March 9, 2011
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- The second-ranked University of Iowa wrestling team will send nine qualifiers to Philadelphia, Pa., next week for the 2011 NCAA Championships. The event will be held March 17-19 at Wells Fargo Arena. The official tournament brackets were released Wednesday night by the NCAA. Iowa is one of four schools to qualify nine wrestlers, while Boise State and Oklahoma State each qualified their entire 10-man lineup. Cornell, Minnesota and Missouri qualified nine competitors each. Seven schools qualified eight wrestlers, including Lehigh, Michigan, Oklahoma, Oregon State, Pittsburgh, Penn State and Rutgers. It is the 11th time in school history that the Hawkeyes have qualified nine wrestlers for the national tournament. Iowa has won 23 NCAA team titles and is the three-time defending team champion.
All nine of Iowa's NCAA qualifiers earned seeds for the national tournament. Sophomore Matt McDonough, who is the defending NCAA champion at 125 pounds, is Iowa's top-seeded competitor, earning the #2 seed at that weight class. Senior Luke Lofthouse is seeded fifth at 197, while 2010 NCAA finalist Montell Marion is seeded fifth at 141. Hawkeye redshirt freshmen Tony Ramos (133) and Derek St. John (157) each earned the sixth seed, while junior Blake Rasing is seeded seventh at heavyweight. Also earning tournament seeds for the Hawkeyes are redshirt freshman Ethen Lofthouse (174-#9), senior Aaron Janssen (165-#11) and sophomore Grant Gambrall (184-#12). McDonough and Marion are the only two Hawkeye qualifiers with previous NCAA tournament experience.
McDonough and Rasing enter the tournament on winning streaks after collecting individual titles at the 2011 Big Ten Championships last weekend in Evanston, Ill. McDonough is 23-1 this season, has won his last 12 matches and leads the Hawkeyes with 13 pins. Rasing has won his last six bouts and boasts a season mark of 17-5. His first round opponent will be intra-state rival Kyle Simonson of Iowa State. Rasing posted a 2-0 decision over Simonson at the dual in Iowa City in December.
St. John and Luke Lofthouse each finished second at the 2011 Big Ten meet. St. John is 19-4 this season and has won seven of his last eight bouts, while Lofthouse has won nine of his last 10 matches for a 20-5 season record.
Ramos, Janssen and Ethen Lofthouse each battled back through the consolation bracket to place third at last weekend's conference meet. Ramos has won 14 of his last 15 bouts, and has a 21-4 record. He will be wrestling in one of Iowa's two preliminary, or pigtail, matches of the NCAA tournament. Janssen is 25-7 this season, while Lofthouse has a 19-8 record.
Marion placed fourth at the Big Ten meet, while Gambrall placed fifth. Marion, who was reinstated to the Hawkeye wrestling team in January after being suspended from the team in May 2010, has a 9-3 record. Gambrall, who will be wrestling in Iowa's other pigtail bout, is 19-7 this season.
Competition at the 2011 NCAA Championships will kick off at 10 a.m. (CT) March 17. Hawkeye fans can follow Iowa's progress at the tournament through free audio broadcasts, updated tournament brackets and session recaps at www.hawkeyesports.com.
IOWA'S FIRST ROUND NCAA MATCH-UPS (# indicates tournament seed)
125 - #2 Matt McDonough (Iowa) vs. Manuel Ramirez (North Carolina-Greensboro)
133 - #6 Tony Ramos (Iowa) vs. Frank Cagnina (Lehigh)
141 - #5 Montell Marion (Iowa) vs. Stephen Dutton (Lehigh)
157 - #6 Derek St. John (Iowa) vs. Frank Hickman (Bloomsburg)
165 - #11 Aaron Janssen (Iowa) vs. Peter Yates (Virginia Tech)
174 - #9 Ethen Lofthouse (Iowa) vs. winner of Rob Morrison (Rider)/Dorian Henderson (Missouri)
184 - #12 Grant Gambrall (Iowa) vs. Corey Peltier (Maryland)
197 - #5 Luke Lofthouse (Iowa) vs. Riley Orozco (Cal State Bakersfield)
Hwt. - #7 Blake Rasing (Iowa) vs. Kyle Simonson (Iowa State)