2010 NCAA Championships: A Look Back
AMES, Iowa – The Iowa State wrestling team bid farewell to an outstanding senior class March 18-20 with a great performance at the NCAA Championships in the Qwest Center in Omaha, Neb. The Cyclones grabbed third-place team honors for the second-straight season. The fourth-straight NCAA placement (2007, second; 2008, fifth; 2009, third) in the top-five is an Iowa State best since accomplishing the feat five times between 1985-89.
ISU was paced by three All-Americans, all of whom made the finals at their respective weights. Seniors Jake Varner (197) and David Zabriskie (HWT) were NCAA champions, with redshirt freshman Andrew Long (125) taking runner-up honors.
The Cyclones qualified a full group of 10 wrestlers for the event for the fourth-consecutive season.
125 pounds – No. 5 Andrew Long – Second place
Redshirt freshman Andrew Long had shown the Cyclone coaching staff all season that he was going to be a special contributor. Still, many could not believe the ISU 125-pounder had battled his way to the NCAA Finals. Long avenged an earlier loss in the season to Arizona State’s Anthony Robles in the quarterfinals of the event, winning by decision, 5-3.
The next match would be Long’s toughest obstacle to that date. The Cyclone fifth-seed found himself matched against the top-seeded, undefeated and returning NCAA champion, Angel Escobedo of Indiana. Long surrendered the first takedown in the match, but it would prove to be the Hoosier’s only offensive points. The Iowa Stater held a slim 5-4 advantage late in the third period and added a final, decisive takedown to eliminate his weight’s No. 1 seed, 7-4.
In the championship finals at 125 pounds, Long’s opponent was all too familiar to him. As luck would have it, Iowa State’s lightweight standout would need to go through his nemesis from throughout his initial ISU season. Long was 0-3 entering the 125-pound finals match against Iowa’s Matt McDonough. Unfortunately, Long’s greatest defensive effort against Hawkeye wrestler all season couldn’t turn the tide in the match, with the Cyclone taking runner-up honors after dropping a 3-1 decision.
Long (27-7) is the Cyclones’ first freshman NCAA finalist since Varner accomplished the feat at 184 pounds in 2007. Long went 4-1 in his first NCAA event.
133 pounds – No. 10 Nick Fanthorpe
Iowa State senior Nick Fanthorpe needed two more wins following the Big 12 Championship to acquire his place in ISU wrestling lore. Fanthorpe, a 2008 All-American, entered his fourth and final NCAA Championships with 98 career wins.
The 10th-seeded Fanthorpe began with a major decision victory over Brown’s Cortlandt Choate, 14-3, and followed by upsetting No. 7 Mike Grey of Cornell by a score of 5-2. With the two victories, Fanthorpe moved to 100-30 in his Cyclone career, to become the 35th member of ISU’s “100-Win Club”.
The ISU 133-pounder fell in quarterfinal action to second-seeded Daniel Dennis of Iowa, 4-3. Fanthorpe’s last grasp at a second All-America honor was snuffed out in overtime against Maryland’s Steve Bell, 7-5 (SV).
Fanthorpe concludes his career as a two-time Big 12 Conference champion at 133 pounds.
141 pounds – Dalton Jensen
ISU wrestler Dalton Jensen didn’t foresee himself being a part of the starting lineup near at the beginning of his sophomore season. After all, he was the backup to two-time All-American Nick Gallick.
In the sport of wrestling, anything can happen. Jensen found himself in the starting lineup, and he found success. The Iowa Stater pinned three of his first four opponents in dual action with his aggressive style of wrestling. Jensen couldn’t muster any nearfall points in his first career NCAA bout, losing to fourth-seeded Reece Humphrey of Ohio State, 11-3.
In the consolation rounds, Jensen went 1-1 before being bounced from contention. The Missouri Valley, Iowa, native scored a stout decision of Nebraska’s Mike Koehnline by a score of 9-5, and was then edged by Cal Poly’s Filip Novachkov, 6-5.
Jensen finished his first season in the ISU lineup with a 14-15 overall record.
149 pounds – No. 7 Mitch Mueller
ISU 149-pounder Mitch Mueller put together the best season of his Cyclone career prior to his fourth trip to the NCAA Championships. Mueller entered the event with a 25-7 record, fresh off a runner-up performance at the Big 12 Championship.
The seventh-seeded Mueller scored bonus points in the initial round with a major decision of Liberty’s Frank Gayeski, 11-2. Mueller followed by doubling up Anthony D’Alie of Central Michigan, 8-4.
In quarterfinal action, Mueller was turned away by intrastate rival and second-seed Brent Metcalf of Iowa, losing 16-4. In wrestleback action, Mueller was downed by Lehigh’s Kevin LeValley in overtime, 7-6 (TB1). Mueller dropped from NCAA competition just one win shy of All-America honors for the second year in a row.
Mueller, hailing from Iowa City, Iowa, finished his final season with a 27-9 mark and a 93-47 overall career record.
