Sunday, March 23, 2008

Setback doesn't derail Borschel

By Andy Hamilton and Ryan Suchomel
Iowa City Press-Citizen

ST. LOUIS -- Jay Borschel adjusted his goals Friday night and got what he wanted Saturday -- even though it wasn't what the Iowa sophomore wanted for his season.

Borschel had his sights set on a national title and put together a championship-worthy performance for five matches at the Scottrade Center. The only problem was one of those performances wasn't in Friday night's semifinals.

Pittsburgh's Keith Gavin remained unbeaten with a 3-2 victory against Borschel. Otherwise, the fourth-seeded Hawkeye was on top of his game at the NCAA Championships.

"Solid, tough, stingy, offensive -- definitive of how he needs to wrestle to be successful," Iowa coach Tom Brands said of Borschel's performance.

Borschel's first trip to the medal stand at the national tournament featured two pins, a major decision and a 6-4 win Saturday morning against Nebraska's Brandon Browne for third place.

"I didn't get what I wanted," Borschel said. "(But) if you get knocked off, you've got to forget about it, shake it off and get ready to go again. You've got to get up for every match, not just the ones on the championship side. A lot of guys might come back today feeling sorry for themselves, but you've got to get back up for it and get ready for every match and do as good as you can."

? GOPHER HOLE: At the start of the season, Minnesota was a heavy favorite to win its second consecutive national title.

At the end, the Gophers were out of the championship chase and clinging to one of the last spots in the top 10.

In between, the preseason No. 1 lost seven dual meets, failed to crown an individual conference champion for the first time in 12 years and left the national tournament without a trophy for just the third time since 1996.

"If somebody would've told me we were going to be in 10th place going into the last day of the national tournament, I would've laughed at them," Minnesota senior Mack Reiter said. "It just goes to show you that's why we wrestle the matches. You never know what's going to happen."

Nobody could foresee all of the injury issues the Gophers would encounter this season. Brothers Dustin and C.P. Schlatter dealt with leg problems. Dustin, an NCAA champion in 2006 as a true freshman, placed seventh at 149, while C.P. went 1-2. Roger Kish, an NCAA finalist as a sophomore, had back and shoulder trouble and failed to place in his final tournament.

"Some teams get hurt, some teams are lucky and it always comes around to everybody," Reiter said. "It's not like there's one team specifically that gets all the injuries. It's something that evens out, and that's why you can't complain about it, you can't make excuses, it's just part of the sport. But with everything we were dealt, our team fought their (butts) off. Every guy in that line-up gave it everything he had, I truly believe that and that's something I'll always remember. It doesn't matter where we finish this weekend."

? SIXTH PLACE IS THE FIFTH LOSER: Neither junior Charlie Falck nor sophomore Phil Keddy were all that thrilled about being All-Americans on Saturday.

Falck lost in the semifinals Friday night 4-1 to top seed Angel Escobedo of Indiana, then dropped both matches Saturday morning and finished sixth.

"Actually, I'm embarrassed," Falck said. "I'm better than that and I didn't prove it."

Falck finished the season with a record of 31-7 and improved on his 2007 eighth-place finish at the NCAA Tournament.

"In all my matches I let opportunities slip away," Falck said. "I had missed opportunity after missed opportunity."

It didn't take Falck long to start thinking ahead to next year.

"About five seconds after I lost," Falck said. "I feel I'm better than that. I want to prove it and I didn't, and now I have to wait another year until I get that chance again."

Keddy, the No. 7 seed, suffered through a series of narrow losses, first falling in the quarterfinals to No. 2 seed Mike Pucillo of Ohio State 4-3, then to No. 4 seed Christian Sinnott of Central Michigan 7-4, and to No. 6 Raymond Jordan of Missouri 6-4 in the fifth-place match.

"I'm actually really disappointed," Keddy said. "I know I could've done a lot better. I lost to Pucillo with six seconds left, then came back and lost two matches today.

"In the back of my head, that's going to be there until next season starts."

Keddy finished the season 32-11, and all 11 of his losses were to wrestlers seeded above him at the NCAA Championships.

"I didn't sleep at all last night thinking about that Pucillo match," Keddy said. "I made big strides last year, but I've got to make bigger strides this year because I'm not beating the top guys, and that's what matters."

It's clear that in the Iowa wrestling room, merely being an All-American is not enough.

"Why not be No. 1?" Keddy said. "That's the way it should be. Brands tells us this all of the time. It's a hard but true rule in wrestling -- No. 1 is the only one that everybody remembers. No one is going to remember who took sixth at 184 in 2008. That doesn't matter.

"All-Americans scores a lot of points and is important to the team, but that's not the goal. Being a national champion is the goal."

? CONTROVERSY AT 125: Saturday started with a little controversy for the Hawkeyes when Charlie Falck lost a 7-5 decision to Mark McKnight of Penn State.

Late in the second period, Falck appeared to take McKnight down, and the referee even began counting back points, when McKnight then wiggled loose. The referee then waved off the takedown.

"I doesn't matter what I think," Falck said. "The refs are going to call whatever they think it is. That's the way it's going to be, and it doesn't do any good to get upset about it."

Brands didn't agree with the call, especially when Falck didn't get the same benefit against Tanner Gardner in the fifth-place match. Falck lost 8-2.

"It's disappointing because it's inconsistent," Brands said. "Those referees are great ... they do the best they can, but it's inconsistent."

? KEDDY HOUDINI: Iowa 184-pounder Keddy has a knack for earning an escape in the time it takes to talk about it.

Several times during the weekend Keddy escaped from the down position in under five seconds.

"Really, I know there's nobody that can ride me," Keddy said. "Once you go down and know nobody can ride you, then they really aren't going to be able to."

Keddy said he was explosive off the bottom back at Uintah High School in Vernal, Utah, but let his head get in the way as a freshman.

"I struggled more with just the mentality aspect," Keddy said. "It's just all in your mind on the bottom."

? BACK POINTS: Indiana's Angel Escobedo (125), Oklahoma State's Coleman Scott (133), Ohio State's J Jaggers (141) and Mike Pucillo (184), Iowa's Brent Metcalf (149) and Mark Perry Jr. (165), Cornell's Jordan Leen (157), Pitt's Keith Gavin (174), Penn State's Phil Davis (197) and Northwestern's Dustin Fox were the 10 individual champions.