Courtesy of Iowa State Athletic Communications OMAHA, Neb. – Iowa State senior wrestlers Jake Varner and David Zabriskie won NCAA Championship individual titles at 197 pounds and heavyweight, respectively Saturday to lead the Cyclones to a third-place national collegiate finish at the Qwest Center. Varner and Zabriskie leave grappling legacies that rank high in Iowa State’s storied program. Iowa won the team title 134.5 points. Cornell was second with 90 points. ISU was third with 75 points.
ISU crowned three All-Americans in total, with 125-pounder Andrew Long taking runner-up honors.
Varner’s victory cheer could be heard of the noise made by 15,000 spectators in attendance. The Cyclone four-time finalist let out a roar of jubilation after silencing Nebraska’s Craig Brester in the NCAA 197-pound finals by a score of 5-2. Varner improves to 6-1 against the Husker three-time All-American. Varner, a two-time champion at the weight, capped one of the most successful seasons and careers in ISU history with his perfect 31-0 season. The ISU standout was additionally a Midlands Championships and Big 12 Championship champion this season. The Bakersfield, Calif., finishes his career with 121-10 record, for a .923 career-winning percentage that is in the top-five in program history.
Zabriskie, Iowa State’s little big man, turned away Oklahoma State’s Jared Rosholt in the NCAA final at heavyweight by a score of 3-2. “Big Z”, the top-seed at the weight, turned away his larger, but familiar Cowboy opponent with the help of a takedown on edge of the mat in the second period. Zabriskie finishes his career with a 116-22 record.
Zabriskie is the first Cyclone to be an NCAA titlist at heavyweight since all-time great Chris Taylor in 1973. The Iowa State senior is the first three-time heavyweight All-American in school history. Zabriskie placed sixth, fifth and first over his last three seasons.
ISU’s Long had a storybook tournament at 125 pounds, but the Cyclone couldn’t secure the ending he wanted. Fifth-seeded Long went toe-to-toe with Iowa’s Matt McDonough, pressing the action throughout the bout, only to fall to the third-seeded Hawkeye by decision, 3-1. After a scoreless first period, Long surrendered a takedown to his Iowa foe after escaping from bottom and was never able to score his own offensive move. An escape for McDonough and several fruitless takedown attempts by Long in the third period brought about the final outcome.
The Iowa Stater advanced to the 125-pound final by stunning top-seed and previously unbeaten senior Angel Escobedo of Indiana with a decisive victory, 7-4.
The Creston, Iowa, native concludes his first campaign in an ISU singlet with a 27-7 record. Long went 4-1 in the NCAA Championships. The ISU wrestler also took runner-up honors at both the Midlands Championships and Big 12 Championship.
The Cyclones lost several All-America contenders in the consolation rounds of their respective weights, resulting in the lowest All-America honoree total (3) since 2006. Two-time All-American Jon Reader, a junior 165-pounder for ISU, drew within one match of an additional honor before bowing out of competition. Seniors Nick Fanthorpe (133) and Mitch Mueller (149) also fell in consolation action just one win shy of attaining All-America accolades.
NCAA Championships Finals
125 pounds – No. 3 Matt McDonough (Iowa) dec. No. 5 Andrew Long (ISU), 3-1 197 pounds – No. 1 Jake Varner (ISU) dec. No. 2 Craig Brester (Nebraska), 5-2 HWT – No. 1 David Zabriskie (ISU) dec. No. 2 Jared Rosholt (Oklahoma State), 3-2