CLEVELAND, Ohio — Momentum can be a fickle beast.
Iowa’s wrestling team experienced that Thursday during the opening sessions of NCAA Division I wrestling championships at Quicken Loans Arena.
The Hawkeyes went 9-1 during Session I and led the team race, but only three of Iowa’s eight second-round wrestlers won, and the Hawkeyes’ second-seeded senior Brandon Sorensen was one of the losers as Session II ended on a down note.
“This is a three-day tournament and this is day one,” Iowa coach Tom Brands said. “This is Session II, and we didn’t do well.”
Despite a mostly disappointing night session, Iowa wrestled well enough to sit in third place because the Hawkeyes scored 15 bonus points, just 2 1/2 less than the program scored all last year in St. Louis.
Ohio State, which went 19-1, leads with 36 points. Penn State is in second with 28.5, followed by Iowa with 27.
The Hawkeyes youngsters rose to the challenge as freshman Spencer Lee registered his second technical fall, while sophomore Michael Kemerer at 157 and freshman Alex Marinelli at 165 each recorded falls in the second round.
“That is how you wrestle matches,” Brands said of his young guns. “You wrestle matches to dominate. You wrestle to score bonus points. It is more fun that way.”
Lee blanked both of his opponents — Alonzo Allen of Chattanooga and Luke Welch of Purdue by the score of 18-0 as he wrestled a grand total of 5 minutes and 40 seconds.
“I was ready to go,” said Lee, the true freshman seeded third. “I scored points kept my hands and feet moving for seven minutes. Did what I needed to do.”
Kemerer recorded his second fall of the day with a 4-minute, 52-second pin of Stanford’s Paul Fox.
“That is the most amount of team points I could’ve gotten so a successful day,” Kemerer said.
Kemerer will face defending national champion Jason Nolf of Penn State in the quarterfinals today.
“I’m excited for it,” Kemerer said. “That is the match everyone wants to see. That is the match I want. That is the match I trained for.”
Marinelli, a redshirt freshman recorded a pair of pins, including Nick Wanzek of Minnesota in the second round in 6:15.
Sorensen, who has finished fourth or better three times at the NCAA championships but had never before the semifinals, was taken down with 30 seconds left in his second-round match with Ronnie Perry of Lock Haven and he lost 3-2.
“You strategize against a guy and we let him hang, and he picked one and took us down,” Brands said. “We were kind of off the whole time.”
Eight of Iowa’s nine qualifiers are still alive with only Joey Gunther at 174 being eliminated.
“It’s a long tournament. It’s a three-day tournament, and we have day two coming up tomorrow,” Brands summarized.
Iowa led after the opening session as the Hawkeyes produced nine wins, six of the bonus variety. That included pins from Kemerer at 157 over Coleman Hammon of CSU-Bakersfield in 1 minute and 38 seconds, Marinelli at 165 over Jacob Morrissey in 6:20 and Sam Stoll in 2:25 over Antonio Pelusi of Franklin & Marshall at heavyweight.
Iowa State’s Jarrett Degen went 1-1 at 149 and advanced to day two.