OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. —From the beginning of the NCAA Division I wrestling championships to the end, University of Iowa senior Tony Ramos was a man with a plan.
The first phase was simple, win five matches and become Iowa's 53rd national champion. The other ... it was pretty sweet.
Ramos completed plan one Saturday night with his 3-1 tiebreaker win over Wisconsin's Tyler Graff as he captured the 133-pound national title at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
As soon as his hand was raised, plan two went into full effect as Ramos sprinted off the stage and directly to the stands where he leaped mosh-pit style into a mob of friends and family.
"Oh yeah," Ramos said if the leap into the stands was planned. "You always have something planned. They're the closest people to me other than the wrestling team, Tom and Terry (Brands), the other coaches, and I wanted to see them as quick as I could.
"It's awesome. I'm excited."
A Hawkeye favorite since the time he cracked Iowa's lineup as a sophomore, the Carol Stream, Ill., native had twice fallen short of a national championship, finishing third as a sophomore and losing to Ohio State's Logan Stieber in the 133-pound finals a year ago.
Known for his explosive style, Ramos was tactical and smart for three days while winning a series of close matches, and he was that way again against Graff, whom he was 3-1 against all-time, including a 2-1 win over the Badger senior in this year's Big Ten finals.
The finals match was close, as well, as he and Graff stalked and prowled for eight minutes before going to tiebreakers. After Graff rode Ramos out in the first 30-second tiebreaker, it was Ramos' turn to ride and he was ready for Graff's plan of attack to get out.
When Graff tried to granby out, Ramos caught him briefly on his back and got a two-count and was rewarded two near fall points with 11 seconds left.
"I knew he liked to roll," Ramos said. "As soon as he hit that roll, I was just finding some way to score. I caught that arm and I was like, you know, if I just fall back a little bit I'm going to get a quick count.
"That's why you don't roll. For young kids, never roll. Solid wrestling always wins."
An elated Hawkeye head coach Tom Brands carried Ramos on his shoulders from the exit of the interview room all the way to Iowa's locker room.
"I kept saying he is the king and I had to go back in there and get the king's hat," Brands said while wearing an NCAA championship hat Ramos' brothers made for him.
Penn State captured its fourth consecutive NCAA team title by a narrow margin over Minnesota, 109.5-104. The Golden Gophers led the Nittany Lions, 104-101.5 heading into the finals with each team having two finalists.
The difference was PSU's two finalists -- Ed Ruth and David Taylor -- won and Minnesota's two-time NCAA champion Tony Nelson and Dylan Ness lost.
Ruth became a three-time champion with his win at 184, and Taylor, a four-time finalist, won his second title, beating Tyler Caldwell of Oklahoma State, 6-0. Ruth beat Maryland's Jimmy Sheptock, 7-2.
Iowa finished fourth with 78.5 points and six All-Americans with Cory Clark taking fifth at 125, Derek St. John fifth at 157, Mike Evans sixth at 174, Nathan Burak eighth at 197 and Bobby Telford fourth at heavyweight.
For St. John, the defending champion at 157, it was his fourth All-American performance, making him the 18th four-time All-American in program history.
“I came (to this tournament) for a purpose, and placing the lowest you’ve placed in four years kind of stings,” said St. John, who finished fourth as a freshman, second as a sophomore, in addition to first as a junior. “There’s been a lot of big matches and a lot of accomplishments, but you have to come ready to go and you need to be ready to go every match. It’s a get what you deserve kind of thing, I guess.”
The Hawkeyes graduate St. John along with Nick Moore and Ethen Lofthouse, but return seven starters plus several second-team wrestlers -- Thomas Gilman, Brandon Sorensen and Sammy Brooks.
"We do like some of the guys who weren't here," Brands said. "We have some potential but ... we have to evaluate what the program stands for. We've just got to step back and evaluate. I don't think you go to work on it tomorrow or today, you go to work on it up here, too (pointing to head), but we have to build and there are some hungry young guys in that room."
Iowa State finished just out of the Top 10 for the second year in a row with 42 points, tying Northwestern.
The Cyclones had three All-Americans, Earl Hall (eighth at 125), Michael Moreno (fifth at 165) and Waterloo native Kyven Gadson (fourth at 197).
For Moreno and Gadson, each are now two-time All-Americans.
Gadson's Saturday started with a 3-minute, 24-second fall over Chris Penny of Virginia Tech, before he lost to Minnesota's Scott Schiller for the second time in the tournament and fifth time in his career, 9-6, in the third-place match.
"You take the positives and look at the negatives and you go from those," Gadson said of what he takes from the tournament. "You take the positives and really try to keep building on those, but at the same time take a look at the negatives, a deeper look at them and grow form it."
Among the negatives, Gadson said he needs to return to the offensive-minded wrestler he was in high school.
"I've gotten away from what I was natural at and became more of a defensive wrestler," he said.
"If the real Kyven Gadson shows up then everybody is in trouble," added ISU head coach Kevin Jackson. "We have to get that guy to show up."
©2014 Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier (Waterloo, Iowa)
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