NCAA WRESTLING CHAMPIONSHIPS
By Jim & Tony Nordland

     Iowa won the 79th annual NCAA Wrestling Championships before 17,345 fans at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri. The Hawkeyes tallied 96.5 points and garnered five All-Americans en route to their 22nd NCAA mat title. They were led by runner-up Brent Metcalf (37-1), a 2008 national champion, who was upset in the finals by Darrion Caldwell, a junior from North Carolina State. Caldwell scored with a single  and high leg lift takedown, and following a Metcalf escape, he struck again with a headlock and stunned the Hawkeye in the opening stanza. Caldwell countered Metcalf's shots throughout the bout and recorded a third period scramble takedown with a minute remaining in the match, and posted a solid 11-6 decision. Caldwell, who was voted the tournament's outstanding wrestler commented on facing the heavily favored Metcalf in the finals, "It's not like he had a gun and I had a knife", he also added, "This is the happiest moment of my life."

      Rounding out the top teams were; Ohio State (92), Iowa State (84.5), Nebraska (78.5) and Cornell with 73.5. All four of those teams emerged with a individual championship. The Buckeyes were paced by two-time titlist J Jaggers (28-7) at 141, the Cyclones had Jake Varner (31-2) at 197, the Cornhuskers with Jordan Burroughs (157) and the Big Red were led by three-time All-American Troy Nickerson (2-3-1) at 125 pounds. Nickerson defeated two NCAA champions to gain his crown, he edged Angel Escobedo (Indiana), 2-1, in the semifinals, and needed overtime against Paul Donahoe (35-1) of Edinboro, as he rode him out to win 2-1, on a locked hands penalty. Troy's dad, Bob, was Troy's first wrestling coach and told him at an early age, "You can ride anybody for 30 seconds," Troy must have remembered, because that's exactly what he did to gain his victory.

     In a battle of NCAA champions, Northwestern's Jake Herbert defeated junior Mike Pucillo (23-2) of Ohio State, as he used his single leg takedowns and tight ride to post a 6-3 decision and captured the 184-pound title. Other champions included Franklin Gomez (26-2) of Michigan State who held on to edge Buckeye junior Reece Humphrey (30-4), 5-4, at 133, Jarrod King (32-5) of Edinboro at 165, Michigan's Steve Luke (32-0) who cruised to the 174-pound crown, and Missouri's Mark Ellis (30-3) who scored on a wild scramble single leg takedown in overtime to nip Duke's Konrad Dudziak, 3-2, at 285 pounds.

     Hofstra landed in 27th place in the team standings with 22.5 points and had four wrestlers miss All-American status by one match, Lou Ruggirello (30-5) at 133, PJ Gillespie (21-15) at 149, Jonny Bonilla-Bowman (25-9) at 157 and Ryan Patrovich (22-10) at 165 pounds. All are underclassmen and will have a chance to reach the awards podium next year.