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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, March 20, 2010

College wrestling: 3 from Iowa claim national titles


ERIC OLSON
AP Sports Writer

OMAHA, Neb. Iowa completed its dominating run through the NCAA championships with three of its five finalists winning national titles Saturday night.

Matt McDonough won at 125 pounds, Brent Metcalf at 149 and Jay Borschel at 174 before a partisan Iowa crowd of 16,000 at the Qwest Center.

Borschel was among five wrestlers to end with perfect seasons. The others were No. 1 seeds Jayson Ness of Minnesota at 133, J.P. O'Connor of Harvard at 157, Andrew Howe of Wisconsin at 165 and Jake Varner of Iowa State at 197.

Also winning titles were Cornell's top-seeded Kyle Dake at 141, Missouri's sixth-seeded Max Askren at 184 and top-seeded heavyweight David Zabriski of Iowa State.

Iowa, which clinched a third straight team title and 23rd overall during Friday's semifinals, finished with 134.5 points. Cornell had 90 points and Iowa State 75.

The Hawks crowned their most individual champions since 1998. Last year they advanced only one wrestler to the finals, Metcalf, and he lost.

"This is a better feeling for sure," coach Tom Brands said. "A part of you isn't satisfied because you hurt for your guys who didn't win. So I don't want to wear it on my sleeve too much, but I feel good."

Ness decisioned the Hawks' Daniel Dennis in the evening's most dramatic match, earning a 6-4 victory after scoring a takedown and near fall in the last 6 seconds.

Ness (31-0) was working from behind the entire match before the shocking turnaround. After raising his hand, Ness jumped off the mat and sprinted to his father, Jay, who picked him up over a front-row railing and embraced him.

"I knew he was sitting there. Usually after I win I don't show much emotion, but that was a very exciting win for me," Ness said. "That's why you wrestle all 7 minutes. Anything can happen."

Iowa's McDonough decisioned Iowa State's Andrew Long 3-1 for his fourth victory over him this season. It was the first time since 1980, and second time ever, that two freshmen met in a final.

McDonough (37-1) said it'll take more than one national title to satisfy him.

"I've got three more years," he said. "You can't end on one championship, or one match. It's what I've worked for all season. It's a relieving thing, but I'm already looking ahead and ready to keep training and bettering myself."

The second-seeded Borschel (36-0) won a meeting of unbeatens, 6-2 over Cornell's No. 1 Mack Lewnes, who surrendered his first takedown of the season.

"In most matches, to win you have to first score a takedown," Borschel said. "That's the game plan for me, to come out hard and strong, get that first takedown, and then go to work on top."

Metcalf won 3-2 in his much-anticipated match at 149 against Ohio State's Lance Palmer. The difference was Metcalf's 1:29 of riding time.

Metcalf (36-1) had won the 149 title in 2008 and was the national tournament's outstanding wrestler. Last year, he had a 69-match winning streak ended by North Carolina State's Darrion Caldwell in the finals. This season Metcalf won 31 in a row before losing a surprising 9-3 decision to Palmer on March 7.

"Maybe how I feel right now is relief," Metcalf said. "I put a lot on myself in the way of expectations, and to fulfill it is gratifying. And to fulfill it with our team... There's been something pretty special these last three years, what we've been able to put together."

Dake's 7-3 decision over Iowa's Montell Marion completed a 34-2 season. The freshman scored a takedown and near fall the second period to take control.

"If you watched the first 30 seconds, we were punching each other in the face. We didn't care. We were just wrestling," Dake said. "That's how they go, and I just matched it."

Cal Poly's Chase Pami dictated the early action against Harvard's O'Connor, scoring a first-period takedown. But O'Connor was up 3-2 at the end of the period and was well on his way to his school-record tying 35th win.

"It's always a battle and struggle. Your mind is a funny thing. You always have those negative thoughts, but this year I did a good job of keeping those thoughts out of my head," O'Connor said. "Having my coaches support me and how I worked, I felt no one could stop me. I finally won the internal battle in my mind."

Howe (36-0) scored an easy 9-3 decision over Penn State's sixth-seeded Dan Vallimont a year after losing in the finals.

"I wasn't going to let this one get away from me," Howe said. "I've been telling myself that for a whole year now. I've been thinking about that loss every single day for that entire year, and I didn't want to go another year thinking the same thing."

Varner (31-0), a four-time finalist, won his second straight title with his 3-2 win over Nebraska's Craig Brester in a finals rematch.

"I kind of feel relieved a little bit," Varner said. "It's kind of sad that was my last folkstyle match. But it means a lot to go undefeated like that."

Varner's teammate at heavyweight, Zabriskie, decisioned Oklahoma State's Jared Rosholt 3-2.