Champions Gilman, Sorensen and Burak fuel Iowa to third-straight Midlands Championships crown

By Richard Immel USA Wrestling | Dec. 30, 2015, 11:03 p.m. (ET)
Brandon Sorensen (Iowa) defeated Jason Tsirtsis (Northwestern) 3-1
in the 149-pound finals at the Ken Kraft Midlands Championships.
Photo: Tony Rotundo,
EVANSTON, Ill. - The Iowa Hawkeyes reigned at Welsh-Ryan Arena on Wednesday evening at the 53rd annual Ken Kraft Midlands Championships.

The Hawkeye victory marks the third-straight Midlands championship for the program.

NCAA All-American’s Thomas Gilman, Brandon Sorensen and Nathan Burak all brought home individual titles for the Hawkeyes.

"We've got to do a better job of scoring takedowns. Positive is that we had three in the finals and we went three for three, that's important to me. Winning finals is important," said Iowa head coach Tom Brands.

Gilman opened the championship finals with a decisive 5-1 win over Oregon State’s Ronnie Rio at 125 pounds.

"It's a feather in your cap," said Gilman. "It's not really about winning the Midlands, it's how you win it and the way I won it was a little too close. I've got to get guys to start coming into me and keep scoring those bonus points."

Sorensen won a rematch of the 2015 Big Ten Championship finals at 149 pounds against Northwestern’s Jason Tsirtsis in sudden victory, 3-1.

"It's big, I've been here three times now, finally getting the Midlands title is really what I wanted. Moving on still undefeated, let's keep it that way," said Sorensen.

Burak cruised to a 6-1 victory over redshirt freshman from Nebraska Derek White.

Iowa finished with 152 team points, 17 ahead of second place Nebraska who scored 135. Rutgers finished in third place with 110 points. North Carolina State came in fourth place with 95.5 points. Rider rounded out the top five with 67 points.

Grand View’s Andrew Long stole the show in the Midlands finals with high-flying techniques and scoring points in bunches. Long defeated Steve Bleise of Northern Illinois by technical fall, 23-5, in the 141-pound finals. He was named outstanding wrestler of the competition.

Long was a NCAA finalist as a freshman for Iowa State in 2010 before transferring to Penn State the next year. He was a member of the 2011 NCAA championship team for Penn State and earned a third place finish at the NCAA Championships the same year.

After stints at both Iowa State and Penn State went awry, and finding trouble with the law, Long was forced to leave wrestling for a number of years before finding a home and redemption at the NAIA power Grand View. He is a junior in eligibility at 26 years of age.

Two-time NCAA champion Nick Gwiazdowski extended his NCAA leading win streak to 71 with a 4-3 win over Tanner Hall of Arizona State in the 285-pound finals. Gwiazdowski, in conjunction with North Carolina State teammate Thomas Gantt, became the first ever Midlands champions in program history.

Gantt took down three-time NCAA qualifier Cody Pack of South Dakota State 4-2 in the 157-pound finals.

Representing the Nittany Lion WC, David Taylor added another notch to his wrestling resume after earning his first Midlands title. Taylor topped Nebraska All-American Timothy Dudley 5-3 in the 184-pound finals.

Taylor was a two-time NCAA champion and two-time Hodge Trophy winner for Penn State in college.

Cody Walters became the first Midlands champion in Ohio University history be defeating Jonathan Schleifer of Princeton 1-0 in the 174-pound finals.

Also earning Midlands titles were Emilio Saavedra of Old Dominion at 133 pounds and Chad Welch of Purdue at 165 pounds.

Complete brackets for the 53rd annual Ken Kraft Midlands Championships can be found at

53rd Annual Ken Kraft Midlands Championships
Dec. 29-30 in Evanston, Ill.

Team Standings
1. Iowa 152
2. Nebraska 135
3. Rutgers 110
4. North Carolina State 95.5
5. Rider 67
6. Iowa State 64
7. Old Dominion 63.5
8. Princeton 63
9. Northwestern 61
10. South Dakota State 57

Final Results
125 lbs.
1st: No. 1 Thomas Gilman (Iowa) dec. No. 2 Ronnie Rios (Oregon State), 5-1
3rd: No. 3 Tim Lambert (Nebraska) dec. No. 5 Joshua Rodriguez (North Dakota State), 4-2
5th: No. 4 Kris Williams (Nebraska) maj. dec. No. 8 Kegan Calkins (Oregon St.), 12-4
7th: Ben Thornton (Purdue) dec. No. 11 Brandon Jeske (Old Dominion), 6-4

