAA champion, in Friday's quarterfinals.

165: No. 5 Alex Marinelli over No. 12 Nick Wanzek (Minnesota) by fall, 6:15

Marinelli also ended Thursday with two pins. His second, over Wanzek in the third period, came after he had already scored four takedowns. He methodically worked Wanzek over in a cow-catcher for a pin.

Marinelli will wrestle Rider's Chad Walsh, the four seed, in Friday's quarterfinal round.

184: No. 2 Myles Martin (Ohio State) over Mitch Bowman, 17-5 major

Martin showed why he is the two seed in this bracket, piling up six takedowns to roll a major decision. A six-point sequence in the second period really broke this match open. Bowman falls to the wrestlebacks, where he'll face Eastern Michigan's Kayne MacCallum on Friday.

197: No. 3 Jared Haught (Virginia Tech) over No. 14 Cash Wilcke, 5-3

Haught scored two first-period takedowns to send Wilcke to the wrestlebacks. He had opportunities to score, but struggled to get to Haught's legs. Wilcke will wrestle Cal Poly's Thomas Lane on Friday.

285: No. 12 Youssif Hemida (Maryland) over No. 5 Sam Stoll, 7-2

Stoll wasn't able to follow up his first-round pin with another. He led 2-1 in the third, then Hemida tossed him to his back for six points and the win. 

Stoll will head to the wrestlebacks, where he'll face Virginia Tech's Andrew Dunn on Friday.


174: Josef Johnson (Harvard) over Joey Gunther, 3-1

After trading escapes in the second and third periods, Johnson scored a takedown on the edge late in the third to win. Gunther is eliminated. He went 0-2.

Team Standing

Iowa went 9-1 during Session One, but produced a 3-6 mark in Session Two. Only three Hawkeye wrestlers remain on the front side — Lee, Kemerer and Marinelli. The other five still alive will have to come through the wrestlebacks

When the dust settled on Thursday, Iowa was in third place with 27 points — Ohio State is in first with 36 while Penn State is second with 28.5. A strong morning session gave the Hawkeyes the start they needed to contend for a trophy this week. They'll need to follow it up with consistency and more bonus points on Friday. 

Northern Iowa

Second Round

149: No. 8 Boo Lewallen (Oklahoma State) over No. 9 Max Thomsen, 10-6

Heck of a match here. Lewallen jumped out to a 4-0 lead after a takedown and two backs. Thomsen escaped and scored a takedown of his own, then Lewallen escaped to make it 5-3 after one. Lewallen added a takedown in the second, then Thomsen scored one in the third to come within 8-6, but Lewallen scored a reversal to win.

Thomsen went 1-1 on Thursday, and will face Binghamton's Frank Garcia in the wrestlebacks on Friday. 

174: No. 7 Taylor Lujan over No. 10 Ethan Ramos (North Carolina), 16-12

Arguably the match of the day here. Ramos scored three first-period takedowns and led 6-3 entering the second. Lujan answered with an escape, then a takedown to tie. Ramos responded with a reversal, then Lujan scored a reversal, making it 8-8 after two.

In the third, Ramos escaped to lead, then Lujan scored a takedown to lead 10-9. Ramos escaped to tie, then scored a late takedown to lead 12-10. Then Lujan reversed Ramos to his back for two plus four backs to emerge victorious. It was marvelous.

Lujan advances to the quarterfinals, where he'll face Penn State's Mark Hall, the defending NCAA champion. 

184: No. 9 Max Dean (Cornell) over No. 8 Drew Foster, 6-0

Dean was methodical and workmanlike in this one. He scored a takedown in the first and second periods, and added a riding-time point for good measure. His shot selection was excellent, and Foster simply had no answer.

As such, Foster falls to the wrestlebacks, where he'll wrestle 10th-seeded Emery Parker of Illinois on Friday.


125: Sergio Mendez (Cal State Bakersfield) over No. 16 Jay Schwarm by fall, 6:23

Another wild match here. Schwarm and Mendez traded takedowns and back points and reversals and escapes throughout the first and second periods. Mendez actually led 12-11 after two backs in the third, then used a half to pin Schwarm moments later.

