Cyclones send four to NCAA tournament


Photo: Rebekka Brown/Iowa State Daily

Oklahoma State fans boo the referee after a call that resulted in Dallas Bailey not recieving points for what was thought to be a takedown against Chris Spangler. Spangler went on to defeat Bailey but was defeated by Nebraska’s Jordan Burroughs in the next round.

Extra effort characterized Iowa State’s day at the Big 12 Championships at Hilton Colesium. Despite the trials and tribulations, the Cyclones qualified four wrestlers for the NCAA tournament.

The ‘pigtail’ matches to open the day featured a bevy of grapplers from the home team. Seven of Iowa State’s ten competitors battled in the opening round of competition.

Coach Kevin Jackson and his squad looked to be in fine shape, winning six of the seven bouts. Unfortunately, the winners of the pigtail matches drew the top seeds in their respective brackets.

The buzzsaw then took its toll on the Cyclones. Ben Cash at 133, Chris Drouin at 141, Max Mayfield at 149, Trent Weatherman at 157, Chris Spangler at 165, Cole Shafer at 184 and Kyle Simonson at heavyweight each lost their semifinal matches.

Spangler was forced to step into the fire following an injury to Andrew Sorenson. No. 7 Sorenson had been battling an elbow injury and was not healthy enough for competition.

Spangler impressed the Hilton crowd with an upset of Oklahoma State’s Dallas Bailey, with 7-4 in his opening match. Injuries plagued the backup as he faltered and was unable to qualify after what looked to be a promising afternoon.

For the Cyclones, Jon Reader and Jerome Ward maintained their dominance and arrived in the finals with a chance for conference gold.

Jon Reader is making the most of his senior year. Reader faced a familiar foe in Cowboy Mike Benefiel. In front of a standing ovation, the Cyclone senior celebrated his long-awaited Big 12 title via a 14-3 major decision.

Ward had an even higher mountain to climb, taking on unbeaten Clayton Foster. The Oklahoma State stud found himself in a dog fight with Ward until Foster’s superior conditioning overwhelmed his combatant. Foster took home first with a 9-5 victory.

Kyle Simonson and Cole Shafer will be joining their finalist teammates in Philadelphia. Simonson dispatched of Oklahoma State’s Blake Rosholt, which was all he needed to advance. As the bracket played out, Simonson would lose two matches but still held on to fourth place.

Cole Shafer provided a pleasant surprise for Cyclone fans. The redshirt freshman entered the meet with a losing record, but an upset pin over Mike Larson of Missouri catapulted Shafer into the fourth and final qualifying spot.

While Iowa State’s automatic qualifier numbers were less than anticipated, the team still has a chance to send wrestlers to the national tournament by virtue of wild card bids.

Oklahoma State left Ames with their second-straight Big 12 title. The Cowboys led the way with five individual champions, followed by Nebraska and Missouri with two apiece.