USA Wrestling

Lackey Mocco Get Revenge Williams Wins Ninth Consecutive Midlands Title

By John Fuller | Dec. 30, 2002, 12 a.m. (ET)
Evanston, Ill. - Revenge can be the sweetest thing. Just ask Matt Lackey of Illinois and Steve Mocco of Iowa. Both wrestlers won titles on Sunday evening at the 40th Midlands Championships by defeating the wrestler who beat them in the NCAA finals last year. Lackey downed Joe Heskett of the Sunkist Kids 9-5 at 165 lbs. and Mocco defeated Tommy Rowlands of Ohio State 4-1 at 285 lbs. Lackey began his finals match hesitant to shoot against Heskett, who is nearly four inches taller. Trailing 1-0 in the second period, Lackey was able to finish a single-leg with a trip near the edge of the mat to take his first lead. But Lackey took control in the third period. Holding a slim 3-2 lead, Lackey drove into Heskett with a double-leg, taking him to his back for two nearfall points and a 7-2 lead. Lackey added one more takedown to seal the win. "I've taken him down about every time we've wrestled," said Lackey, who had lost three straight Midlands matches to Heskett before Sunday. "I learned to realize that it doesn't matter. With him, it's a long match and you have to keep wrestling. I knew I needed one more and the back points were icing on the cakes." Lackey was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Wrestler. Mocco wasn't quite as aggressive as Lackey was, but he did enough to win. The heavyweight battle that most wrestling fans have waited since late March to see turned out to be nothing more than a pushing match. Mocco did a lot of the pushing, but was able to force two stalling calls on Rowlands in the first two periods to earn a point towards his win. Each wrestler earned one escape, but Mocco was able to score off of a Rowlands shot with 15 seconds remaining in the match for the 4-1 win. Following the match, the two traded shoves and Rowlands shot a double-leg on Mocco before officials and coaches separated the two. "I felt like he was running backwards, he wasn't wrestling, he'd walk out of bounds 50 times," stated Mocco, who attempted one shot in the match. "It's hard to score on a guy if he isn't working." Rowlands felt that the shoving incident at the end of the match should not carry over to an off-the-mat issue. "I hope both of us can keep it on the mat because if I took personal what happened in the practice room every day, I wouldn't have any friends. I hope what happens on the mat stays on the mat. That's the way I approach it, and I hope he does the same." Mocco captured the awards for the fastest fall (16 seconds) and for the most falls in the least time (3 falls in 5:16). Nearly overshadowed on the evening was Joe Williams of the Sunkist Kids capturing his ninth consecutive Midlands title, a tournament record. Fittingly, his 174-pound finals win over Tyler Nixt of Iowa was his 50th career Midlands victory. "Anytime you can break a record like that, I think it helps out wrestling," Williams said. "That's my biggest deal outside of winning matches, competing at my best and wrestling to win." Williams recorded a 6-3 decision over Nixt, whom Williams coaches at the Univ. of Iowa, but it was Williams' semifinal match that drew concern from wrestling fans. In an 8-4 win over Brian Glynn of Illinois, Williams was accidentally kicked in the head and had to receive 10 stitches underneath his eye. It was also a special night for Cornell, a team which placed three wrestlers in the finals: 125-pound Travis Lee, 149-pound Dustin Manotti and 184-pound Clint Wattenberg. Lee, an All-American last year, continued his surge towards a national title with a dominating 9-3 win over Luke Eustice of Iowa, an NCAA finalist last season. Lee took a quick lead in the first period with an inside trip near the edge of the mat. He extended his lead almost immediately when Eustice tried to arch into Lee to earn an escape. During the movement, Lee sucked Eustice back to the mat and earned two nearfall points. Lee sealed the win with an escape and two takedowns in the third period. He was later