Sunday marks the final day of dual meet competition of the Division I wrestling season. After thousands of dual meets, there are only two unbeaten teams left in Division I wrestling — Missouri and Iowa.
The top-ranked Hawkeyes (17-0) and second-ranked Tigers (23-0) will face off in Sunday morning’s championship final at the EAS Sports Nutrition/NWCA National Duals presented by Hibiclens and the United States Marine Corps in honor of Cliff Keen at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.
Iowa trounced Chattanooga 44-3 in the quarterfinals before moving past No. 5 Cornell 24-8 in the semifinals. Missouri defeated No. 12 Illinois 23-13 in the quarterfinals before getting past upstart Lehigh 23-9. The finals will kick off at 11:30 a.m. Central on Sunday. Cornell and Lehigh will meet for third place.
Iowa opened up with a win at 125 pounds by fourth-ranked Thomas Gilman over second-ranked Nahshon Garrett. Gilman, who was upset in the previous round by Chattanooga’s Sean Boyle, scored a takedown in the final 15 seconds to go ahead 3-1. Garrett nearly reversed Gilman in the closing seconds, but Gilman maintained control and gave the Hawkeyes a 3-0 lead.
“I think Nahshon Garrett is very explosive and he will get underneath you in a hurry and you have to wrestle him patiently. We did a good job of staying heavy on him when there was action. It wasn’t like we were walking into things. That’s where (Garrett’s) dangerous,” said Iowa coach Tom Brands.
All-American Cory Clark earned a 6-2 victory at 133 pounds over Cornell’s Mark Grey. Clark fell behind early in the second period after Grey notched his only takedown of the match. Clark escaped to tie the bout at two, but Clark went ahead with a takedown of his own with 32 seconds left in the second. He’d tack on a point for stalling and a riding time point.
Josh Dziewa made it three in a row for Iowa after he dispatched with scrappy Cornell reserve Dylan Realbuto 5-3.
In a battle of wrestlers ranked in the top six, second-ranked Brandon Sorensen of Iowa scored a second-period takedown and tacked on an escape and a stall point to defeat sixth-ranked Chris Villalonga 4-1.
In one of the longest bouts of the day due to injury timeouts and blood time, All-American Brian Realbuto defeated Iowa’s Mike Kelly 10-7 at 157 pounds. Realbuto picked up 3:36 and scored four nice takedowns en route to the win.
Cornell’s Dylan Palacio scored a pair of takedowns to top Nick Moore 5-4 at 165 pounds. The dual then got a little festive at 174 pounds where Iowa’s Mike Evans topped Cornell’s Duke Pickett 3-0. A questionable shove and no-call led to some spirited discussion between the two opposing coaching staffs. Cornell was eventually docked a team point for unsportsmanlike conduct later in the match.
All-American and top-ranked Gabe Dean of Cornell won a big 184-pound match over Iowa’s Sam Brooks 6-2. Nathan Burak’s win at 197 pounds iced the dual for the Hawkeyes. The Colorado native topped Cornell’s Jace Bennett 3-2 to give Iowa an 18-8 lead with only one weight to go.
In the other semifinal, Missouri won four of the first five matches to set the pace and cruised to a 23-9 victory over over Lehigh. Alan Waters stayed unbeaten on the year at 125 pounds after opening up the dual with a 6-3 win over Lehigh’s Scotty Parker.
Mason Beckman tied the dual for Lehigh after a 9-4 decision at 133 pounds over Zach Synon. Back-to-back major decisions from Lavion Mayes and Drake Houdashelt extended the Tigers’ lead to 11-3 before Lehigh’s Mitch Minotti would score a 2-0 win over Joey LaVallee at 157 pounds.
Missouri would close with four of the last five victories, but the biggest individual match in the upper-weights was Nathaniel Brown’s 7-3 victory over Missouri’s Willie Miklus.
Sunday’s final will see all 20 projected starters ranked in the Top 33 of the NCAA Division I Coaches Panel Rankings.
“I think it’s awesome. I think the sport needs this,” said Smith after the Tigers’ win over Lehigh. “We had to do our part in it to get here, and I know we did and Iowa did their part and they had some battles too. With it being on the Big Ten Network, it’s going to be out there, people are going to watch this dual. It’s going to be one of the highest-rated dual meets in a long time just because of the build up. There’s probably about close to 40 dual meet wins between the two teams, so it’s pretty exciting.”
#1 IOWA 24, #5 CORNELL 8
125 – Thomas Gilman (Iowa) over Nahshon Garrett (Cornell) Dec 3-1
133 – Cory Clark (Iowa) over Mark Grey (Cornell) Dec 6-2
141 – Josh Dziewa (Iowa) over Dylan Realbuto (Cornell) Dec 5-3
149 – Brandon Sorensen (Iowa) over Christopher Villalonga (Cornell) Dec 4-1
157 – Brian Realbuto (Cornell) over Mike Kelly (Iowa) Dec 10-7
165 – Dylan Palacio (Cornell) over Nick Moore (Iowa) Dec 5-4
174 – Michael Evans (Iowa) over George Pickett (Cornell) Dec 3-0
184 – Gabriel Dean (Cornell) over Sam Brooks (Iowa) Dec 6-2
197 – Nathan Burak (Iowa) over Jace Bennett (Cornell) Dec 3-2
285 – Bobby Telford (Iowa) by forfeit.
#2 MISSOURI 23, #11 LEHIGH 9
125 – Alan Waters (Missouri) over Scott Parker (Lehigh) Dec 6-3
133 – Mason Beckman (Lehigh) over Zach Synon (Missouri) Dec 9-4
141 – Lavion Mayes (Missouri) over Randy Cruz (Lehigh) Maj 11-3
149 – Drake Houdashelt (Missouri) over Drew Longo (Lehigh) Maj 10-2
157 – Mitchell Minotti (Lehigh) over Joseph LaVallee (Missouri) Dec 2-0
165 – Mike England (Missouri) over Marshall Peppelman (Lehigh) Dec 6-1
174 – John Eblen (Missouri) over Santiago Martinez (Lehigh) Dec 4-2
184 – Nathaniel Brown (Lehigh) over Willie Miklus (Missouri) Dec 7-3
197 – J`Den Cox (Missouri) over Elliot Riddick (Lehigh) Dec 4-0
285 – Devin Mellon (Missouri) over Douglas Vollaro (Lehigh) Dec 5-3