Five Hawkeyes roll to semifinals, four remain in wrestlebacks

Iowa+141-pounder+Christop+Carton+tries+to+pin+South+Dakotas+Isaac+Andrade+during+the+54th+Annual+Ken+Kraft+Midlands+Championships+in+Welsh-Ryan+Arena+on+Thursday%2C+Dec.+29%2C+2016.+Carton+defeated+Andrade+by+major+decision%2C+10-2.+%28The+Daily+Iowan%2FJoshua+Housing%29

Joshua Housing

Iowa 141-pounder Christop Carton tries to pin South Dakota’s Isaac Andrade during the 54th Annual Ken Kraft Midlands Championships in Welsh-Ryan Arena on Thursday, Dec. 29, 2016. Carton defeated Andrade by major decision, 10-2. (The Daily Iowan/Joshua Housing)

By Courtney Baumann | [email protected]

EVANSTON, Ill. — Five Iowa wrestlers are still alive in the championship bracket at the 54th Ken Kraft Midlands Championships. Thomas Gilman, Brandon Sorensen, Michael Kemerer, Alex Meyer, and Sam Stoll will compete in the semifinals Dec. 30.

With the exception of redshirt freshman Kemerer, all four Hawks have seen Midlands semifinals before — Sorensen has made it that far twice, and Gilman has been in the championship match three times, winning the tournament in 2013 and 2015.

The team sits at No. 1 overall, with 85.5 points.

Both Gilman and Sorensen are satisfied with their own performances in the tournament, but they also see room for improvement.

Gilman has earned a fall and three technical falls so far; he didn’t pin the last three, so he’s right, there is some room for improvement.

Sorensen also had a relatively easy go of it through the bracket, after a first-round bye he earned a decision, then a fall, then a major decision.

Again, not all falls, so room for improvement.

That being said, the most important thing heading into the second day of competition is staying focused on individual performance.

To do so, Gilman reflects on his matches to figure out what went his way and what didn’t. He sometimes puts on his headphones for music, but right now he’s listening to a podcast by Dan Carlin, called “Hardcore History.” It’s about World War I and the Armageddon. Light listening.

Sorensen stays focused by having a solid cool-down session and relaxing between matches.

“You’re here, and it’s an individual thing. If everyone does his part, that’s where the team title comes in,” he said. “You just have to be smart and get a good warm-up before the match, then cool down, go upstairs, and get some nutrition in you, keep it going through you, and just relax.”

Although the wrestlers are more focused on themselves rather than the team as a whole, they still hope for and expect to see positive results from their fellow Hawkeyes.

“There’s a quote that I like to use from Muhammad Ali, it’s ‘Me-We.’ If I take care of myself, my teammates will take care of themselves,” Gilman said. “If I’m going out there and getting pins, tech falls, and bonus points, the team is going to take care of itself.

“Wrestling is an individual sport, and I can’t be worrying about guys like [Sammy] Brooks right now, I have faith in him … I have a lot of faith in my teammates.”

For the rest of the Hawkeyes who dropped down to the consolation bracket, that focus is just as important.

Four Iowa wrestlers remain in the wrestleback competition — unattached competitors Alex Marinelli and Kaleb Young are in the 165 consolations after losing their quarterfinal matchups. Seniors Topher Carton and Sammy Brooks lost their quarterfinal matches as well, and they will attempt to wrestle through the bracket to earn third place.

For Iowa head coach Tom Brands, the solution to moving on in the consolation brackets is simple.

“One match at a time; they have to keep doing what they’re doing,” Brands said. “We chose to wrestle, so we have to wrestle.”

Follow @cbomb12 and @DI_Sports_Desk on Twitter for Iowa wrestling news, analysis, and updates.

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