By Pete Ruden | firstname.lastname@example.org
ST. LOUIS – Though it could’ve been better in some places, Thursday was not a disappointment by any means for the Iowa wrestling team.
On the first day of the NCAA Championships, seven Hawkeyes advanced to the second round, with six qualifying for the quarterfinals.
In his first appearance at nationals, redshirt freshman Michael Kemerer scored bonus points in both of his matches, again affirming the notion that he takes care of business like a seasoned veteran.
While he might’ve had nerves before stepping out onto the mat, they didn’t affect him at all.
“Just not thinking about necessarily where the tournament is. It’s a big stage, [so I’m] just focusing on my wrestling and what I do best,” Kemerer said. “The competition’s going to keep getting tougher as the tournament goes on, so I gotta keep getting tougher.”
Undefeated senior and No. 1 seed Thomas Gilman also used bonus points in both of his matches to give Iowa a boost in the team standings.
After picking up a major decision in Iowa’s first match of the tournament, Gilman took a nap at the team’s hotel and read his book about World War II, before eventually continuing his aggression with another 14-point major decision.
With his win, Gilman is set to face Oklahoma State’s Nicholas Piccininni, who he also beat by major decision earlier this season.
At that dual in Stillwater, Gilman learned something about his opponent.
“He runs his mouth a lot. He likes to run his mouth,” Gilman said. “He didn’t make one move in the dual, then after the dual he wants to run his mouth saying, ‘I’ll see you at the nationals,’ or whatever. Well guess what, bud, you’re going to see me at the nationals tomorrow morning.”
In addition to Gilman and Kemerer, senior Alex Meyer had himself a day at 174 pounds.
Meyer won his first match over Boise State’s Austin Dewey with a 6-1 decision, and then the Southeast Polk product really turned it on.
Meyer, who was given an 11-seed, defeated No. 6 Ryan Preisch of Lehigh with a late takedown to make his way in to the quarterfinals.
“Good job, and he was really on the guy at the end,” Brands said. “Instead of coming back and being complacent, or whatever, and maybe letting him go or the clock tick, he was on him again. Good job, and now we’re on to Day 2 with Meyer.”
The other Hawkeyes advancing to the finals are Cory Clark, Brandon Sorensen, and Sammy Brooks. Sorensen and Brooks both had a fall on the day, while Clark won with two decisions.
Though Topher Carton and Joey Gunther didn’t make it to the quarterfinals, they’re still alive in the consolation bracket.
Carton won two matches on the day, with a win in the pigtail match in the championship bracket and a win in consolations, and Gunther won his first consolation match.
Iowa currently sits in fourth as a team with 24.5 points, trailing Penn State (30.5), Ohio State (26), and Oklahoma State (25.5).
With that being said, the Hawkeyes still have work to do if they want to climb the standings.
“Day 2 is on the horizon. We have a one hour weigh-in tomorrow, and we got a lot of wrestling left to do. That’s my assessment,” Brands said. “I think there’s a lot of big match-ups tomorrow, not that any of them wouldn’t be a big matchup, but it’s going to be head-to-head with some teams that are in it for the team race… We gotta be ready to go.”