They're here! The 55th Midlands finals! Iowa looks to lock up yet another Midlands team title and 20 wrestlers will battle for individual glory. We'll keep you posted with live updates from the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, Illinois. You can also follow action LIVE ON FLO.
We'll be starting with 165 pounds, so as to end with two high school teammates, Kemerer and Shields.
Nick Suriano (Rutgers) vs Ronnie Bresser (Oregon State)
Well we don't have Suriano vs Lee but we have a pretty good one anyway. Suriano held off a very game Sebastian Rivera to make the finals, and Bresser shocked the wrestling community by handing Spencer Lee a two point defeat. Bresser does a little fancy stepping to kick off the match. Bresser then digs two under hooks but no scores. And the period ends with hand fighting but no scores.
Suriano starts the second on bottom. He's out in two seconds to throw the first point on the board. The second period ends like the first. No takedowns but serious hand fighting.
Bresser will start the final frame underneath. Suriano brings Bresser back down and flattens him out. He needs about 20 more seconds to get RT. Bresser his a switch, seemingly from his belly, and gets out before RT climbs over a minute. They're on their feet in a tie score. Suriano in on a shot, Bresser defending. They're on the edge and go out of bounds. And they hit Bresser for fleeing and give Suriano a point! It's 2-1 with under 30 seconds to go. Bresser forces a stall call but it's Suriano's first. That's it, no OT, its a victory for the Scarlet Knights and Nick Suriano!
Seth Gross (South Dakota State) vs Bryan Lantry (Buffalo)
Lantry squeaked his way into the finals whereas Gross won by tech fall in the semis. Gross goes to work in a hurry and gets a takedown on his first shot. A two on one tilt for Gross makes it 6-0 after only a minute of wrestling. This one could be ending early. Another tilt makes it 10-0. They're in a scramble as Gross may have been thinking spladle. But instead Gross ends up with a pinfall! He was going to win that one way or another. Dominating performance by Seth Gross and the South Dakota State Jackrabbits get their first ever Midlands champ in school history!
Mason Smith (Central Michigan) vs Cole Weaver (Indiana)
We're down to our final 3 weights as Smith and Weaver shake hands and start wrestling. Weaver has the #9 ranked wrestlers leg in the air and nearly finished. But Smith fights out of it and gets two of his own. Great counter wrestling and the praying mantis sized Smith has Weaver wrapped up on top. No more scores in this period.
Weaver on top now in the second. Weaver with some smothering top game of his own. He's wiped out Smith's RT and then some. Smith escapes in short time though and has a 3-0 leading going into the third.
They start the final frame in neutral. Weaver in on a shot, but Smith counters with the jonsie tilt he almost hit in the first period. He takes a five point lead with a minute left in the match. Smith finishes the match on top, and the Chippewas have a champ!
Brandon Sorensen (Iowa) vs Justin Oliver (Central Michigan)
Sorensen has a 3rd, 2nd and 4th place NCAA finish to his name. Oliver has a 7th and a bloodround finish. Sorensen is ranked #2 and Oliver #3 nationally at the moment. And out penultimate Midlands finals match is under way. Hand fighting but no scores. 0-0 after 3 minutes.
Sorensen defers and Oliver chooses down. Sorensen rides for over a minute now. Oliver escapes with 16 seconds left on the clock. He wants to win the Chippewas their second Midlands title. Sorensen trying to make it 4 four 4 for the Hawkeyes.
Sorensen chooses down and Oliver goes optional start. Oliver wants to win this on his feet. He won't do it by picking up a stalling call. Less than a minute to go now. A strong double leg by Sorensen should ice it. He's up by 2 in short time. Oliver gets the scape but it's academic. An RT point makes it a 4-2 victory for Sorensen and the Hawkeyes stay perfect in the 55th Midlands finals!
Michael Kemerer (Iowa) vs Joshua Shields (Arizona State)
Our final bout is under way! Two Franklin Regional High School teammates. Former Young Guns club members as well. Kemerer drives Shields out of bounds and Shields gets dinged for stalling. Kemerer muscles in for another shot and converts. He leads 2-0 half way through the 1st. Shields escapes after 15 seconds and they're in collar ties. Kem in on a single and starts working his way up. Shields able to whizzer defend to keep it 2-1 as time runds out in the 1st.
The #7 ranked wrestler Shields starts the 2nd on bottom. The #2 ranked Kemerer is on top. Kemerer rides over over half the 2nd period so far. Shields manages to escapes and ties the score 2-2. The period ends and it's tied but Kemerer has almost 2 minutes of RT.
Kemerer starts the 3rd and final period of the finals on bottom. Kemerer hits a switch and Sheilds drops to a leg. The ref counts to 5 and hits Shields with his second stall call. Kemerer now leads 3-2. Shields decides now to cut Kemerer so it's 4-2, with RT locked up and a minute to go. We're down to the final 27 seconds as we pause for blood on Kemerer's forehead. Shields can't break through Kemerer's defenses and Iowa goes a perfect 5 for 5 in the Midlands finals. The Hawkeyes are team champs once again!
Jon Schleifer (Princeton) vs Alex Marinelli (Iowa)
Marinelli toes the line sporting a large brace on his left knee. They're in collar ties. Marinelli was able to move Richie Lewis around on the mat but Schleifer is a pretty big guy and just handled Anthony Valencia in the semis. Marinelli gets in on a single but Schleifer fights his leg free. Good defense from the Princetonian. Fierce hand fighting but no scores to end the first.
Marinelli starts the second underneath. He gets up and out in under 10 seconds. Schleifer gets in on a low single but Marinelli kicks frees to avoid the takedown. Schleifer again gets a single, gets it up in the air but Marinelli is so tough, wrestles the position to a stalemate. Marinelli with a 1-0 lead. That's how the period will end.
