Session 3 of the Midlands Championships was highlighted by five Hawkeye victors.
By James Geerdes
HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — In the Midlands semifinals, five of seven Hawkeyes advanced to championship matches on Dec. 28. Here’s how it happened:
College wrestling finally gave Hawkeye Spencer Lee a formidable opponent. Oregon State’s Ronnie Bresser went through the first period scoreless with Lee. Lee started down in the second and earned a quick escape point, but Bresser was able to defend Lee’s shots.
It wasn’t until late in the third period when Bresser scored on an escape, then followed it with a takedown to go up 3-1 and give Lee his first college loss.
Lee chose to not wrestle back because of medical reasons and defaulted to sixth-place after his match with Bresser. Bresser will wrestle Rutger’s Nick Suriano in the finals.
Arizona State’s Jason Tsirtsis nearly knocked off Midlands defending champion Brandon Sorensen after a slow match with the senior. At the end of the third period the score was 1-1. Sorensen finally landed a shot in the tiebreaker and won, 3-1.
Sorensen will have to beat Central Michigan’s Justin Oliver to win his third Midlands championship.
Defending Midlands champion Michael Kemerer cruised to another victory in his tournament destruction. Although he couldn’t hit a fall, he did win by technical fall, 19-4.
Kemerer landed shot after shot on Brown’s Justin Straudenmayer to run up the score. He started the match with a quick takedown, then a near fall to immediately launch himself up, 6-0. The 157-pounder never looked back to seal his spot in the finals.
Standing in Kemerer’s way of his second Midlands championship is former high-school teammate Josh Shields.
Sophomore Alex Marinelli will improve on last year’s third-place Midlands finish. The 165-pounder landed himself a spot in the finals after he topped Rutgers’ Richie Lewis for the second time this season.
Marinelli and Lewis were scoreless through the first period, then Marinelli escaped in the second. Strong defense by both kept the score at 1-0. Lewis escaped in the third to tie the match, and Marinelli finally landed a takedown on the edge of the mat. Lewis’ escape was not enough, and Marinelli advanced to the finals.
Marinelli will face Jon Schleifer of Princeton for the 165-pound championship.
Iowa’s two 197-pounders in the event — Jacob Warner and Cash Wilcke — headed into the semifinals paired against each other. The Hawkeye matchup did not disappoint the many Black and Gold fans in attendance.
A well-defended first period resulted in no score, then Warner escaped in the second. He landed a would-be takedown, but Wilcke’s corner threw the challenge brick, resulting in the call being overturned.
The third period started with Wilcke on bottom. He escaped and maneuvered his way to a takedown to lead 3-1 with 1:13 left in the match. A controversial stall was called on Wilcke, but Hawkeye fans remained relatively impartial because of the intrasquad matchup, which took the match to sudden victory.
Wilcke made quick work in the overtime period and pinned Warner after landing a shot on the edge of the mat to advance to his first Midlands finals. Penn’s Frank Mattiace will square off with Wilcke in the 197-pound finals.
Iowa’s heavyweight Sam Stoll cruised through his fourth Midlands match to earn himself a spot in the finals.
The junior faced Northwestern’s 6th-seed Conan Jennings, who had advanced to the semifinals with a tech fall, a pin, and a 9-2 decision. Stoll quickly silenced any doubters with a takedown early in the first, then followed it with a near fall, and rode hard.
Stoll ended the match with an 8-2 decision; he will face Arizona State’s Tanner Hall in the championships.