Top-seeded Jeff McGinness whipped Eastern Illinois’ Eirik Gustafson
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) _ Top-seeded Jeff McGinness whipped Eastern Illinois’ Eirik Gustafson today to give favored Iowa its first win in the Hawkeyes’ quest to capture its fourth NCAA wrestling title in five years.
McGinness ran his record to 25-0 as he dominated the unseeded Gustafson 5-0 before pinning him at 1 minute and 46 seconds in the first period. Gustafson fell to 12-11.
The sophomore’s victory has been typical for Iowa (14-0), which dominated the regular season by winning an average of 28.6 points.
``Obviously, we’ve had a real consistent season. We’ve always tried to key for the end of the year,″ coach Dan Gable said.
Iowa, Nebraska and Illinois are the only three teams in a field of 82 to qualify all 10 wrestlers. Hawkeyes have three other wrestlers seeded No. 1.
The others include Mike Mena at 118 pounds, Lincoln McIlravy at 150 and Joel Sharratt at 190. The other six Hawkeyes are among the top 12 seeds at their respective weights.
McIlravy, who won a national title at 142 in 1993, goes after his second straight title at 150, while Sharratt also is a defending national champion.
Other defending champions in the field include T.J. Jaworsky of North Carolina, seeded first at 134; Mark Branch of Oklahoma State, seeded second at 167, and Penn State heavyweight Kerry McCoy.
The top-seeded McCoy, one of four qualifiers for the Nittany Lions, needs to win five matches this weekend to tie John Smith of Oklahoma State for second in all-time consecutive wins at 90. Smith is now the Cowboys’ coach. Gable set the record with 98 when he wrestled at Iowa State from 1967-70.
Despite being the overwhelming favorite to win his 13th overall national championship, Gable said the Hawkeyes are not invincible.
``I don’t think we have the type of team where they can go out and throw people down and pin them,″ he said.
In the other weight classes, Gerry Abas of Fresno State is the preliminary top seed at 142, Seton Hall’s Joe Burke is the No. 1 seed at 158, followed by Markus Mollica of Arizona State at 167 and Les Gutches of Oregon State at 177.
Eighth-ranked Minnesota, which gave Iowa its closest match of the year _ 24-12 _ has eight qualifiers, as does No. 15 Fresno State.
Third-ranked Arizona State, No. 7 North Carolina, No. 11 Clarion, Lock Haven and Northern Iowa each have seven qualifiers.