157 pounds – Andrew Sorenson
Cyclone Andrew Sorenson entered his first NCAA tournament as a sophomore after being a pleasant surprise in ISU’s lineup at 157 pounds. Sorenson came in tied with Jake Varner for the team-lead in victories, with his 26-7 record.
Sorenson fell to the consolation bracket after a close call in the first round with Michigan State’s Anthony Jones. Sorenson led late in the bout before giving up a decisive move to lose, 8-4. The ISU wrestler couldn’t recover in the lower bracket, losing to Joseph Booth of Drexel by a score of 12-3.
Sorenson, out of Woden, Iowa, capped his season with a 26-9 overall record.
165 pounds – No. 4 Jon Reader
A two-time All-American entering the tournament, ISU’s Jon Reader came out on the wrong end of one of the event’s biggest upsets. The fourth-seeded Reader couldn’t hold off Old Dominion’s Chris Brown in first-round action at 165 pounds, losing 5-4 after leading throughout the majority of the match.
Reader bounced back in the consolation rounds to score three-straight victories, beating Navy’s Robby Neill (12-1), No. 10 Alex Meade of Oklahoma State (8-2) and No. 12 Paul Young of Indiana (13-11).
The Davison, Mich., native was denied a third All-America honor in as many tries with a tournament-ending loss to ninth-seeded Andy Rendos of Bucknell, 7-2.
Reader notched a 25-6 record in his junior season and takes an 85-23 career mark into his senior campaign.
174 pounds – Duke Burk
Iowa State’s Duke Burk scored team points for the Cyclone effort with a consolation round victory over Lehigh’s Robert Hamlin by a score of 7-3. Burk fell short in initial action against Illinois’ 10th-seeded Jordan Blanton, 4-3.
Burk never got into an offensive groove in the following consolation round, losing by a score of 11-3 to Missouri’s Dorian Henderson.
Burk, hailing from Peoria, Ill., concluded his second and final ISU season with a 18-15 record and went 37-24 for his career.
184 pounds – Jerome Ward
ISU’s Jerome Ward entered the NCAA Championships as an at-large selection in the 184-pound field, and almost scored the weight’s biggest upset. No. 1 Kirk Smith of Boise State got all he wanted and more from the Cyclone sophomore. However, Ward couldn’t best the Bronco in the end, losing by decision, 4-3.
Ward fell to the wrestleback rounds where he went 1-1. The Iowa Stater won by decision over Binghamton’s Nathan Schiedel, 3-1, and then dropped an 8-3 decision to Penn State’s Dave Erwin.
The Evergreen Park, Ill., native went 19-11 as a sophomore.
197 pounds – No. 1 Jake Varner – First place
Iowa State’s Jake Varner was the man to beat, and he still would not be denied. The returning NCAA champion at 197 pounds scored the repeat with a 5-2 victory over No. 2-seeded Craig Brester of Nebraksa in the tournament finals. Varner turned away Brester to take his first national crown last season.
Varner was the 13th four-time NCAA finalist in the event’s history, and the second Cyclone to accomplish the feat (Cael Sanderson, 1998-2002).
The two-time Big 12 champion won his first two matches of the tournament for bonus points with a 17-3 major decision of Boise State’s Matt Casperson and a 10-1 major decision over Riley Orozco of Cal-State Bakersfield.
Varner advanced through the 197-pound quarterfinals and semifinals with shutout performances against Sonny Yohn (4-0) and Cam Simaz (6-0).
The Bakersfield, Calf., finished his stellar ISU career with a 31-0 senior season to bring his career totals to 121-10, ranking 13th all-time. His career winning-percentage of .924 is fifth-best in Cyclone history.
Heavyweight – No. 1 David Zabriskie – First place
For the second year in a row, ISU’s David Zabriskie found himself as the No. 1 seed at heavyweight in the NCAA Championships. This time, “Z” didn’t disappoint. The Cyclone senior reeled off five-straight victories that were all decided in regulation to take the title. The heavyweight known for his overtime heroics controlled his destiny throughout the tournament, and capped the event by prevailing against a familiar foe in Oklahoma State’s Jared Rosholt.
In the tournament finals, Zabriskie scored his second-straight win over OSU’s Rosholt, winning by decision, 3-2. A takedown in Zabriskie’s favor in the second period proved to be the match’s deciding factor.
Both of the Cyclone’s victories in the quarterfinals and semifinals were special. In quarterfinal action, Zabriskie bounced returning NCAA champion Mark Ellis from the championship bracket by a score of 4-1. Advancing to a rematch of a bout from last season’s semifinals, the Iowa Stater prevailed again, taking down Duke’s Konrad Dudziak, 6-5.
Zabriskie, hailing from Branchville, N.J., scored two early wins in the tournament by beating Wisconson’s Eric Bugenhagen (6-2) and Arizona State’s Erik Nye (4-2).
The Cyclone heavyweight finished his career with a 116-22 overall record, after finishing 26-2 as a senior. The win total (116) ties Zabriskie with past ISU greats Tim Krieger, Trent Paulson and Cody Sanderson.