Schleifer's turn on bottom. He gets out quickly and we're tied. RT not a factor, no stall warnings. We're down to the final 30 seconds. Schleifer close to a TD at the edge but no score and no stalls. Pause for blood time and we'll go back to the center with 20 seconds left. A sneaky footsweep with less than 10 seconds almost gave Marinelli the victory but no score. We head to overtime!
Under constant pressure from Marinelli they go out of bounds and now Schleifer gets hit with a stall. After the restart Marinelli stops an attack and hits a go behind. He gets two in sudden victory and the Hawkeyes get the first champ of the 55th Midlands!
Zahid Valencia (Arizona State) vs David Kocer (South Dakota State)
Zahid has been unstoppable all tournament. We'll see if Kocer can slow him down. Valencia gets to Kocer's ankles and gets the first takedown in under 30 seconds. He releases Kocer and goes right back on the attack. He gets a go behind for 2 more. Now Zahid goes to work on top. Had a cradle and gave it up. Locks up another one and rolls through. Can't hold Kocer down and they go out of bounds with about a minute left, Zahid still on top, 4-1. Zahd cuts Kocer, fakes one way and disappears the other way for two. I can hardly keep up and it's 10-3. I'm told it was a snap down, go behind, turk leg and jacob's arm bar. OK Mike Mal if you say so!
Finally the period ends and Zahid starts the second on bottom. He's out in 2 ceconds and it's 11-3. Constant attacks and re-attacks and it's two more, 13-3. Kocer escapes and we're back in the flurry of Zahid attacks. Kocer fends them off and now is in on his own shot. He's holding on for dear life and the period ends, 13-4 Valencia.
Kocer begins on bottom and Valencia looks for a cradle. Zahid has RT long locked up. He finally cuts Kocer and hits a freight train double for two. A quick cut and another double and it's 17-6. Now 17-7 after the optional start. The outcome was hardly ever in doubt, just the score, and it's 18-7 after the riding time point, Zahid Valencia is your 174 pound Midlands champ!
Nate Jackson (Princeton Wrestling Club) vs Emery Parker (Illinois)
Jackson is are only post grad in the finals. He's got Parker, who gritted out a victory over Nick Gravina in the semis. Jackson, a former All-American for Indiana, is now wrestling for the Princeton Wrestling Club. Parker is a junior for the Fighting Illini. A minute in and nothing but an almost fireman's carry for Parker. There's a flurry, Jackson fought off Parker's attack for about 30 seconds but finally gives up 2 on the edge with about 20 seconds left in the period. Jackson gets a clutch escape in short time and they go to the second, Parker with a 2-1 lead.
Parker starts on bottom and is up quickly. It's 3-1 and they're fighting in neutral. Lots of hand fighting, and now Parker snaps and goes behind after a half shot from Jackson. It's 5-1 as the period ends.
Jackson starts on bottom and escapes to make it 5-2. Parer muscles another go behind and extends his lead to 7-2. He's in control on top. Parker with a solid win, he takes out the two-time AA Nate Jackson. Illinois has a champ at 184!
Frank Mattiace (Penn) vs Cash Wilcke (Iowa)
Wilcke took out his teammate, redshirting true frosh Jacob Warner to get here. Mattiace took out the #1 seed Nate Rotert to get here. A minute hand fighting but no scores yet in the 1st. Good attacks and re-attacks in the next minute but still no score. More movement but the period ends 0-0.
Wilcke goes underneath in the 2nd. Wilcke escapes and throws the first point on the board. The light heavies wrestle around the mat but we don't get any scores or stalls. The period ends 1-0 for Wilcke.
Mattiace gets a turn to earn an escape point now. He's out and ties the score with exactly zero seconds of riding time. Wilcke drives Mattiace out of bounds but no points and no stalls. The period ends and we get bonus wrestling!
Wilcke gets a low single and shelfs it. A TD early in the second makes Wilcke the second Midlands champ for Iowa today!
Tanner Hall (Arizona State) vs Sam Stoll (Iowa)
The big boys tow the line. Stoll will try to be the Hawkeye champ while Hall will try to be the second for the Sun Devils. Two minutes of pushing but no scores in a cautious and tactical heavyweight final. The period ends with no scores or stall calls.
Stoll defers and Hall chooses bottom. He gets out in five seconds and draws first blood. It's hand fighting and more tactically sound heavyweight wrestling to close out the second period, 1-0 Hall in the lead.
Stoll now gets a turn on bottom. Stoll stands and Hall looks like he gets away with a singlet grab as they go out of bounds with no change in position. Stoll stands again and gets one right on the edge. Hall doesn't like it though and complains about Stoll grabbing a pinky. Now the refs ding Hall for unsportsmanlike and it's 2-1 Hall. Zeke doesn't like it but the call stands. They're in neutral with a minute left. Hall trying to push they action. Stoll gets dinged for stalling. Hall shoots. Stoll sprawls, he flattens Hall and thats how it ends. Stoll wins 2-1 and the Hawkeyes gets their third champ in as many tries!
55th Midlands Champions
125: Nick Suriano, Rutgers
133: Seth Gross, South Dakota State
141: Mason Smith, Central Michigan
149: Brandon Sorensen, Iowa
157: Michael Kemerer, Iowa
165: Alex Marinelli, Iowa
174: Zahid Valencia, Arizona State
184: Emery Parker, Illiinois
197: Cash Wilcke, Iowa
285: Sam Stoll, Iowa
Thanks for being here with us for the 55th Midlands finals everyone. You are the best wrestling fans in the world! Apologies of the typos, see you all at the Southern Scuffle and happy new year!