Three Big Takeaways: Cyclone wrestlers finish top-8 at NCAA Championships

David Carr faces North Dakota State’s Jared Franek at the Big 12 Wrestling Championship on March 6 in Tulsa, OK. Carr defeated Franek 8-2 to win his third Big 12 title. (Brett Rojo/Big 12 Conference)

Christian Royston

The Iowa State wrestling team entered the final day of the NCAA Championships with three All-Americans looking to finish out strong and battle through the consolation bracket.

Two of the three remaining wrestlers had shots at third-place finishes if they could stay perfect throughout the day. The weight classes were loaded with plenty of strong wrestlers, and it would be anything but a cakewalk.

Penn State came into the day as clear front runners, locking up the team title midway through the first session, with Michigan closely behind them. Iowa State was sitting around the middle of the pack entering day three. Strong performances from the remaining wrestlers moved Iowa State up as they finished with 37 points.

Carr’s consolation crusade

David Carr entered the tournament as the defending national champion, ranked first in the nation in the 157-pound weight class. Despite his dominance throughout the season, it wouldn’t be fast before he reached unfamiliar ground in the NCAA Championships.

Day one proved to be a day of upsets, as Carr faced one of the tournament’s biggest upsets by falling to Oregon State’s Hunter Willits in the second round.

Carr would have to be flawless as he traversed the NCAA tournament’s consolation bracket for the first time in his collegiate career.

The second day proved tough for Carr as he fought through each of his matches to stay alive in the tournament. As the sun rose on a new day, Carr started the morning off with a bronze medal in sight.

Carr kicked off the day for the Cyclones in the 157-pound consolation semifinals. Carr’s opponent would be No. 8 Will Lewan from Michigan, who took down Oregon State’s Willits in the quarterfinals, the first wrestler to hand Carr a defeat in over two years.

Carr started the match in control by powering through Lewan to get a takedown late in the first period. Lewan slipped away with time running out in the first period, but Carr answered back with an escape of his own to start the second.

A scoreless end to the second period saw the match enter the final two minutes with Carr narrowly ahead 3-1. Carr started the period on top, building up his riding time early. Lewan slipped free early, but Carr was relentless, securing another takedown and putting the match away.

After the riding time point was awarded, Carr pulled out a 6-3 decision win against Lewan to move onto the third-place match against Nebraska’s Peyton Robb.

The first period of the third-place match was very quiet, but Carr was the one to break the silence. Carr was able to get a shot onto Robb and finish it out on the edge of the mat to secure the 2-0 lead going into the second period.

Carr continued to work on top for a majority of the second period, but  Robb slipped away to narrow Carr’s lead to 2-1 going into the final period. Carr began to run away with the match in the final period by starting with a reversal.

The reversal by Carr also led to a two-point nearfall to put the match away with a little over a minute left. Carr took the win by 7-2 decision after riding time was awarded to end his season with a third-place finish at the NCAA Championships.

Carr demonstrated incredible grit as he battled through the tough consolation matches to rattle off six straight wins to secure his finish as an All-American. The win in the third-place match also helps the Cyclones tack on more points in the team standings.

Coleman closes strong

The 184-pound weight class proved to be a tough field to battle through in the tournament. Marcus Coleman entered the tournament as the No. 8 seed but was sent to the consolation bracket early.

Coleman fought hard to secure his classification as an All-American after a successful second day of the tournament. With his only losses coming to top-10 ranked opponents in Ohio State’s Kaleb Romero and Zach Braunagel from Illinois, Coleman was looking to finish his tournament with a win in the seventh-place match.

Coleman came out firing on all cylinders by securing a takedown on Cornell’s Jonathan Loew with just over a minute left in the first period. Loew wouldn’t let Coleman stay on top long, as he escaped quickly. 

The rest of the match would play out similarly to the first period, as Coleman started the second on top. Loew escaped with a minute left, but Coleman pulled him back to score a takedown and increase his lead going into the final period.

Coleman had been in control of the match for the first five minutes and looked to finish the final two minutes the same way. An early escape led to a takedown with just 30 seconds left to give Coleman the 8-3 decision victory.

Coleman’s hard-fought three days of tournament matches ended with a seventh-place finish as an All-American.

Bastida battles back

Yonger Bastida came into the NCAA tournament as an underdog, seeded at No. 10 in the 197-pound weight class. Bastida wrestled hard for the first two days to come out as an All-American, with a shot at third-place in the stacked weight class.

Bastida started his morning facing off against No. 2 Stephen Buchanan from Wyoming in the 197-pound weight class. Bastida was a casualty of Buchanan’s warpath through the Big 12 Championships, so revenge was in his eyes in the consolation semifinals.

Bastida started hot with a takedown in the first. However, Buchanan answered back with an escape and a takedown of his own to enter the second period up 3-2. Bastida started the second period on top but couldn’t hang on for long as Buchanan escaped again to maintain his lead going into the third. 

Bastida fought hard in the final period but couldn’t get any shots to land. Both wrestlers did well fending each other off, but it was too little too late for Bastida, as he fell to Buchanan by a 4-3 decision. 

The All-American’s tournament didn’t end there, as he had a chance to finish in fifth-place by taking down Ohio State’s Gavin Hoffman.

Bastida shot first against Hoffman with a late takedown in the first period. That would be the only points scored in the match, as Bastida decided to close it out quickly. 

Bastida rolled Hoffman onto his back and, with a final effort, secured the pin to finish his season with a fifth-place finish. In just his second year as a folkstyle wrestler, Bastida secured a top-five finish at the NCAA Tournament, and his backflip celebration after the match showed how excited he was to be on the big stage.

After the dust settled, Penn State might have emerged in the tournament, but Iowa State battled back from plenty of upset losses to put points on the board and move up the team standings.

The Cyclones ended with 37 points, which places them in the top-20 team in the nation.