Schwarm's tournament is done. He went 0-2.

141: No. 8 Nick Lee (Penn State) over No. 9 Josh Alber, 7-3

Lee piled up three takedowns — one in each period — to decisively defeat Alber. With the loss, Alber is eliminated. He went 0-2.

197: Jacob Holschlag over Randall Diabo (Appalachian State), 16-0 technical fall

Holschlag looked real good in this one. Scored a takedown and four backs in the first period, then added three more sets of four back points in the second for the technical fall. He remains alive in the consolations, and will wrestle North Carolina's Daniel Chaid on Friday. 

UNI head coach Doug Schwab watches Jacob Schwarm wrestle Michigan's Drew Mattin at 125 pounds at the NCAA Wrestling Championships at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio on Thursday, March 15, 2018. Schwarm was pinned in 3:50.

Team Standing

Only Lujan remains alive on the front side, and he has a tough road ahead of him in Hall. But Thomsen, Foster, and Holschlag are all still on the backside. It might be tough for the Panthers, currently in 25th with 7 points, to climb into that top-15 echelon without the big point potential of the front side, but a top-20 finish isn't out of the question just yet. Crazy things happen on Friday.

Iowa State

Second Round

149: No. 4 Troy Heilmann (North Carolina) over Jarrett Degen, 7-5

Degen was the lone unseeded wrestler to win a first-round match at 149 pounds. He couldn't replicate that magic against Heilmann, who scored a takedown in the first and added a reversal and takedown in the second for a 6-2 lead.

Degen fought valiantly to close within 7-5, and furiously attempted shots as the clock ticked down, but he couldn't complete the comeback. Degen falls to the wrestlebacks, where he'll face Minnesota's Steve Bleise on Friday.

Iowa State's Jarrett Degen wrestles Nebraska's Colton McCrystal at 149 pounds. at the NCAA Wrestling Championships at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio on Thursday, March 15, 2018. Degen won by decision, 9-5.


Second Round

165: No. 11 Isaiah White (Nebraska) over No. 6 Richie Lewis (Rutgers, former Iowa Central), 3-1 (SV1)

White downed Lewis thanks to a scramble-turned-takedown in sudden victory, sending Lewis to the wrestlebacks, where he'll face Northern Colorado's Keilan Torres on Friday.

174: No. 3 Daniel Lewis (Mizzou) over No. 14 Yoanse Mejias (Oklahoma, former NIACC), 8-0 major

Lewis is a title contender at 174 pounds this year, and Mejias learned firsthand why. Mejias falls to the consolation round, where he'll face Harvard's Josef Johnson on Friday.


141: Henry Pohlmeyer (SDSU, former Johnston) over Evan Cheek (Cleveland State), 3-2

Pohlmeyer gave up a first-period takedown, but forced Cheek into two stalling calls to trail just 2-1 in the third. The former Johnston standout then scored late to win, 3-2, and remains alive in the wrestlebacks. 

Pohlmeyer will wrestle N.C. State's Kevin Jack, who entered the tournament as the five seed, on Friday.

149: Eleazar Deluca (Rutgers) over Kyle Springer (EMU, former Assumption), 3-2

Deluca scored a quick first-period takedown, which ultimately proved to be the difference in this one. With the loss, Springer is eliminated. He went 0-2.

149: No. 13 Colton McCrystal (Nebraska, former Sergeant Bluff-Luton) over Tyshawn Williams (Southern Illinois Edwardsville), 5-2

McCrystal scored a first-period takedown, then sandwiched a Williams takedown with two escapes in the second period. This win helps him stay alive in the wrestlebacks. He will wrestle N.C. State's Beau Donahue, the 14 seed, on Friday.

Friday's Session Three begins at 10 a.m., central time.

Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.

2018 NCAA Wrestling Championships

Team Standings

1. Ohio State, 36
2. Penn State, 28.5
3. Iowa, 27
4. Michigan, 23
5. N.C. State, 20
6. Missouri, 19
7. Oklahoma State, 15
7. Cornell, 15
9. Lehigh, 14.5
9. Virginia Tech 14.5
25. Northern Iowa, 7
54. Iowa State, 1