Iowa State Wrestling: Cyclones claim Big 12 title
By GRANT BELCHER ? Register CORRESPONDENT ? March 9, 2008
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Stillwater, Okla. ? Iowa State did not have to wait nearly as long to begin celebrating this year.
After last season's Big 12 Conference wrestling championships came down to the final match, the Cyclones were able to cruise to a comfortable victory in this year's tournament at Gallagher-Iba Arena on Saturday.
Iowa State had four individual champions to lead the team to its first back-to-back Big 12 titles since 1979-80.
Iowa State finished with 75.5 points, blowing out second place Nebraska, which finished with 62.5. Oklahoma State took third with 52.5.
Nick Fanthorpe at 133 pounds, 141-pounder Nick Gallick, 157-pounder Cyler Sanderson and 184-pounder Jake Varner won their weight divisions for the Cyclones, while Mitch Mueller and David Zabriskie put up second-place finishes.
The team also qualified 10 for the NCAA Championships for the second straight season.
Coach Cael Sanderson said his team's dominant performance could not have come at a better time.
"I think we wrestled well, and I'm proud of the team," Sanderson said. "They really executed and won some close matches, and that's what we want to do at this time of year."
The action was sparse in the quarterfinals for the Cyclones, as they had only three wrestlers trying to fight their way into bracket play.
Tyler Clark and David Bertolino wrestled their way into the bracket, though no team points were awarded for quarterfinal action. Max Dean of Oklahoma defeated Jon Reader in the quarterfinal bout at 165 pounds.
Consistency was key for Iowa State in the semifinals, as six of its nine wrestlers advanced to the championship round.
The Cyclones' opponents took care of themselves, knocking each other off and giving Iowa State the lead with 48 points after the semifinals.
"It was good to get six guys in the finals, and we came out wrestling hard and just stuck to the game plan," Fanthorpe said. "The coaches had a good plan for us."
Iowa State had an advantage going into the championship round with an 11-point lead and more wrestlers in contention than anyone else.
The most exciting match of the night for the Cyclones came in the 157-pound division. Cyler Sanderson, down a point to Missouri's Michael Chandler, scored a takedown with 34 seconds left and neutralized Chandler's riding time to pick up the 6-5 win.
Iowa State will take its qualifiers and begin preparation for the NCAA Tournament March 20-22 in St. Louis.