named the Art Kraft Champion of Champions. Manotti, a freshman, defeated veteran John Fisher of the Sunkist Kids 5-3 in the finals. Fisher is a four-time Midlands champion. Throughout the match, Manotti controlled the pace. It paid off in the second period when Manotti finished a double-leg takedown taking Fisher to his back for a 5-1 lead. The freshman held off a late rally by Fisher in earning the win. Wattenberg was not as lucky as his teammates, losing a 6-5 decision to Jessman Smith of Iowa. Wattenberg gained early control with a takedown midway through the first period, but Smith slowly pecked away at Wattenberg, scoring two escapes and continuously getting deep on single-legs throughout the first two periods. With the match tied at 4-4 in the third period, Smith was able to score on a single-leg to take a 6-4 lead. He then held off Wattenberg, who appeared tired throughout the final period. In last year's NCAA Tournament, Smith defeated Wattenberg 2-1 to move into the third-place match. At 133 lbs., Foley Dowd of Michigan scored a late takedown to seal a 6-4 win over All-American Zach Roberson of Iowa State. Dowd began the scoring with a late first-period takedown. In the second period, Roberson scored an escape and a takedown of his own to capture a 3-2 lead. Dowd was able to tie the score late in the second period with an escape, and immediately took the lead back in the third period with another escape before his late takedown clinched victory. Dylan Long of Northern Iowa recorded a 3-1 win over Dana Holland of Arizona State in the 141-pound final. Neither wrestler was able to find their offense during the match, but Long was able to score a takedown in the first period to take a 2-0 lead. Each wrestler added an escape in the match. Keaton Anderson of Ohio State was able to complete two comebacks in a 9-6 win over Gray Maynard of Michigan State at 157 lbs. Maynard, an All-American, appeared to be in control of the match in the first period when he scored a takedown and used a tilt to take a 5-2 lead. Anderson chipped away at that lead, earning an escape in the second period and scoring on a double-leg with three seconds left in the period to tie the score at 5-5 heading into the third period. In the final stanza, Maynard took the lead back with an escape, but with 25 seconds left in the match, Anderson came out on top of a wild scramble to score the winning takedown and three nearfall points. During the scramble, Maynard actually was on top of Anderson moments before Anderson rolled through and put Maynard to his back. At 197 lbs., NCAA finalist Jon Trenge of Lehigh dominated Lee Fullhart of the Gator Wrestling Club in a 4-1 win. Most of the scoring came in the second period when Fullhart chose to start the period from the bottom position. Trenge locked up a cradle and put Fullhart to his back for nearly 30 seconds, taking a 3-0 lead. Each wrestler added an escape to complete the scoring. Iowa captured the team title for the 21st time in school history. The Hawkeyes finished with 129.5 points. The were followed in the top five by Ohio State (96.5 points), the Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club (95.0 points), Illinois (92.5 points) and Penn State (84.5 points). TheMat.com provided complete coverage of the 40th Midlands Championships. To view the special coverage section, click here. 2002 Midlands Championships Final Results 125: Travis Lee (Cornell) dec. Luke Eustice (Iowa), 9-3 133: Foley Dowd (Michigan) dec. Zach Roberson (Iowa St.), 6-4 141: Dylan Long (N. Iowa) dec. Dana Holland (Ariz. St.), 3-1 149: Dustin Manotti (Cornell) dec. John Fisher (Sunkist Kids), 5-3 157: Keaton Anderson (Ohio St.) dec. Gray Maynard (Michigan St.), 9-6 165: Matt Lackey (Illinois) dec. Joe Heskett (Sunkist Kids), 9-5 174: Joe Williams (Sunkist Kids) dec. Tyler Nixt (Iowa), 6-3 184: Jessman Smith (Iowa) dec. Clint Wattenberg (Cornell), 6-5 197: Jon Trenge (Lehigh) dec. Lee Fullhart (Gator WC), 4-1 285: Steve Mocco (Iowa) dec. Tommy Rowlands (Ohio St.), 4-2
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