ST. LOUIS, Mo. — It wasn’t pretty, but Cory Clark isn’t looking for style points.
Iowa’s 133-pound wrestler has never allowed his banged up right shoulder to be an excuse, but it hurt him more to know that somebody noticed he was in pain after his 7-4 victory over Ohio State’s Nathan Tomasello Friday in the semifinals at the NCAA Division I wrestling championships at the Scottrade Center.
As his hand was raised in victory, Clark winced slightly in pain.
“First of all, one of my main goals as a competitor is to show no pain, show no emotion,” Clark said. “So that sucks you noticed that hurt.”
Clark’s victory, which gave the Hawkeyes a national finalist for the 42nd time in the last 43 years and for the 28th consecutive year, was the only win among Iowa’s four semifinal matches.
After losing with one second left to Tomasello in the Big Ten finals, Clark won definitively Friday to reach his third consecutive national championship match. He scored two takedowns in third, the first to take a 4-3 lead, and then secured the victory with 19 seconds left and earned a riding time point for the final margin of victory.
“Two third-period takedowns to win that match,” Brands said. “Composed. He didn’t get rattled.”
“Tough match, good, hard-fought match,” Clark said. “It wasn’t pretty in my favor, but I got the ‘W’ and I’m always just out there to wrestle hard and when I got out there I felt real loose and I felt relaxed and I felt really good. When I’m feeling that way, I’m tough to beat.”
Clark has lost each of his two previous national finals appearances — 7-6 last year to Nashon Garrett of Cornell and 11-8 to Cory Brewer of Oklahoma in 2015.
“Every year I’ve thought I was capable of winning this tournament,” Clark said. “I thought I was the best guy at my weight when I put my best self out on the mat. I think the same tonight, I think the same this year, and tomorrow night if I go out and put my best self out on the mat and I come out the way I want to, there is no question in my mind I am going to win that match.”
Clark will face former Iowa teammate Seth Gross of South Dakota State in the finals.
Iowa took its lumps in its other three semifinals.
At 125, top-seeded Thomas Gilman was stunned by fourth-seeded Darian Cruz of Lehigh, 4-2 in sudden victory. At 149, former Denver-Tripoli star Brandon Sorensen was pinned by Penn State’s Zain Retherford in 2 minutes, 37 seconds, while at 184, Sammy Brooks was pinned by the Nittany Lions’ Bo Nickal in 1:02.
The Hawkeyes will finish with five All-Americans as freshman Michael Kemerer remained alive at 157.
Penn State, which went 5-for-5 in the semifinals, all but clinched its second consecutive title and sixth in seven years. The Nittany Lions finished Friday with 121 points, 32 1/2 more than current runner-up Ohio State’s 89.5. Oklahoma State is third with 86, while Iowa is in fifth with 74 points.
Iowa State’s lone remaining wrestler, Lelund Weatherspoon, dropped his only match and was eliminated with the Cyclones in 57th place with one point.