133 lbs.
1st: No. 13 Emilio Saavedra (Old Dominion) dec. No. 6 Josh Alber (Northern Iowa), 4-2 (SV2)
3rd: No. 4 Eric Montoya (Nebraska) dec. No. 7 Anthony Giraldo (Rutgers), 4-2
5th: No. 10 Dominick Malone (Northwestern) MFF No. 1 Cory Clark (Iowa)
7th: No. 2 Earl Hall (Iowa St.) maj. dec. No. 5 Mason Beckman (Lehigh), 11-3

141 lbs.
1st: No. 4 Andrew Long (Grand View) tech. fall No. 7 Steve Bleise (Northern Illinois), 23-5
3rd: No. 2 Kevin Jack (North Carolina State) dec. No. 3 Anthony Ashnault (Rutgers), 5-2
5th: No. 14 Matthew Kolodzik (Princeton) dec. Ronnie Perry (Lock Haven), 8-6
7th: No. 6 Rick Durso (Franklin & Marshall) dec. No. 1 Chris Mecate (Old Dominion), 3-1

149 lbs.
1st: No. 1 Brandon Sorensen (Iowa) dec. No. 2 Jason Tsirtsis (Northwestern), 3-1 (SV1)
3rd: No. 4 Jake Sueflohn (Nebraska) maj. dec. No. 3 Alexander Richardson (Old Dominion), 10-1
5th: Michael Kemerer (Iowa) MFF No. 5 Bryant Clagon (Rider)
7th: No. 8 Ken Theobold (Rutgers) fall No. 7 Gabe Moreno (Iowa St.), 1:12

157 lbs.
1st: No. 2 Thomas Gantt (North Carolina State) dec. No. 1 Cody Pack (South Dakota State), 4-2
3rd: No. 6 Chad Walsh (Rider) maj. dec. No. 8 Richie Lewis (Rutgers), 10-1
5th: No. 11 Greg Flournoy (George Mason) MFF No. 4 John Boyle (American U.) (MFF)
7th: No. 5 Tyler Berger (Nebraska) dec. No.9 Markus Scheidel (Columbia), 5-2

165 lbs.
1st: No. 3 Chad Welch (Purdue) fall No. 4 Tanner Weatherman (Iowa State), 3:54
3rd: No. 8 Connor Brennan (Rider) dec. Mitch Wightman (American), 6-2
5th: No. 2 Austin Wilson (Nebraska) dec. No. 9 Adam Fierro (CSU Bakersfield), 3-1
7th: Patrick Rhoads (Iowa) fall Tyler Rill (Buffalo), 6:42

174 lbs.
1st: No. 4 Cody Walters (Ohio) dec. No. 3 Jonathan Schleifer (Princeton), 1-0
3rd: No. 1 Alex Meyer (Iowa) MFF No. 2 Micah Barnes (Nebraska)
5th: No. 9 Phil Bakuckas (Rutgers) dec. No. 12 David Kocer (South Dakota State), 4-1
7th: No. 5 Lelund Weatherspoon (Iowa St.) fall Trace Engelkes (Northern Illinois), 0:18

184 lbs.
1st: No. 1 David Taylor (Nittany Lion WC) dec. No. 3 Timothy Dudley (Nebraska), 5-3
3rd: No. 5 Hayden Zillmer (North Dakota State) dec. No. 4 Sammy Brooks (Iowa), 9-5
5th: No. 6 Pete Renda (North Carolina State) dec. No. 7 Abram Ayala (Princeton), 3-2
7th: No. 9 Zahid Valencia (Arizona St.) fall No. 8 Nicholas Gravina (Rutgers), 2:44

197 lbs.
1st: No. 1 Nathan Burak (Iowa) dec. No. 14 Derek White (Nebraska), 6-1
3rd: No. 4 Brett Harner (Princeton) fall No. 5 Aaron Studebaker (Nebraska), 2:50
5th: No. 2 Reuben Franklin (CSU Bakersfield) MFF No. 10 Hayden Hrymack (Rutgers)
7th: No. 3 Nate Rotert (South Dakota State) dec. No. 13 Ryan Wolfe (Rider), 7-3

285 lbs.
1st: No. 1 Nick Gwiazdowski (North Carolina State) dec. No. 7 Tanner Hall (Arizona State), 4-3
3rd: No. 4 Sam Stoll (Iowa) maj. dec. No. 6 Ross Larson (Oklahoma), 11-1
5th: No. 5 Billy Smith (Rutgers) dec. No. 12 Dawson Peck (Maryland), 5-0
7th: Gage Hutchison (Eastern Michigan) tech. fall. No. 9 Joseph Fagiano (Cal Baptist), 26-8