Big 12 Wrestling: Championships

Wrestling on the biggest stage of his college career and facing the pressure situation of overtime in a championship match, Iowa State's 141-pounder Nate Gallick proved he was ready for the spotlight. Gallick pulled off an escape in double overtime, then was able to ride out Nebraska's Matt Murray in the third for a 2-1 victory.

Just one week after facing Murray in the regular season and winning 6-2, Gallick faced a different strategy in the Big 12s. Murray's defensive strategy proved to be his best one against the top-seeded Gallick. And after it looked like he was on his way to his first conference championship with the overtime escape, Gallick held off a near pin from Murray in the final seconds.

"I wrestled him a week ago and the match was a little different," said Gallick, who improved to 20-4 this season. "He wrestled me a lot different, and was a little more offensive then. It gave me more openings to score. I could tell that he studied the tape and really did a good job defending my shots and staying in good position. He wrestled one of the best matches he could against me."

Gallick's victory in the title round was ISU's only championship of the evening, as 133-pound senior Zach Roberson lost by fall to Oklahoma State's Johnny Thompson. Thompson's win came in the final seconds when he caught Roberson napping and pulled off a quick pin over his second-seeded opponent.

But Gallick didn't let his teammate's loss minutes earlier ruin his opportunity to give his host fans a champion.

"I didn't want to let the fans down especially," he said. "We have great fans. I could hear all of them cheering, and the oohs and aahs. It feels really good to win in front of the home crowd. (Roberson's loss) didn't really put as much pressure on me. When my teammates lose, I know how hard they worked all year. I feel for them and feel a little bit of that, but I just tried to put it aside until after the match. It's hard following up a lose."

Douglas praised the work of Gallick, who started the season off slowly with two losses in three matches, and three in his first seven. Gallick ended up winning 14 of his final 15 matches of the regular season, and swiped two in Saturday's competition.

"Nate's had a great year," Douglas said. "He started off real slow and has gradually made progress. That's the end result – he's conference champion and hopefully on his way to being national champion. We're real proud of him. His slow start could have broken him, but he fought back. He's a great athlete and great competitor."

Gallick now heads to the NCAAs with a Big 12 championship in hand.

"This tournament is really tough," Gallick said. "Every weight class is hard and it's tough to qualify for nationals. It means a lot to be going. I went and watched last year and it's not as fun. I'm real happy to win."

Roberson was not so lucky, but still was able to qualify for nationals with his second-place performance. The Cyclone senior was locked in a 1-1 tie with Thompson heading into the final moments, but all of a sudden found himself on his back and was pinned shortly before the buzzer was to sound.

"That was a tough match for Roberson," Douglas said. "He was in it and his tactics were the right tactics. He just relaxed for a second and it was over."

The Cyclones locked up seven wrestlers for the NCAA Tournament, and will still be hoping to secure a wild card for 157-pounder Travis Paulson. The freshman entered the Big 12s as a three seed, but lost his third-place match to Nebraska's B.J. Wright.

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