Cyclones struggle at NCAA Championships

Jake Calhoun

PHILADELPHIA — After sending the maximum 10 wrestlers to the NCAA Championships for four straight years as the only team to do so, Iowa State traveled to this year’s tournament with lighter luggage.

The Cyclones lost its three All-Americans from 2010 and qualified only five wrestlers for this year’s national tournament, which was at the Wells Fargo Center in Southern Philadelphia.

Penn State won its second Division I wrestling title and first since 1953 as it had three wrestlers — Frank Molinaro (149), David Taylor (157) and Quentin Wright (184) — in the finals, one of whom won.

“I’m really, really proud of these guys,” said PSU coach Cael Sanderson, who previously coached at Iowa State for three seasons. “It’s just a gutsy performance from some real tough kids. And that’s what it takes, it’s ups and downs.”

Cornell, which began the season ranked No. 1 in the nation, finished second with 93.5 points, while Iowa saw its three-season streak of winning the national title come to an end as it placed third with 86.5 points and failed to produce a single champion for the first time since 2006.

Senior Jon Reader, who was the No. 1 seed at 174 pounds, was crowned national champion at that weight and was also the only All-American for the Cyclones.

This was the first year Iowa State had had only one All-American since 1953 when Bob Wirds took third at 177 pounds, and was also the first time since 1948 when Iowa State had one All-American who won a national title when Glen Brand won it at 174 pounds. Both those years, the tournament was held in Bethlehem, Pa., and State College, Pa.

Here’s a look at how the other four Cyclones did in the tournament.

141 – Chris Drouin, RSr. (1-2)

The senior transfer from Arizona State was the only at-large bid for the Cyclones after failing to secure one of four automatic qualifying bids at the Big 12 Championships.

He was pinned in 2:20 in his first-round match against No. 9 Cole Von Ohlen of Air Force, dropping him to the consolation bracket.

After knocking out another former All-American, Chattanooga’s Cody Cleveland, in a 7-3 decision, Drouin lost to Lock Haven’s Matthew Bonson by a 17-0 technical fall at 4:43, ending the Temecula, Calif., native’s collegiate wrestling career.

184 – Cole Shafer, RFr. (0-2)

Shafer earned his first-ever trip to the NCAA tournament after securing the fourth and final automatic qualifying bid at the Big 12 Championships.

Despite staying neck and neck with his first-round opponent, Arizona State’s Jake Meredith, he failed to connect on his attacks and soon got ridden out to a 10-0 major decision loss.

Shafer then lost to Northern Illinois’ Brad Dieckhaus by an 11-2 major decision in the consolation bracket’s first round to eliminate him from the tournament Thursday night.

197 – Jerome Ward, RJr. (3-2)

Ward, the Cyclones’ only other seeded wrestler with a No. 11 seed, won his first-round match for the first time in three NCAA appearances with a 4-3 decision over Ohio’s Erik Schuth.

He then lost a close match to No. 6 Micah Burak of Penn, 2-1, to drop to the consolation bracket.

In his first match after the loss, Ward utilized a deceptive single-leg attack to defeat North Carolina’s Zac Bennett by a 14-5 major decision to advance. After advancing and earning his second victory of the year against Boston’s John Hall in the next round, Ward only needed to beat Iowa’s Luke Lofthouse for a second time this season to earn All-America status.

However, Ward fell in a 3-1 decision to Lofthouse, failing to execute an attack until the third period’s final minute, which went for naught as the clock expired to end the Evergreen Park, Ill., native’s junior season.

Hwt – Kyle Simonson, RJr. (2-2)

Simonson drew an unlucky first-round match against the heavier-set Blake Rasing of Iowa, who defeated him 2-0, in the Dec. 3 dual in Iowa City.

In the match, Simonson was beaten by No. 7 Rasing again by the same score to drop to the consolation bracket.

After a 3-0 victory over Ohio’s Jeremy Johnson in the first round of the consolation bracket, Simonson managed to pin Michigan State’s Joseph Rizqallah in 6:03 to advance.

Simonson’s season saw a quick end as he injury-defaulted his next match against Maryland’s Spencer Myers after re-aggravating a back injury he suffered earlier in the season.