Big 12 Wrestling: Session #1

Iowa State had hoped to erase memories of its performance in last season's Big 12 wrestling tournament, and that looked like a good possibility as it entered competition ranked second nationally by two services. But after Saturday's morning session, the Cyclones will be battling to avoid their second consecutive finish at the bottom of a five-team field.

As it turns out, much of ISU's work will need to be done in this afternoon's consolation session. Bobby Douglas' team got just two wrestlers through to championship matches, Zach Roberson at 133 pounds and Nate Gallick at 141, and saw two fail to make it out of preliminary matches.

A second seed at 25-2 this season, Roberson slipped by Nebraska's Matt Keller, 7-5, in semifinal round action. After being down throughout much of the match the Cyclone senior recorded a late escape and turned it into a takedown in the third period to clinch the victory.

Roberson draws Oklahoma State's top-seeded Johnny Thompson, who moved on with a 3-1 victory over Oklahoma's Mimi Miller, in tonight's 133-pound title match. Roberson lost his only meeting of the season with Thompson, 8-3. Although he was seeded first in the 141-pound field, Gallick faced Oklahoma State's Ronnie Delk who had all the momentum after scoring a preliminary round upset of J.P. Reese of Missouri. But Gallick was able to hold off Delk, 3-2, on the strength of a third-period escape.

Gallick moved on to the finale against Nebraska's Matt Murray, who scored a mild upset of two-seed Teyon Ware in overtime of the semifinals, 4-3. In ISU's Big 12 dual meet against the Huskers, Gallick upended Murray by a 6-2 decision.

The rest of the Cyclones' semifinalists were not so successful. Both Paulson twins, Trent and Travis, lost in their first run through the Big 12s.

Trent Paulson (149 pounds) had advanced through the preliminaries with a 5-1 triumph over Oklahoma's Jeff Ecklof, but lost handily to Oklahoma State's top-seeded Zack Esposito in the next round, 8-2. Esposito took control of the match with a three-point near fall late in the second period for a 5-1 edge, and would hold on.

Missouri's Kenny Burleson fought his way to a 3-1 decision over third-seeded Travis Paulson in a 157-pound semifinal. Paulson used an escape to jump on top early, but would fall victim in overtime when Burleson landed a takedown.

ISU had a good chance of getting 165-pounder Nick Passolano into the championship round. The junior faced off against Nebraska's Jacob Klein, who he had beaten last month in overtime, 7-5. However, Klein had the upper hand this time around and knocked off Passolano 3-1. Klein recorded a takedown for a 2-0 lead in the first period, and injured Passolano's knee during the maneuver. Passolano was never the same afterwards and fell to 19-4 on the season.

Three more semifinalists, Grant Nakamura (125), Trevor Smith (197) and Scott Coleman (HWT) were also sent into the consolation bracket.

Nakamura advanced out of the preliminary round with a 2-0 win over Missouri's Austin DeVoe, but was dominated by Jason Powell in his next match, 8-2. A two-seed despite his 11-11 regular season mark, Smith dropped a 6-3 decision to Missouri's Jeff Foust. Coleman wrapped up the morning session by losing to Oklahoma State's Will Gruenwald, 6-2.

Oklahoma State dominated the morning session by getting eight wrestlers through to championship matches, and by doing so clinched its second consecutive conference team championship and fifth in seven seasons. The Cowboys surged to 67 points to lead Missouri and Nebraska, who entered the evening session with 34 points apiece. ISU and Oklahoma were a distant fourth with 16 points each.

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