DES MOINES -- On a day when bonus points were at a premium for the Hawkeyes, Tony Ramos took matters into his own hands.
The junior from Carol Stream, Illinois, entered Day One of competition at the NCAA Division 1 Wrestling Championships with 13 pins on the year. After Sessions I and II, he had 15.
"We lost at the Big Tens by twenty points, and most of it was bonus points," said the 133-pound No. 2 seed.
"If it's there, I'm going to take it," he said. "You may see something for a split second and you've got to jump on it. A lot of guys will let it go. You've got to keep going for it."
Ramos said he is wrestling at a higher pace this season, and that accounts for the high number of falls.
"Even though it's at a higher pace, I'm slowing things down in my mind," he admitted. "I was a little hesitant last year, maybe a little slower. This year, I'm jumping on it."
Pinning first Bloomsburg's Nick Wilcox at 1:56, Ramos got the fall during the evening session over North Carolina's Joseph Ward at 1:07.
Defending champion at 125, senior Matt McDonough got the 10-2 major decision over Cleveland State's Ben Willeford during the morning session. During the evening bill, he took the 5-1 decision over Steve Mitcheff of Kent State.
"There are definitely things I can improve upon," said McDonough. "All in all, it was a solid day. Having to wrestle where I'm good is what's key."
McDonough was in control throughout both his matches, but the points did not always come easily.
"I need to force my offense a little bit more," he said. "At the same time, you don't want to get yourself out of position doing things like that. I'd like to increase the scoreboard; but, at the same time, not letting that guy score any points on you is important."
The Hawkeyes suffered a setback at heavyweight when Bobby Telford suffered an injury during the third period of his first match against Bucknell's Joe Stolfi. Telford was able to win the match with an 8-1 decision.
Telford returned for the evening session with his right leg heavily wrapped and walking with a limp. Appearing on the mat to face Boise State's J.T. Felix, Telford forfeited the match, sending him to the wrestlebacks.
Head coach Tom Brands was not specific when he discussed Telford's injury.
"We've got to get some joints unlocked and we will go from there," he said. "He's got a lot of guts. It would be really easy to pack up and go home with a medical forfeit."
Ethen Lofthouse provided the crowed with some excitement as the 12th-seeded junior faced 5th-seeded Kevin Steinhaus from Minnesota. Having picked up the 8-2 decision over Iowa State's Boaz Beard earlier, Lofthouse got the 3-2 decision, getting a takedown late in the third period and riding out for the victory.
"Before the match even starts, in my head, I've already won," said Lofthouse. "No negative thoughts. No thoughts of being taken down. Being calm and relaxed. Positive thinking. Seeing yourself win on the big stage."
Brands cited urgency as the reason for Lofthouse's surge during the last month of the season.
"His back was against the wall and he changed some things," said Brands. "I'm not a genius and able to tell you what's changed. But he's become more of a complete wrestler. He's tougher. Give credit to (assistant coach Ryan) Morningstar."
At 141, Mark Ballweg got the 3-0 decision over Lock Haven's Saniel Neff in the morning. During the nightcap, he got a late takedown to cap a 3-2 decision over Penn's Charles Cobb.
Second-seeded Derek St. John easily handled The Citadel's Matthew Frisch, getting the 9-3 decision early. During the evening round, it was St. John with the 9-5 decision over Air Force's Joshua Kreimier.
For the 174 bout, it was Mike Evans with the 2-0 early decision over Central Michigan's Craig Kelliher. Later, Evans picked up the 11-3 major decision over Eastern Michigan's Phillip Joseph.
The Hawkeyes had dropped two matches in the opening round. Nathan Burak lost to top-seeded and undefeated Dustin Kilgore of Kent State, 10-2. Nick Moore lost a 5-3 decision to Iowa State's Michael Moreno. In his wrestleback, Moore got the fall with :50 left in the third period over Kent State's Caleb Marsh. Burak also got a wrestleback victory with a 4-0 decision over Harvard's James Fox.
Brands was not quick to describe any feelings he had after the first day of competition at Wells Fargo Arena.
"I don't know if you have feelings in this sport," he said. "If you had feelings, you'd be on a roller coaster. It's one match at a time and, as a coach, you've got to get your guys ready to go every round and every match."
Following the first two sessions, Iowa found itself in fourth place in the team race with 22 points. Penn State (32.5), Oklahoma State (29) and Minnesota (24) make up the top three.
Action resumes Friday morning at 10:00.
Ramos Paces Hawkeyes In Des Moines
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