Cyclones swept on final day of NCAAs, finish 11th

Michael Moreno fights to get out from under Virginia Tech’s Peter Yates in the semifinals of the 165-pound wrestlebacks at the 2013 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines on Saturday, March 23, 2013. Moreno lost to Yates 12-2.

Jake Calhoun

DES MOINES — A bittersweet ending to an uplifting tournament played out as both a cure and a curse for ISU coach Kevin Jackson.

On Friday, March 22, 2013, three of Jackson’s Cyclones pushed their way through the wrestlebacks of the 2013 NCAA Championship to earn All-American honors after failing to place anybody in 2012.

After each going 4-0 through the wrestlebacks on Friday, both Moreno (165) and Gadson (197) lost their last two matches to finish sixth at their weights on Saturday, March 23, to end their inaugural stands at nationals.

“I didn’t end the tournament the way I wanted to,” Gadson said. “It’s something to build on, learning experiences and whatnot. I’ll take it all in and gather myself.”

Gadson wrestled with a heavy heart throughout the tournament almost two weeks after his father died from a year-long battle with cancer.

After the controversial ending in his loss to Oklahoma State No. 11-seeded Blake Rosholt, Jackson said Gadson seemed unfocused in his following matches, during which he posted a 4-2 record.

“It just looked like everything caught up to him a little bit; it just looked like he was in a cloud out there,” Jackson said of Gadson. “It didn’t look like he was himself.

“It’s unfortunate that at this time everything caught up with him. But we haven’t been in the situation at the NCAA tournament that we’ve been in throughout the year — his father passed away and this is his first competition since that. If that doesn’t drain on a young man or any person, I’d be surprised.”

Draped in his father’s ISU robe before his two matches Saturday, Gadson seldom took shots at his opponents’ legs after notching an early takedown of Pittsburgh’s Matt Wilps in the semifinals. Gadson lost that match 9-3 before losing to Minnesota’s Scott Schiller 6-2 to place sixth.

Moreno’s tournament ended with a winless disappointment one day after he had recorded two pins and a technical fall in three of his four victories through the wrestlebacks.

“It feels kind of crappy to get sixth,” Moreno said. “I’d rather get seventh than sixth … because [I’d have] won the last match. I’ve beaten the third-place kid [Oklahoma State’s Tyler Caldwell], and it’s disappointing.”

As one of three unseeded wrestlers who advanced to the semifinals in the wrestlebacks, Moreno fell to the fifth-place match after giving up back points galore in a 12-2 major decision loss to No. 3-seeded Peter Yates (Virginia Tech).

“Truth be told, I just wasn’t ready to step on the mat that first match,” Moreno said. “I kind of tweaked my knee a little bit and it was all downhill from there.”

A video review — that seemed to take 10 minutes to Moreno — stalled his fifth-place match against University of Illinois’ Conrad Polz, awarding him two back points that had previously been denied.

The lull in action changed the pace of the match, giving Moreno a chance to catch up with the seventh-seeded Polz.

“I heard the ref count [to] two, which if he counts two, it’s a reversal and you’d give me those back points,” Moreno said. “But we can’t leave it up to the ref — I shouldn’t have given up a takedown so quick. I don’t know what I was thinking.”

Iowa State placed 11th overall with 41.5 team points — a stark contrast from the past two years. Last season the Cyclones placed 35th overall without any All-Americans after placing 20th in 2011 with one All-American — 174-pound champion Jon Reader.

Matt Gibson was the third All-American to compete on Saturday, although his time on the mat was short-lived.

Since he lost Friday night after having already earned All-American honors, Gibson dropped to the seventh-place match at heavyweight. It was there that he fell prey to The Citadel’s Odie Delaney, another unseeded All-American, getting pinned in 2:44.

Gibson ends his career as a Cyclone with a 56-27 record in his three years of competition since transferring from Sienna College (California).

“I’m real happy with the way my career has come to a close,” Gibson said. “I think it’s a real blessing to be able to be on that podium.”

For Gadson, however, there is no satisfaction with ending his tumultuous season as an All-American.

“It means I’m a little bit shy of my goal of being a national champ,” Gadson said.