Gomez Wins Overtime Thriller To Earn Second Big Ten Title
March 8, 2009
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Michigan State junior Franklin Gomez survived a gut-wrenching overtime match to earn his second Big Ten Championship in a row in the 133-pound weight class on Sunday afternoon (March 8) at the Bryce Jordan Center. Gomez defeated fifth-seeded Reece Humphrey of Ohio State, 7-4, to clinch the title. Gomez went 4-0 on the tournament, taking out two top-10 wrestlers on the way.
Gomez is the first MSU wrestler to win consecutive Big Ten titles since Nick Simmons won three in a row from 2005-07 and becomes only the 16th Spartan in program history to win back-to-back Big Ten titles.
"(Winning his second Big Ten Championship) feels great, especially since I've been improving," said Gomez. "As the season goes along, I feel like I've been improving even more. It also helps me know where I'm at in terms of my competition."
Humphrey took the early 2-0 lead in the first period after a takedown two minutes into the match. Gomez responded with an escape 15 seconds later, cutting the lead in half. Gomez notched a takedown and Humphrey escaped as the period ended to tie the match at 3. The two exchanged escapes in the second and third periods to leave the score deadlocked at 4-4, forcing overtime.
With no scoring in the first round of sudden victory, the match entered a tiebreaker stage. In the first round, Gomez kept Humphrey under control without allowing him to score. Gomez then recorded an escape and a takedown in the second round to seal the victory and the title.
"It's not just two in a row, it's two in a row at the toughest weight class in the Big Ten," said MSU head coach Tom Minkel. "The third and fifth-place matches could be NCAA title matches. That group is just loaded."
Eric Olanowski, David Cheza and Anthony Jones Jr. won seventh-place matches at 125, 149 and 157 pounds, respectively. With their wins, Olanowski and Jones both clinched automatic berths to the NCAA Championships.
"It's really satisfying to have your young kids be able to perform and get to the next level," said Minkel. "To be able to do this while you're young is really a great opportunity for both of them."
Olanowski used a late takedown and over two minutes of riding advantage to propel him to the 3-0 decision over Wisconsin's Drew Hammen. Olanowski entered the tournament unseeded.
It took Cheza two rounds of sudden victory, but an escape with less than 20 seconds remaining in the first SV clinched a 5-4 victory over Illinois' eighth-seeded Eric Terrazas. Cheza was also unseeded entering the tournament.
Jones pinned Penn State's Tim Darling in 2:31 to take seventh. Jones racked up two takedowns and six near-fall points in the first period before recording his fourth fall of the season. The win gives him 24, which leads the team.
MSU 174-pounder Ian Hinton earned an eighth-place finish after losing a tough seventh-place match, 3-2, to Minnesota's Matthew Everson.
The Spartans will be back in action on March 19-21 when they travel to St. Louis, Mo., to compete in the 2009 NCAA Championships.
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