Tom Snee, Office of Strategic Communication, 319-384-0010 (office), 319-541-8434 (cell)
University of Iowa wrestler Derek St. John became the 52nd national champion in program history following a 3-2 decision over Northwestern’s Jason Welch in the finals of the 2013 NCAA Championships.
St. John, a three-time All-American and 2012 NCAA runner-up, put together five straight wins to climb to the top of the 157-pound bracket and claim his first career national crown.
“It’s unbelievable. It’s awesome,” said St. John. “It’s what I’ve been working toward the last four years, and I finally, finally got it. It’s unbelievable. It’s just unbelievable.”
After a scoreless first period, St. John piled up two minutes of riding time by riding Welch out in the second frame. He started down in the third period, and was awarded the first point of the match when Welch was called for locked hands. He extended his lead to 2-0 with an escape 48 seconds into the final period, but Welch tied it up, 2-2, after catching St. John with a reshot on the edge of the mat. St. John then scored the deciding point by escaping with 37 seconds left in the match.
“That’s just part of the game,” St. John says about staying calm in the final period. “You’ve got to stay cool as a cucumber. When I went to my back there, good burst of energy on his part and he caught me off guard a little bit. Just keep wrestling. Don’t bail just because you’re getting in a little bit of trouble.”
St. John’s title was the 80th individual NCAA wrestling championship in school history.
The Hawkeyes also earned a runner-up finish at 133 pounds, when Tony Ramos fell to Ohio State’s Logan Stieber in the final. Ramos’ runner-up finish marked his second consecutive All-America honor. He placed third in 2012 and finished this season with a 31-2 record.
“It’s a step better,” said Ramos. “But it’s also a step worse. I finished my season with a loss. I’d rather go out with a win.”
Iowa finished fourth in the team race with 73 points. Penn State won its third straight NCAA title with 123.5 points. Oklahoma State (119.5) and Minnesota (103) finished second and third, respectively.
Iowa closes the 2012-13 season with a Big Ten dual title, four All-Americans and one national champion.