Friday, February 17, 2012

Black is Back, Meeks on the Brink, Lucky 21 for ISU

By Chris Hassel

Megan Black did it again. A day after becoming the first girl to beat a boy in a contested match at the Iowa State Wrestling Meet, becomes the first girl to ever medal at the meet. After barley losing her quarterfinal round match, Black returned to win her first consolation match. That ensures that she will be on the medal stand, Saturday night.

Roosevelt's John Meeks is one win from making history of his own. The senior is 167-0, and a victory in tomorrow's finals from finishing his career unbeaten. Meeks would become only the sixth wrestler in Iowa history to finish his career unbeaten, with 4 state titles. His dad, Keith, told Zach Borg that it would be even more special to the Meeks family because John would become the first African-American to accomplish the feat --- and during Black History Month no less.

You have to feel for Cory Clark. The Southeast Polk wrestler is also one win from a 4th straight state title, but he isn't unbeaten. Clark lost earlier in the year to Iowa City West's Jack Hathaway, who Clark beat in the quarterfinals today. The senior says his regular season loss was probably a good thing in the long run. It's good to see Clark using such a tough defeat as a positive.

Northern Iowa got the short end of the stick on some calls down the stretch at VCU. I've never seen Ben Jacobson so upset. If the Panthers keep playing like they've been playing, lately, they'll be a tough out in the Valley Tournament. UNI needs to finish strong if it wants to nab an invite from the NIT.

The Cyclones have a couple ho-hum home games coming up. Saturday, ISU hosts 9th-place Oklahoma before hosting last-place Texas Tech on Wednesday. You can look at the games in one of two ways.
1 - Two easy wins which Iowa State desperately needs as it moves towards an NCAA tourney berth
2 - A no-win situation. These are games everyone expects Iowa State to win, and win big, and anything less than a blowout will be unacceptable. 

Unfortunately, I'm leaning towards number 2. I'm not excited in the least for these two games. The Cyclones need to win, and look good doing it. If they somehow drop of these games, their NCAA hopes may go by the wayside. Here's how I'm looking at the final few weeks of the season for ISU. I think the 'Clones will win these next two games, lose on the road at Kansas State and Missouri, and then beat Baylor at home in the regular season finale. If that happens, ISU is in the tournament no matter what happens in the Big 12 tourney.

However, even if the Cyclones win these next two games, I think they need one more win to guarantee a selection. The committee isn't going to be too fond of a team on a 4-game losing streak going into the post-season. Loses at K-State, Missouri, home to Baylor, and in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tourney would likely send the Cyclones to the NIT. Basically what Iowa State needs to do is get to 21 wins...somehow, some way. 21 wins in any fashion, against any of the remaining teams will get them in. But first things first --- they need to take care of biz in these two easy games at home.

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