CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – The University of Iowa wrestling team had two question marks in the lineup, coming into the postseason.
Ethen Lofthouse, a 2012 All-American, provided a bit of an answer at 184 pounds.
Lofthouse earned the starting position over former All-American Grant Gambrall by winning a wrestle-off and then placed third at the Big Ten Wrestling Championships on Sunday at the University of Illinois’ Assembly Hall. He sealed the performance with an 8-1 win over Nebraska’s eighth-ranked Josh Ihnen, 8-1.
His performance at the conference tournament was a better representation of his ability, but he still has more to prove.
“Third place isn’t where I want to be and isn’t where I think I am,” said Lofthouse, who improved to 17-7. “There is still room for improvement. It’s a better example, but I think I have more.”
He moved up to 184 after placing seventh at the national tournament last year at 174. Gambrall dropped to 174 this season, but split time with a straining Lofthouse at 184 after Mike Evans took over at 174.
“I had a little time I struggled during the season,” Lofthouse said. “I’m trying to get back to the point where I need to be.”
Lofthouse entered the tournament seeded fifth, placing above it. He went 3-1, posting a fall in a key stretch in Sunday’s consolation bracket where Iowa won five straight matches and pulled within a half-point of the team lead.
Iowa Coach Tom Brands said Lofthouse needed to finish the final match with a major, but called Lofthouse’s showing good.
“He wrestled smarter, especially the last match,” Brands said. “We just have to keep it moving forward.”
BIG TEN HONOR ROLL
The Big Ten announced its honor roll after the conference tournament Sunday at University of Illinois’ Assembly Hall.
Penn State’s Ed Ruth claimed the 184-pound Big Ten title, improving to 28-0 this season and garnering Big Ten Wrestler of the Year honors. He was one of four Nittany Lions champions.
Illinois sophomore Jesse Delgado (20-3) beat Iowa’s top-seeded Matt McDonough, 10-4, in the finals and was named the Big Ten Championships Outstanding Wrestler. He also beat second-seeded Nico Megaludis, of Penn State, 6-3, in the semifinals Saturday to reach the championship.
Wisconsin heavyweight Connor Medbery placed fourth and is 24-6 this year. He was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year for Badgers Coach Barry Davis.
After finishing in the top two spots of the team race for the second straight year, Penn State’s Cael Sanderson and Minnesota’s J Robinson were named Big Ten co-Coaches of the Year.
The 2014 Big Ten Wrestling Championships will be hosted by the University of Wisconsin. The Badgers head coach is a familiar face to Iowa fans.Wisconsin head coach Barry Davis was a three-time state champion for Cedar Rapids Prairie and a three-time NCAA champion and four-time All-American for the Hawkeyes.