Minnesota Wins NCAA Wrestling Championship

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- Minnesota didn't need a dramatic finish Saturday night. Cole Konrad gave them one anyway.
Moments after an Iowa State loss had clinched the NCAA wrestling title for the Golden Gophers, Konrad scored a first-round pin of Penn State's Aaron Anspach in the tournament's final match.
Konrad, though, wasn't sure of the exact mathematics.
"I hadn't been paying attention, so I thought I needed a pin," he said. "I was anticipating the whole night that it was going to come down to me."
Minnesota finished with 98 points, 9.5 ahead of Iowa State.
"Last year, I was happy for myself, but disappointed for the team," Konrad said. "Now the future is bright -- I'm the only one leaving."
The Cyclones had three wrestlers in the championship round, but a pair of losses kept them from the title.
Trent Paulson helped Iowa State's chances with a come-from-behind 6-5 win over Wisconsin's Craig Henning at 157 pounds. But back-to-back losses by Jake Varner (184 pounds) and Kurt Backes (197) handed the championship to Minnesota.
Trailing 3-1 going into the third period, Paulson got two takedowns, including one that broke a 4-4 tie with 10 seconds left. That was the last good news for the Cyclones, though, as Northwestern's Jake Herbert beat Varner 5-1 and American's Josh Glenn took a 6-4 overtime decision over Backes.
Herbert, who lost to Ben Askren in the 174-pound final last year, scored a takedown in each of the first two periods on the way to the win.
In the next match, Glenn had an apparent match-winning move waved off in the final 20 seconds of regulation, but needed just 12 seconds of the extra period to score a takedown and eliminate Iowa State from the title hunt.
"It was a tough call, but I knew I was going to win the match no matter what," he said.
Missouri finished third with 80 points, seven spots ahead of its previous best result. Oklahoma State, winner of the previous four titles, finished fifth.
That wasn't the only streak to end for the Cowboys. Johny Hendricks was going for a third-straight national title at 165 pounds, but was stunned by Iowa's Mark Perry in a rematch of the 2005 final.
The match was tied at two when Perry got a takedown with 20 seconds left.
Hendricks made it 4-3 with an escape, but couldn't find a way to score again before time ran out. Perry had lost all six previous meetings to Hendricks, including two this year.
"Once I got on top, I knew it was over," Perry said.
Nebraska's Paul Donahoe started the night with a major upset at 125 pounds, ending Sam Hazewinkel's undefeated season with a 3-1 overtime victory. The Oklahoma senior had finished third for three straight seasons, and was favored to end his career with a title, but couldn't get anything going against a wrestler that he had beaten 10-3 in the Big 12 tournament.
After a scoreless first period, the pair traded escapes to leave the score tied at 1 going into sudden-victory overtime. Moments into the extra session, Donahoe dove in and secured a single-leg hold. Hazewinkel tried to break loose, but couldn't prevent the two-point takedown.
Donahoe, a sophomore, grew up in Davison, about a half-hour north of the Palace.
"Winning here makes it so much better," he said.
A second local wrestler, Michigan's Josh Churella, nearly added a second title for the area, but he lost 3-1 in overtime to Edinboro's Gregor Gillespie at 149 pounds.
The sophomore celebrated by racing into the Palace stands to celebrate with a small contingent of Edinboro fans.
"I'm just glad to put Edinboro on the map," he said.
The 141-pound final matched a pair of undefeated wrestlers, but turned into a lopsided win for Derek Moore of Cal Davis. Moore, who missed much of the season with injuries, routed top-seeded Ryan Lang (Northwestern) 17-2.
"It seems like I've spent thousands of hours in rehab," said Moore, who was named the tournament's outstanding wrestler. "I never thought I would win like this."
Lang actually led 2-0 after a takedown in the first 10 seconds, but Moore tied the match later in the period, then scored 10 points in the second before finishing off the first title in school history with two takedowns and a near fall in the first 40 seconds of the third.
"I've never been controlled like that in my life," Lang said. "I thought I was doing well, and then he got on top and 15 points later, my season was over. I guess I have some things to learn."
Pitt's Keith Gavin had dreams of another upset when he took a 2-0 lead in the first period of the 174-pound final against Missouri's Ben Askren.
Askren, though, tied the match at the start in the second period, then took control with a two-point takedown and a three-point near-fall early in the third. After the 8-2 win, Askren recieved a standing ovation from the Palace crowd, but he wasn't satisfied.
"I thought I'd be able to get a big lead and get rolling," he said. "I left a bad impression today. I didn't wrestle as hard as I could, and I'm ashamed of that."
He finished his college career with an 87-match winning streak and two national titles. His last loss came in the 2005 championship match.
Matt Valenti became the first Penn wrestler to win back-to-back titles in 65 years when he posted a 4-2 victory over Oklahoma State's Coleman Scott at 133 pounds.


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