DES MOINES — Any disappointment Nebraska’s Robert Kokesh felt from Friday night’s overtime loss in the semifinals was eased with a pair of vindicating victories Saturday.
Kokesh defeated two opponents against whom he was 0-5 previously to earn third place in the 174-pound weight class at the NCAA wrestling championships.
Penn State, which got finals wins from Ed Ruth (184) and Quentin Wright (197), won its third straight team title with 123.5 points, four more than Oklahoma State. Minnesota was third with 103, followed by Iowa with 73. NU was 13th with 38 points.
Kokesh, a sophomore from Wagner, S.D., who entered nationals as the fourth seed, first defeated third-seeded Mike Evans of Iowa 3-2 on Saturday, and then got a 3-1 overtime win over sixth-seeded Logan Storley of Minnesota.
In the third-place match, Kokesh earned an escape in the second period and Storley matched it in the third period. They headed to sudden victory, where Kokesh got a takedown for the win.
“He wrestled two complete matches against two quality opponents,” Nebraska coach Mark Manning said.
Before Saturday, Evans had beaten Kokesh in their first three meetings the past two seasons, while Storley earned a 3-1 win over Kokesh in a dual last November. Storley and Kokesh also met once in high school as seniors — Storley won that match 3-2.
“It was great to get those wins,” Kokesh said. “It was kind of bittersweet because I wanted to be in the finals against (Penn State’s Matt) Brown. But I fought hard, and it was nice to avenge those losses.”
Kokesh’s championship hopes were dashed Friday when top-seeded Chris Perry of Oklahoma State got a takedown in overtime for a 4-2 decision. Perry went on to win the title, edging Brown 2-1 in the final.
Kokesh said he couldn’t let Friday’s result affect him Saturday morning.
“It was tough, but coach told me after the match that I could still score points on the back side (of the bracket) and that was my goal,” Kokesh said.
Kokesh achieved All-America honors for the first time in his career and finished the season with a 38-4 record. The 38 wins put him in a tie for seventh on Nebraska’s single-season wins list with Brad Vering (1999-00), Bill Scherr (1982-83) and Tolly Thompson (1993-94).
“I feel like I progressed as a wrestler and a competitor this year,” said Kokesh, who failed to place at nationals last season. “Next season I hope I can start where I left off.”
Teammate James Green, Nebraska’s other All-American from this year’s nationals, can say the same thing.
The No. 4 seed at 157 pounds, Green lost his first-round match Thursday. But he went 5-1 the rest of the way and finished his tournament with a 14-4 major decision over Clarion’s James Fleming in the seventh-place match.
“Same thing as Robert. He had to come back after a loss,” Manning said of Green. “With that big upset, you know you have a long road ahead of you, and that’s not an easy thing to do. He dominated a lot of those matches on the back side and could have easily finished third.”
Green also finished seventh at nationals a year ago.
Iowa had a champion in junior Derek St. John.
St. John used a third-period escape with 35 seconds left to edge Northwestern’s Jason Welch 3-2 in the 157-pound final.
St. John has won all six career matchups against Welch, who entered nationals as the top seed. St. John led Saturday’s match 2-0 before Welch tied it with a third-period takedown. St. John then got an escape and held on for the win.
As a sophomore, St. John was runner-up at nationals and had beaten Welch 4-3 in the Big Ten championship final. They didn’t meet at this year’s Big Ten meet as Nebraska’s Green defeated St. John in the semifinals. Welch then pinned Green in the final.
Iowa’s Tony Ramos lost his 133-pound championship match 7-4 to Ohio State’s Logan Stieber.
Stieber scored two early takedowns to take a 4-1 lead after one period. Ramos got a takedown in the second period to pull within 5-3, but he couldn’t get closer than that.
Iowa had two other All-Americans: Ethen Lofthouse (184) finished fifth and Mike Evans (174) was sixth.
Iowa State finished with three All-Americans. sophomores Michael Moreno (165) and Kyven Gadson (197) each finished in sixth place and senior heavyweight Matt Gibson was eighth.
Another highlight from the tournament was Cornell’s Kyle Dake, who became the first wrestler in NCAA history to win four national titles at four weights. Dake won the 165-pound class Saturday.
Consolation Bracket Semifinals: 174: Robert Kokesh, Neb, dec. Mike Evans, Iowa, 3-2.
Seventh Place Match: 157: James Green, Neb, major dec. James Fleming, Clarion, 14-4.
Third Place Match: 174: Kokesh dec. Logan Storley, Minnesota, 3-1 SV.
IOWA MEDAL-ROUND RESULTS
Championship Matches: 133: Logan Stieber, Ohio State, dec. Tony Ramos, Iowa, 7-4; 157: Derek St. John, Iowa, dec. Jason Welch, Northwestern, 3-2.
Fifth Place Matches: 174: Nick Heflin, Ohio State, pinned Mike Evans, Iowa, 2:10. 184: Ethen Lofthouse, Iowa, dec. Jimmy Sheptock, Maryland, 6-2.
IOWA ST. MEDAL-ROUND RESULTS
Fifth Place Matches: 165: Conrad Polz, Illinois, dec. Michael Moreno, ISU, 7-5. 197: Scott Schiller, Minnesota, dec. Kyven Gadson, ISU, 6-2.
Seventh Place Match: 285: Odie Delaney, Citadel, pinned Matt Gibson, ISU, 2:44.