Cyclones Soaring at Midlands

The Cyclone wrestlers have enjoyed a lot of success on the mat over the last 25 years, but it's been that long since they've won the prestigious Midlands Championships. That streak could end tonight, however, with ISU entering the event's final day atop the standings.

Unseeded redshirt freshman Nick Fanthorpe led an Iowa State charge, knocking-off top-seeded Franklin Gomez of Michigan State at 125-pounds as six Cyclones surged into the semifinal round and ISU tallied 91.5 points for a 23-point advantage over second-place Northwestern at the 44th Midlands Championship in Welsh-Ryan. 

The rest of the top-five are all within a five point margin as Northwestern finished the day in second (68.5). Central Michigan (67), Iowa (65.5) and Indiana (63) round out the top-five. Advancing to the semifinal round of the championship bracket were Fanthrope, Mitch Mueller (141), Trent Paulson (157), Travis Paulson (165), Jake Varner (184) and Kurt Backes (197)

Iowa State has won six Midlands team titles but has not claimed a team crown since 1981.

"We had a good day, but it is a product of the style of wrestling we are teaching at Iowa State," Iowa State head coach Cael Sanderson said. "We want to be the aggressors today and we were, even in matches that we didn't win.  I'm especially happy for Nick, who never gave up in his match and it paid off for him in a big way.  I'm not totally satisfied but a coach never is fully satisfied.

Going into his 125-pound quarterfinal match, unseeded Nick Fanthorpe had already taken out the bracket's eighth seed. Fanthorpe trailed Gomez 7-3 in the third period. A stalling call and a penalty point for using locked hands closed the gap to 7-5. Fanthrope continued to push the pace and another stalling call tied the match at 7-7 at the end of regulation. Fanthorpe wasted no time in the extra period scoring a takedown seconds into the overtime, advancing into the semi-finals with a 9-7 win. Fanthorpe, who hails from  the Chicago suburb of Naperville, was wrestling in front of friends and familyl

"(Gomez) is very shifty and has long arms to keep you away," Fanthorpe said. "I tried to keep up the pace and keep moving around to keep him off balance.  Upsets are what this sport is all about. Ultimately though, this is all practice for March."

Seeded-sixth at 141-pounds, Mueller faced upset-minded Donnie Fisch of Rider, but Mueller was the clear aggressor throughout the match with several near takedowns. Mueller put the first point on the board with a second period escape. Fisch was penalized for stalling in the same period, giving Muller a two-point advantage and ultimately a 2-1 victory.

"The main thing was to keep on him all the time," Mueller said. "A couple of times I thought he was trying to set me up for a throw, so I had to be aware of that all the time.  I work against bigger guys in the room all the time so you learn the situations you can get into."

Trent Paulson, the top-seed at 157-pounds, continued to dominate his opponents as he cruised to a 17-8 quarterfinal major decision over eighth-seeded Brian Cobb (Road Runner WC). Paulson needs two wins to become the 30th Iowa State wrestler with 100 career wins.

"We are adapting more and more to the style our coaches talk about everyday," Paulson said. "You can also see the freshen gaining confidence.  The biggest improvement for them has been mental."

Travis Paulson went full speed ahead at 165-pounds with a 19-8 major quarterfinal decision over seventh-seeded Greg Hagel of Northwestern. The second-seeded Paulson held a four-point lead after the conclusion of the first period and added back points in the second period increasing his edge to 11-3. Paulson is only six victories shy of reaching 100 career wins.

Varner, the third seed at 184-pounds, registered his first major decision of the season with a 12-4 win over sixth-seeded Marc Bennett of Indiana. Varner improves to 14-1.

"We are in good shape and can wear down our opponents," Varner said. "It's definitely part of the strategy."

At 197-pounds, the fifth-seeded Backes took on the fourth-seed, Nathan Moore of Purdue and put on an offensive show in a 14-8 win. Backes held an 8-3 lead to close out the first period en route to the victory. The senior, who has 93 career victories, had a first-round bye and after getting to Welsh-Ryan Arena at 6:30 a.m., didn't wrestle his first match until 4 p.m.  He didn't look rusty.

"I was ready," Backes said. "The matches are easy compared to the practice sessions we have."

Nick Gallick (133) and Cyler Sanderson (149) were one-point quarterfinal losers. Gallick fell to the fourth-seed, Andrae Hernandez of Indiana, 3-2. Gallick was down 3-0 going into the final period.  A late throw move netted the Cyclone freshman a takedown but he could not get sufficient leverage to score back points as the match ended. Sanderson just missed on several takedown attempts and pushed the pace of his 5-4 overtime loss to Purdue's Matt Redmond.

Jason Knipp suffered an 8-3 quarterfinal loss to Illinois' third-seeded Mike Poeta at 157-pounds. Wrestling unattached, ISU true freshman Jonathan Reader came up two-points short of making the semi finals at 165-pounds suffering a 5-3 loss to Illinois' fifth-seeded Roger Smith Bergsrud. Both Cyclones are still alive in consolation brackets.

David Bertolino continues to battle through the consolation brackets at 174-pounds, with two Friday night wins, an 8-4 decision of Adams State's Jared Deaguero and a 3-0 decision over Greg Goidosik of Michigan State.

Iowa State freshman heavyweight David Zabriskie beat Northern Iowa's Dave Benner, 3-1 in overtime consolation action. Zabriskie was eliminated in the next round with a 4-3 loss to Joe Buuck of Indiana.

Semifinal action starts at noon. The tournament will conclude Saturday evening with the finals slated to begin at 7:30 p.m.

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