2009 NCAA Championships: A Look Back
AMES, Iowa – Along with three-straight Big 12 Conference wrestling championship finishes under third-year head coach Cael Sanderson, the Iowa State wrestling team has amassed three consecutive top-five finishes at the NCAA Championships. Paced by Cyclone Jake Varner’s 197-pound title, ISU took third place at the 2009 NCAA Championships March 19-21 at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo.
ISU took a complement of 10 wrestlers to the NCAA Championships for the third straight year. Together, the varsity Cyclones helped the team finish in the top-five for the 46th time in program history. ISU last placed third at the 1989 NCAA Championships in Oklahoma City, Okla. Iowa State has been team runners-up four times since then (1996, 2000, 2002 and 2007).
The first session of the NCAA Championships was a good one. Nine of ten Cyclones advanced in the championship bracket and ISU led the team race. Finishing off Thursday, Iowa State was tied with Iowa for the team-lead and had five wrestlers in the quarterfinals and five wrestling in consolation.
Friday morning saw three Cyclones move on to the semifinals in Jon Reader (165), Jake Varner (197) and David Zabriskie (HWT). ISU held onto third place heading into the final day.
With Varner patiently waiting his 197-pound final, Cyclone’s Nick Gallick (141), Reader, and Zabriskie took to work in the consolation bracket Friday evening. All three earned All-America honors to better ISU’s position in third place heading into the evening.
The Cyclone victory in the 197-pound final assured ISU a third-place team finish at the 2009 NCAA Championships. In total, the Cyclones added four All-Americans to its prestigious program history.
Iowa State’s 125-pounder Tyler Clark made his second appearance at the NCAA Championships and the ninth-seeded Cyclone advanced in the first round of NCAA Championships with a dominating major decision of Navy’s Prescott Garner, 19-5. Clark suffered a loss to No. 8-seed Rollie Peterkin of Penn in the following round by decision, 6-3. In the consolation round Friday morning, Clark was set back by Kent State’s Nick Bedelyon, 8-6. Clark posted a 1-2 record in the tournament.
Clark closed out his sophomore season with a 25-8 record and holds a 43-20 career mark.
ISU’s two-time Big 12 133-pound champion, Nick Fanthorpe took a seventh seed into his third NCAA Championships. Fanthorpe opened by scoring a technical fall over Cal-State Fullerton’s TJ Dillashaw, 19-4 (7:00). In one of the longest matches of the tournament, Fanthorpe fell to Penn State’s Jake Strayer by decision, 7-3 (TB3). Fanthorpe missed significant time during his junior season nursing injury and the lingering effects caught up to the Cyclone All-American. Falling to the consolation rounds after dropping the match to Strayer, Fanthorpe drew returning All-American Jimmy Kennedy of Illinois. Fanthorpe topped Kennedy as a sophomore 4-1 at the Midlands Championships, but could not keep with the Illini wrestler this time, dropping the match by a score of 6-0.
Fanthorpe finished his junior season with a 21-6 mark and stands at 82-23.
Nick Gallick, a junior 141-pounder, placed third for ISU. Gallick was a fifth-place 141-pound finisher at the 2008 tournament. The road to third appeared treacherous for the Tucson, Ariz. native but Gallick proved to be up to the task. On his way through the consolation bracket, Gallick knocked off No. 1 seed Kellen Russell of Michigan and second-seeded Zach Tanelli of Wisconson. The Gallick name is a familiar one for those who follow Cyclone wrestling. Nick Gallick, along with older brother and former ISU national champion Nate Gallick, have notched All-America honors five times.
Gallick went 35-5 in his junior season and takes a 90-28 overall record into his senior campaign.
ISU’s Mitch Mueller had his best NCAA Championships yet, but was stopped just one match short of All-America status in the 149-pound bracket. Mueller entered the tournament unseeded and opened by beating Boise State’s Jason Chamberlain, 5-2. Chamberlain edged Mueller at the NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals, 3-2 (TB2). Mueller was held short of advancing by No. 4 seed Lance Palmer of Ohio State by decision, 3-0. In the consolation rounds, Mueller decisioned Edinboro’s Torsten Gillespie 8-4. Mueller then went on to pin 12th-seeded Trevor Chinn of Lehigh in 0:44. Mueller’s run was finally stopped by Purdue’s Jake Patacsil, 9-2. The Iowa City native posted a 3-2 mark in his third NCAA qualification.
