Illinois Edges Past ISU in Evanston

EVANSTON, Ill. -- Iowa State finished second, five and a half points behind Illinois at the Midlands Wrestling Championships Tuesday in Welsh Ryan Arena. The Cyclones left Evanston riding high after crowning two champions and five placewinners overall.

"I think we had a great tournament, perhaps the best we've ever had at Midlands," Iowa State head coach Bobby Douglas said. "We have a young team with a great attitude. When you consider where we started this season and where we are now I may have underestimated what we could accomplish as a team this season. Ultimately, it all comes down to what you do in March."

Illinois posted 107.5 points and Iowa State followed with 102. Penn State was third with 92 points, followed by Hofstra (87.5), Iowa (80.5), Central Michigan (79) and Northern Iowa (75). The second-place showing was ISU's fourth Midlands runner-up effort in the last six years.

Cyclone freshman Trent Paulson was named the tournament's outstanding wrestler. The Council Bluffs native used a counter move that nearly pinned top-seeded Dustin Manotti of Cornell. Paulson had Manotti on his back for the matches final 30 seconds, holding on for an 8-5 decision. The victory gives Paulson a 17-0 record this season.

"I came here and focused on my next match, never looking ahead," Paulson said. "In the final we got into a scramble. I countered his move, we bumped hips and then I got him in a near-pinned situation."

Iowa State's Zach Roberson, a senior and the second seed at 133 pounds, beat fourth-seeded Mark Jayne, 12-7, in their final. Roberson, now 15-0 on the year, decisioned Jayne 8-7 in an overtime match at the 2003 NCAA Championship.

"Last year I beat him in overtime, but tonight my shots were on and everything seemed to click," Roberson said. "The reason this match was important is that the Midlands is a grueling tournament like the NCAA meet."

Roberson, on a ballot of the competition's wrestlers, was voted the Art Kraft Champion of Champions, as best exemplifying the qualities of a champion.

ISU's fourth-seeded sophomore Nate Gallick led second-seeded Jason Mester of Central Michigan 3-1 in the second period of their 141-pound championship match. Gallick suffered an ankle injury that forced him to retire by injury default late in the second period. Gallick's Midland's performance improved his season mark to 13-4.

Cyclone Nick Passolano earned a third-place finish with a 6-4 win over Joe Mazzurco of Cornell. Passolano upped his season record to 8-2. At 184 pounds, Ohio State's Blake Kaplan beat Cyclone freshman Kurt Backes, 7-6, in their fifth-place match. Backes leaves the tournament with an 18-3 season mark.

In the 157-pound title match, Illinois' Alex Tirapelle decisioned ISU assistant coach Chris Bono who was wrestling for Sunkist Wrestling Club, 2-1, in sudden death overtime.

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