Nebraska’s TJ Dudley finishes third at NCAA championships

Nebraska’s TJ Dudley finishes third at NCAA championships

ST. LOUIS — TJ Dudley finished with an emphatic pin in his final collegiate match, part of a strong finish by Nebraska.

Dudley won his last four matches to place third at 184 pounds while teammates Tyler Berger (157) and Aaron Studebaker (197) also won their final matches to place fifth during the last day of the NCAA championships at Scottrade Center.

Another Husker, Eric Montoya, finished sixth at 133 pounds. It was the first time since 2009 that NU came home with four All-Americans.

Nebraska was ninth in the team race — its third straight top-10 finish at nationals. Penn State repeated as team champion, followed by Ohio State, Oklahoma State and Iowa. Penn State had five of the 10 individual champions and won by 36.5 points.

Iowa had a champion in senior Cory Clark at 133 pounds. Clark trailed Seth Gross of South Dakota State 3-2 in the third period before getting the decisive takedown with 1:24 left for a 4-3 win.

The four-time All-American won his first NCAA title.

“Did I ever think it was going to get done? I thought if it wouldn’t have got done it would have been a disaster because that was my goal as a senior in high school,” Clark said in a release. “I always set high goals. I always said four-time NCAA champ was my goal. I didn’t really tell anybody that, but that was my goal.”

Three other Hawkeyes, Thomas Gilman (125), Brandon Sorensen (149) and Michael Kemerer (157), went 2-0 Saturday to take third in their weight classes.

Gilman, a four-time Nebraska state champion at Omaha Skutt, finished in the top four at nationals the past three years. This time, the senior was 30-0 before losing in overtime to eventual champion Darian Cruz of Lehigh in Friday’s semifinals.

Gilman rebounded Saturday with a 5-2 win over second-seeded Joey Dance of Virginia Tech and a 13-6 decision over Oklahoma State’s Nick Piccininni.

“I came here on a mission to be a national champion, but sometimes you get blown off course,” Gilman said. “You get dropped off somewhere else and you fight your way back. I never aborted the mission. The mission just kind of changed a little bit.”

Dudley, the national runner-up last year, also rebounded after having his title hopes dashed in the quarterfinals. Dudley lost to Penn State’s Bo Nickal, who went on to defeat Cornell’s Gabe Dean in the finals. Dean defeated Dudley in last year’s final.

After winning twice Friday, the seventh-seeded Dudley took out fourth-seeded Nolan Boyd of Oklahoma State 15-8 in his first match Saturday. Then in the third-place match, Dudley was in a scoreless tie with No. 3 seed Sammy Brooks of Iowa. But with about 30 seconds left in the first period, Dudley took down Brooks and within the next 10 seconds was able to end the match with a pin.

Studebaker, the seventh seed at 197, finished with a 9-0 major decision over sixth-seeded Preston Weigel of Oklahoma State. Studebaker broke a scoreless tie with a reversal in the second period and built on his lead from there.

The Raymond Central graduate became an All-American for the first time. Studebaker had finished one win away from All-America status the previous two years.

Berger, who went 24-13 as a freshman last year, led Nebraska in wins this season with 36. His final one came in the 157 fifth-place match as he had a four-minute advantage in riding time in a 6-3 win over Cornell’s Dylan Palacio. Berger had lost earlier Saturday to Kemerer — three of Berger’s six losses this season were to the Iowa freshman.

Montoya became an All-American for the second straight year as he placed sixth. He lost to the Nos. 1 and 3 seeds on Saturday to finish with a 30-7 record.

Five of the national champions finished their seasons unbeaten — Penn State’s Zain Retherford (149) and Jason Nolf (157), Oklahoma State’s Dean Heil (141), Missouri’s J’den Cox (197) and Ohio State heavyweight Kyle Snyder.

Two of Penn State’s champions, Vincenzo Joseph (165) and Nickal (184), also defeated unbeaten opponents in the finals.

Team scores (top 15)

Penn State 146.5, Ohio State 110, Oklahoma State 103, Iowa 97, Missouri 86.5, Virginia Tech 63.5, Minnesota 62.5, Cornell 60.5, Nebraska 59.5, Michigan 47.5, Illinois 43.5. Lehigh 40, Wisconsin 39.5, Arizona State 39, Virginia 29.5.

Championship matches

125: Darian Cruz, Lehigh dec. Ethan Lizak, Minnesota, 6-3. 133: Cory Clark, Iowa dec. Seth Gross, South Dakota State, 4-3. 141: Dean Heil, Oklahoma State dec. George DiCamillo, Virginia, 6-3. 149: Zain Retherford, Penn State tech. fall Lavion Mayes, Missouri, 18-2. 157: Jason Nolf, Penn State major dec. Joey Lavallee, Missouri, 14-6. 165: Vincenzo Joseph, Penn State pinned Isaiah Martinez, Illinois, 5:26. 174: Mark Hall, Penn State dec. Bo Jordan, Ohio State, 5-2. 184: Bo Nickal, Penn State dec. Gabe Dean, Cornell, 4-3. 197: J’den Cox, Missouri dec. Brett Pfarr, Minnesota, 8-2. 285: Kyle Snyder, Ohio State dec. Connor Medbery, Wisconsin, 6-3.

Nebraska’s Saturday results

133: Eric Montoya lost to Nathan Tomasello, Ohio State, 4-1; lost to Kaid Brock, Oklahoma State, 5-3. 157: Tyler Berger lost to Michael Kemerer, Iowa, 10-1; dec. Dylan Palacio, Cornell, 6-3. 184: TJ Dudley dec. Nolan Boyd, Oklahoma State, 15-8; pinned Sammy Brooks, Iowa, 2:38. 197: Aaron Studebaker lost to Kollin Moore, Ohio State, 8-4; major dec. Preston Weigel, Oklahoma State, 9-0.

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