Iowa matmen advance four to B1G finals

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – After going a perfect 9-0 in the quarterfinals, the Iowa wrestling team advanced just four wrestlers to Sunday’s finals during action at the Big Ten Championships on Saturday at Assembly Hall.

The Hawkeyes led the team standings after the first session Saturday but ended up third heading into Sunday’s action. Iowa has 109 points and trails first-place Penn State (123) and second-place Minnesota (112.5). Ohio State (92) and Illinois (72.5) are fourth and fifth, respectively.

“I know we have four in the finals and some with work to do on the back of the bracket,” said Iowa coach Tom Brands. “We have to be ready to battle. There is a lot of wrestling left.”

Two-time defending Big Ten champion Matt McDonough will chase his third title at 125 pounds and will be joined in the finals by Tony Ramos (133), Mark Ballweg (149) and Mike Evans (174).

Top-seeded Derek St. John lost a one-point decision in his semifinal match at 157, while heavyweight Bobby Telford also lost a 1-0 decision to top-seeded Tony Nelson of Minnesota.

McDonough pinned Michigan State’s Sean Boyle to advance past the semifinals. The trip to the finals is McDonough’s fourth. He placed second as a freshman and won the title each of the last two seasons. He will meet third-seeded Jesse Delgado of Illinois in the title bout. Delgado is the only wrestler in collegiate history to beat McDonough twice.

Ramos will make his second straight trip to the conference finals following his 3-1 win over third-seeded Tyler Graff of Wisconsin. He will meet top-seeded Logan Stieber of Ohio State in the championship match for the second straight year. Ramos and Stieber did not meet this year in the Big Ten dual.

Nick Dardanes scored a major decision win over Ballweg just two weeks ago, but Ballweg bounced back Saturday with a 3-1 sudden victory win. The match was tied at 1 after three periods, but Ballweg won it with a late takedown in the extra period.

“I just had to stay with it,” said Ballweg. “I almost gave up a takedown at the end of regulation, but I stayed focused as they overturned it and came back with a takedown. He’s a great competitor so I came out ready. I was able to make an adjustment today and change the outcome.”

Ballweg will face Ohio State’s top-seeded Hunter Stieber in the finals.

Second-seeded Evans scored a 6-0 win over No. 6 Jordan Blanton in the 174-pound semifinals. He used a two-minute ride in the second period and a reversal to start the third period to grab control and then scored three nearfall points to finish Blanton off. Evans will next face No. 5 Matt Brown of Penn State in the championship match.

The Hawkeyes have five wrestlers competing on the back side of the bracket. Top-seeded St. John and Telford each dropped a pair of one-point decisions, and Nathan Burak (197) was topped in overtime to get bounced from the championship bracket. Nick Moore (165) and Ethen Lofthouse (184) also were sent to the consolation bracket following semifinal defeats.

The 2013 Big Ten Championships resume tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. Consolation semifinals kick off the competition inside Assembly Hall. Big Ten Network will televise the finals live beginning at 1:30 p.m.