COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa – If there’s to be a sweep of Iowa and Iowa State champions at tonight’s World Team Trials, it’s not going to come easy.
We’ll got the match-ups most thought we would in tonight’s best-of-three championships. The No. 1 seeds in the challenge tournament advanced at 132 and 163 pounds. At 211.5, Olympian and 2006 World Team member Andy Hrovat battled through the field and will challenge Iowa State’s Jake Varner for a spot on the U.S. team.
Former Iowa star Mike Zadick and Travis Paulson of Iowa State, like Varner, earned the right to skip Saturday’s challenge tournament at 132 and 163, respectively.
Zadick faces Shawn Bunch in a rematch of last month’s National Open in Las Vegas.
Paulson takes on former Minnesota All-American Dustin Schletter. Schletter beat Ryan Churella in the challenge tournament finals, 2-0, 1-0.
Varner, a three-time NCAA finalist, lost to Hrovat twice last year at the 185 pound weight class. Hrovat wrestled at Michigan and in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Varner won the U.S. title in Vegas without surrendering a point.
“Jake is capable of beating everyone, and I think he should beat everyone,” ISU Coach Kevin Jackson said. “If he wrestles eight minutes of quality wrestling he makes the World Team. I believe he’s going to get it done.”
Other Iowa and Iowa State wrestlers had a tough afternoon.
ISU’s Nick Gallick won his first match at 132 pounds, then was dominated by former U.S. Nationals runner-up Shawn Bunch, 1-0, 6-0, and pinned by Reece Humphrey in his consolation match.
Cyclone Jon Reader also took his opening match, then was sent to the other side of the 163-pound bracket after a 5-2, 5-2 loss to Churella of the New York Athletic Club.
Reader rallied for a 2-5, 2-1, 3-1 win in the consolation semifinals over Andrew Howe.
Jackson, Nate Gallick and Chris Bono each had spots in their corner during their bouts.
“It was a tough match for both of them, but right now Shawn Bunch and Ryan Churella are better,” Jackson said. “They are senior-level wrestlers.”
“It allowed me to see these guys in competition and understand what their areas of concentration are and what we need to work on. They are disappointed. This tournament puts us ahead of schedule I think.”
UNI’s Moza Fay lost, won and fell to Andrew Howe in the 163-pound consolation semifinals. Howe meets Reader tonight in the third-place match.
Iowa’s Daniel Dennis lost to Bunch, beat Drew Headlee, 7-0, 1-3, 6-3, then was pinned by Lehigh’s Matt Valenti.