Hawkeyes Send Four To The Finals Joe Williams Looking For Record Ninth Consecutive Title

By John Fuller | Dec. 29, 2002, 12 a.m. (ET)
Evanston, Ill. - The Univ. of Iowa has clinched a team victory at the 40th Midlands Championships in Evanston, Ill., but the team is not satisfied. Four Hawkeye wrestlers will attempt to win individual titles this evening. The Hawkeyes have 199.5 team points heading into the final session. They are followed in the top five by Ohio State (91.5 points), Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club (90 points), Illinois (83.5 points) and Penn State (81.5 points). 125-pound Luke Eustice, 174-pound Tyler Nixt, 184-pound Jessman Smith and 285-pound Steve Mocco all earned trips to the finals for Iowa. Eustice defeated freshman Kyle Ott of Illinois 7-2 in the semifinals. Eustice broke open a tie match in the second period with a takedown and three back points for the win. He will face All-American Travis Lee of Cornell in the finals. Lee snuck by A.J. Grant of Michigan in the semifinals in an overtime thriller. The two traded shots and counters, but with 10 seconds remaining in the match, Lee was able to escape the grasp of Grant and tie the match at 1-1. Shortly after the overtime period began, Lee scored a takedown off a double-leg for the win. Nixt only needed a first-period takedown and a second-period escape against Nathan Coy of the Orange Crush in his 3-2 semifinal win. Nixt's double-jointed knees helped him escape a couple of possibly takedowns by Coy. He will face former Hawkeye Joe Williams of the Sunkist Kids. Williams defeated Brian Glynn of Illinois 8-4, but also took an injury timeout closing in on 10 minutes in the third period. Williams' injury has not been disclosed. He is looking to capture his ninth consecutive Midlands crown, a tournament record. Smith was dominant in his 8-3 semifinal win over Mark Becks of Penn State. He scored three takedowns in the win. Smith will face off with Clint Wattenberg of Cornell in the finals. Wattenberg defeated the athletic Gerald Harris of Cleveland State 5-1 in his semifinal bout, scoring takedowns in the first and second periods. Smith and Wattenberg met in last year's NCAA Tournament consolation rounds with Smith winning 2-1. Mocco has dismantled every opponent he has faced in this tournament, recorded three falls in three matches. His last pin was against Kevin Hoy of the U.S. Air Force Academy. He will now get a rematch with Tommy Rowlands of Ohio State. Rowlands advanced to the finals after his coach Mitch Clark of the Ohio International Wrestling Club forfeited in the semifinals. Rowlands defeated Mocco in a tiebreaker in last year's NCAA finals, riding him out in the 30-second period. Since that match, both wrestlers have looked forward to a rematch this year. Joe Heskett of the Sunkist Kids and Matt Lackey of Illinois will also get a rematch of last year's NCAA finals, when Heskett defeated Lackey for the individual title. The two will square off at 165 lbs. this evening. Heskett pinned Johnny Clark of Ohio State late in the third period, but the match was close throughout. Clark started the match with a takedown to take an early lead, and midway through the second period the score was tied at 5-5. But Clark attempted a double-leg to take the lead and Heskett countered, scoring the takedown and taking control of the match before his pin. Lackey defeated Troy Letters of Lehigh 6-3 to earn a trip to the finals. The always defensive-minded Lackey scored takedowns in all three periods in earning the win. At 133 lbs., Foley Dowd of Michigan will face off with Zach Roberson of Iowa State. Dowd fought off upset-minded Mike Simpson of Arizona State with a 4-3 win. Trailing 3-2 in the third period, Dowd scored a takedown to take a one point lead. He held on to that lead by riding Simpson out for the win. Roberson destroyed former Cyclone Matt Azevedo, now with the Sunkist Kids, 9-3. Down 3-2 in the second period, Roberson scored a reversal and put Azevedo to his back to build up an insurmountable 7-2 lead going into the third period. The 149-pound final will feature 36 year-old John Fisher of the Sunkist Kids and freshman Dustin Manotti of Cornell. Fisher continued to roll through the field, winning by major decision over Jon Masa of Hofstra. Manotti, who many never expected to be in the finals, scored on two low double-leg takedowns in his 5-1 win over Mike Mendoza of the Dave Schultz Wrestling Club. Dana Holland of Arizona State and Dylan Long of Northern Iowa will meet up in the 141-pound final. Holland defeated unattached Derek Phillips 5-3 and Long downed Jeff Ratliff of Ohio State 7-1. Gray Maynard of Michigan State and Keaton Anderson of Ohio State pinned their ways into the 157-pound finals. Maynard pinned Heath Eslinger of the Gator Wrestling Club with two seconds remaining in the first period. Anderson pinned Derek Jenkins of Rider with one second remaining in the match, but was winning 13-1 at the time of the fall. At 197 lbs., Lee Fullhart of the Gator Wrestling Club advanced to the finals with a 1-0 win over Emmett Willson of Montana State-Northern. Fullhart earned an escape in the second period and rode Willson out in the second period for the win. Fullhart will face NCAA finalist Jon Trenge of Lehigh, who defeated Chris Skretkowicz of Hofstra, 5-2. Trenge locked up a cradle in the second period and kept Skretkowicz there for most of the period to take a 5-1 lead. Log on to TheMat.com for complete coverage of the 40th Midlands Championships.