Eight Iowa wrestlers advance

OMAHA, Neb. -- Iowa started a methodical march toward a third straight national title at the NCAA championships Thursday night.

The Hawkeyes advanced eight of their 10 wrestlers to the quarterfinals and finished the meet's first day with 34.5 points. Oklahoma State was second with 26 points and Iowa State third with 24.

"We've got to keep a good thing going," Iowa coach Tom Brands said.

Iowa's quarterfinalists are No. 2 seeds Daniel Dennis (133), Brent Metcalf (149) and Jay Borschel (174); No. 3 Matt McDonough (125), No. 5 Daniel Erekson (heavyweight), No. 6 Montell Marion (141), No. 7 Ryan Morningstar (165) and No. 9 Phillip Keddy (184).

"We've still got a lot of work to do," Brands said. "For the most part I feel like we wrestled better tonight than we did this morning. I explained this morning that we were maybe looking out at the other guy a little too much. Tonight it seemed like we were attacking from the get-go a little bit better."

Iowa's only losses were by unseeded 157-pounder Jake Kerr, to Harvard's top-seeded J.P. O'Connor in the second round, and by No. 9 Chad Beatty, to Oklahoma State's Alan Gelogaev in the first round.

The Hawks are bidding for their 23rd title in the tournament's 80-year history.

"It's very important to us," said Morningstar, a senior who's competing on a bad right knee. "We've won two of them in my class, and we want to go out and get this third one and end our careers on a high note."

While Iowa did the expected, a little-known sophomore from Boston University pulled the upset of the day. Unseeded Fred Santaite scored a takedown in the final seconds to beat 125-pound defending champion Troy Nickerson of Cornell 2-1 in the second round.

Santaite overcame a broken right ankle two years ago and major surgery on his left knee last year. He was wrestling Nickerson for the first time. Down 1-0, he made his winning move out of desperation after looking at the clock and seeing 13 seconds left.

"I got put in a front headlock, and I was getting a little nervous, but I stuck in there and I just went for it," he said. "When I got in position where I knew I was going to get 2 [points], I looked at the clock and there was like 2 and 1, and it was just awesome."

Santaite started the season as a 125-pounder, moved to 133 and then returned to 125 the final weekend of the dual season. He was 9-3 at 125.

"I feel like I've been progressing better and better," Santaite said. "It was a little bit of an off year. I've had some bad matches, but I'm coming on good."

Big 12 champion Oklahoma State sent five wrestlers to the quarterfinals -- No. 2 seeds Jamal Parks (141) and Jarod Rosholt (heavyweight), No. 4 Jordan Oliver (133), No. 5 Clayton Foster (184) and No. 6 Mike Benefiel (174).

Ohio State's Lance Palmer and Iowa's Metcalf stayed on course for a highly anticipated rematch at 149.

Palmer, who upset the previously unbeaten Metcalf at the Big Ten tournament to earn the No. 1 seed, decisioned Ohio University's Seth Morton and pinned Purdue's Nicholas Bertucci. Metcalf, the 2008 champ and 2009 runner-up, posted major decisions over Northern Iowa's Trenton Washington and American University's Kyle Borshoff.

The seventh-seeded Morningstar is considered a key to the Hawks' title hopes. His right leg wrapped from thigh to ankle after an injury to his knee in the Big Ten tournament, Morningstar gutted out two victories at 165. He went overtime to win 4-2 over West Virginia's Donald Jones in the morning and beat Oklahoma State's Alex Meade 3-1 at night.

Morningstar (28-6) moved to a quarterfinal against defending champion Jarrod King (36-1) of Edinboro.

"These last two matches were big tests for me," Morningstar said. "I've got a pretty good idea of what King does from watching film. He's good at what he does."

The Cyclones' Jake Varner and Nebraska's Craig Brester are on a collision course for a finals rematch at 197, with both posting easy victories.

All 10 of the wrestlers who came to nationals unbeaten remained that way heading into the quarters. Boise State 174-pounder Kirk Smith and Duke heavyweight Konrad Dudziak had the closest calls. Smith won a 4-3 decision over Iowa State's Jerome Ward in the first round and Dudziak beat Nebraska's Tucker Lane 4-3 in the second round.