Evanston, Ill. â€” Joe Slaton looked as if he might have a new touch of the flu Monday as he watched his Iowa teammates compete in the opening round of the Midlands wrestling tournament at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
Slaton, an NCAA runner-up at 133 pounds last season, had to watch from the stands as the No. 1 Hawkeyes took a 4-point lead over No. 2 Iowa State after the opening session of the 46th annual tournament.
The Hawkeyes are the defending Midlands team champion.
Iowa had 43 points and all 10 of its designated points-scorers in Monday nightâ€™s quarterfinal round. Iowa State had seven in the championship round and three in the consolation side.
Northern Iowa was tied with Indiana for 13th place with 19 points. The Panthers have three in the quarterfinals â€“ Charlie Ettelson at 149, Tyson Reiner at 157 and No. 1 seed Moza Fay at 165.
Fay is the first Panther wrestler to hold a No. 1 seed here since Brad Penrith took over the program in the 2000-01 season.
Slaton, who was ranked No. 1 by W.I.N. Magazine earlier this season, was the No. 6 seed at 133. He did not get on the scale Monday to weigh in.
â€œRight after Christmas I had the flu and a few other things,â€ Slaton said. â€œIâ€™d rather be wrestling, you know, but thatâ€™s the way it goes.â€
Iowa coach Tom Brands declined comment on Slatonâ€™s struggle.
The other two main competitors at 133 for the Hawkeyes, Dan Dennis and Montell Marion, easily advanced to the quarterfinals and were one victory Monday night from a showdown in Tuesdayâ€™s semifinals.
Brands said the Hawkeyes had a good start, but they needed better rounds as the tournament got deeper.
â€œWeâ€™re in position, so thatâ€™s good,â€ Brands said. â€œNow weâ€™ve got to come through in these money rounds. Weâ€™re at the quarterfinal round, where you can do a lot of damage, but youâ€™ve got to be ready to go.â€
Iowa State, led by two pins from No. 1 seed Jake Varner at 197, withstood the upset of No. 1 seed David Zabriskie at heavyweight. Jon Reader, who was in the quarterfinals at 165, said the Cyclones were following their season-long game plan.
â€œWeâ€™ve had a mentality all year of 420 â€” 420 seconds in each match,â€ Reader said. â€œIf you wrestle 420 seconds, no one is going to be able to keep up with you.â€
Zabriskie dropped a 3-2 tie-breaker decision to Dom Bradley of Missouri in his second match of the day.
Northern Iowa had one of its better opening-round efforts. Ettelson had a technical fall and a major decision at 149, but faced a daunting task in the quarterfinals â€” Iowaâ€™s Brent Metcalf, who scored a 25-9 technical fall on Ettelson on Dec. 11.
Reiner won three matches, including a 22-8 major decision over Nick LeClere of Iowa, to gain the quarterfinals. Fay also won three matches, opening his day with a pin.
Fay said the recognition that goes with a No. 1 seed is nice, but that didnâ€™t make the competition load any lighter. His weight class is the biggest in the tournament, with 47 competitors. Fay likes the tests this tournament can give him.
â€œThis isnâ€™t nationals, but weâ€™ve got to see where weâ€™re at, expose those weaknesses. Thatâ€™s what Iâ€™m here for,â€ Fay said.
By: Des Moines Register (original article here)