The Daily Iowan

Dominant returners and strong newcomers highlight Session 1

This year’s rendition of the Midlands Championships held a lot of action in Session 1 for the Hawkeyes.

Iowa%27s+133-pound+Paul+Glynn+smiles+after+a+victory+during+the+first+session+of+the+55th+Annual+Midlands+Championships+in+the+Sears+Centre+in+Hoffman+Estates%2C+Illinois%2C+on+Friday%2C+Dec.+29%2C+2017.+%28Joseph+Cress%2FThe+Daily+Iowan%29
Iowa's 133-pound Paul Glynn smiles after a victory during the first session of the 55th Annual Midlands Championships in the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, on Friday, Dec. 29, 2017. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa's 133-pound Paul Glynn smiles after a victory during the first session of the 55th Annual Midlands Championships in the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, on Friday, Dec. 29, 2017. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Josep

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Josep

Iowa's 133-pound Paul Glynn smiles after a victory during the first session of the 55th Annual Midlands Championships in the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, on Friday, Dec. 29, 2017. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

James Geerdes, [email protected]

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HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — The first session of the annual Ken Kraft Midlands Championships has come to a close, and Iowa wrestlers — for the most part — did what they do.

With five weights seeded less than the eighth spot, many believed Iowa would not secure a fifth Midlands Championship team victory in a row. Granted, losing is still a possibility, but Iowa scored 51.0 team points to solidly place itself in first place. Arizona State is in second at 39.5, followed by Central Michigan with 37.0 and Rutgers with 36.0.

Leading the charge for Iowa are returning Midlands champions Michael Kemerer and Brandon Sorensen.

Kemerer scored 9.0 points for the Hawkeyes, the most by any wrestler at Midlands. He pinned all three of his opponents in a dazzling combined time of 5:30. Sorensen scored 6.5 points for the Hawkeyes with a pin in 3:52 and a tech fall, notching 40 total match points during the session.

An exciting surprise for Hawkeye fans was the performance from its three lightest weights. True freshman Spencer Lee did not disappoint the Midlands crowd. He forced a pin in 1:20 after notching numerous takedowns. In his second match, against a seventh-seeded Travis Piotrowski of Illinois, Lee worked a quick 17-2 tech fall to secure himself a spot in the quarterfinals.

Fellow true freshman Justin Stickley made it to the Round of 16 before falling to first-seed Nick Suriano of Rutgers. On his way, he upset No. 16-seeded Connor Brown of South Dakota in a 5-4 decision.

“We’re going to control the center of the match, be tough on the edge, and put pressure on our opponents,” head coach Tom Brands said. “That’s where we’re at.”

At 133, Iowa saw a new Paul Glynn. Earlier in December, head coach Tom Brands said Glynn would soon break out of his rut, and he seemingly did. Glynn advanced to the quarterfinals by upsetting fifth-seeded Ben Thornton of Purdue in a 5-1 decision. He then pinned Anthony Rubinetti of Northwestern. And to cap off his session, Glynn won a 3-2 decision over Wisconsin’s Jens Lantz.

At 141, Carter Happel pleaded his case for being Iowa’s starter. The 12th-seeded Happel had a tech fall, a pin, and a major decision on his way to the quarterfinals. Teammate Vince Turk lost in the Round of 16 in a 7-4 decision to 3rd-seeded Cole Weaver of Indiana.

Only two Hawkeyes lost in their opening rounds, immediately finding themselves in the consolation bracket: 174-pound starter Joey Gunther and unaffiliated heavyweight Aaron Costello.

Midlands showed many fans what they already knew: Iowa can score match points up and down the board. Besides Kemerer, Sorensen, and Lee, junior Sam Stoll had two DQs courtesy of tournament stalling rules.

“There was a mandate from the officials that the edge of the mat was going to be different — how they were going to call it — because of stalling,” Brands said. “Our guys were taking advantage of that.”

Wrestling while unaffiliated, younger talents on Iowa raked in points as well.

Jacob Warner had an 8-2 decision and a 11-3 major decision at 197 pounds in the first session.

“Lee and Warner were scoring points,” Brands said. “Warner had a major decision, and Lee had a lot of bonus points, scoring a lot of points in his matches — that’s what we like … You have to wrestle with purpose, with urgency. You have to wrestle to score points.”

Session 2 of Midlands starts at 7 p.m. Dec. 29; it will feature the quarterfinals and some consolation matches. Midlands will conclude on Dec. 30 starting at noon.

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About the Writer
James Geerdes, Sports Reporter

James “Jim” Geerdes is a sports reporter, digital producer, and designer. He is currently  a sophomore. He spent his freshman year covering wresting, softball, and rowing, while also designing for the print newspaper.

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