Mueller finished his third season as a Cyclone 24-9. The junior stands at 66-38 on his career.
Cyclone 157-pounder Cyler Sanderson was able to advance to the NCAA Championships quarterfinals, but was unable to achieve All-America honors. Sanderson was stopped by eventual champion Jordan Burroughs of Nebraska by major decision, 12-4. To advance to the quarterfinals, Sanderson pinned Northern Illinois’s Bryan Deutsch in 4:46 and edged Boise State’s Adam Hall by decision, 4-3. Sanderson was eliminated from action after a consolation loss to Bloomsburg’s Matt Moley by decision, 5-2.
Sanderson capped his junior record at 20-9. He takes a career mark of 82-26 into his senior season.
Jon Reader, a sophomore 165-pounder for Iowa State, notched All-America honors for the second time by placing fourth. Reader, a native of Davison, Mich., advanced to the championship bracket semifinals before being set back to the consolations by Edinboro’s Jarrod King in quadruple overtime. King stopped Reader short from finishing several deep shots throughout the match and edged the Cyclone on riding-time criteria, 6-6 (TB2). After advancing to the consolation final, Reader was stopped short by Iowa’s Ryan Morningstar. The fourth-place finish betters Reader’s seventh-place finish from a year ago.
Reader finished 30-8 in his sophomore season and holds a 60-17 career record.
Junior Iowa Stater Duke Burk scored himself an upset in his first round of 174-pound competition against Hofstra’s Alton Lucas. Burk edged the 12th-seeded Lucas by decision, 7-6. He was then knocked off-track by Missouri’s Raymond Jordan by major decision, 12-4. Burk didn’t let the loss phase him as he picked a victory in his next match against Lehigh’s Alex Caruso, 7-6. The Cyclone 174-pounder was unable to keep the momentum going into the next consolation round as he fell to Trevor Perry of Indiana, 12-4.
Burk went 19-9 in his first season as a Cyclone.
Redshirt freshman Jerome Ward qualified for the NCAA Championships in his first season as a Cyclone. Ward was denied the upset in the first round against fourth-seeded Kirk Smith of Boise State. Ward kept Smith’s offense to a minimum but dropped a decision to the Bronco, 3-1. The Evergreen Park, Ill. native bounced back with a consolation victory over Missouri’s Dorian Henderson, 6-1. Ward’s path through the wrestleback rounds was halted by Edinboro’s Christopher Honeycutt by decision, 3-2.
Ward finished his first season as a Cyclone starter with a 22-12 record.
Jake Varner, a junior, took the 197-pound NCAA title over Nebraska’s Craig Brester to record his third All-America accolade. Varner emerged the victor over the Husker, 2-1, after a defensively-oriented finale. The Bakersfield, Calif. native placed second at 184-pounds in his first two seasons as a Cyclone. Varner is the 12th ISU wrestler to be a three-time NCAA finalist.
Varner had to settle for runner-up honors at 197-pounds at the 2009 Big 12 Championships. He avenged the Big 12 loss to Nebraska’s Brester to take the NCAA title and improve to 3-1 against the Husker in his career. Varner wrestled to a 31-2 record in his third Cyclone season and stands at 90-10 in his career.
ISU’s “little” heavyweight proved to be one of the nation’s best once again. Iowa State’s David Zabriskie took fifth-place at the NCAA Championships to cap off a stellar junior campaign. As a sophomore, Zabriskie was turned away in the fifth-place match to take sixth-place honors. Zabriskie became known for his crunch-time heroics during his third season as a Cyclone and the NCAA Championships proved to be no different.
The course to fifth-place for Zabriskie included two last-second victories, a sudden victory win and an amazing comeback from being down 6-1 at the conclusion of the first period against West Virginia’s Dustin Rogers. Zabriskie went to work, racking up seven points and holding Rogers’ to just two one-point escapes. The comeback was completed when Zabriskie secured a final takedown with 10 seconds remaining in the match to win by decision, 9-8.
Zabriskie completed his junior season with a 34-4 record and holds a career mark of 91-20.