Lincoln – Jordan Burroughs became the 10th national champion in Husker history by capturing the 157-pound title during Session VI to lead Nebraska to a fourth-place team finish at the 2009 NCAA Championships. With a fourth-place finish last season also, NU has claimed back-to-back top-five finishes in consecutive years for the first time. For the second season in a row, Iowa captured the team title with 96.5 points while Ohio State finished second (92) and Iowa State claimed third (84.5).
“It feels great to be a national champion,” Burroughs said. “It took three years, but I finally got it done. I’m just happy to be here and happy that my teammates and my family are able to be here and watch me.”
A junior from Sicklerville, N.J., Burroughs topped second-seeded Michael Poeta of Illinois in the final, 5-1. As usual, Burroughs was the aggressor in the first period, and earned a critical takedown with just two seconds left in the period. Burroughs escaped 10 seconds into the second to go up 3-0, but neither wrestler could score the rest of the period. Poeta escaped with 1:57 left in the third and turned up the intensity looking for an equalizing takedown, nearly catching Burroughs on several occasions in the final period. Another Burroughs’ takedown with two seconds left sealed the bout. He went 35-0 during 2008-09 to become the first Husker national champion ever to complete a season undefeated. Poeta finished as runner up for a second consecutive season with a 17-1 record.
“Every time I shot a double leg he would jump back knowing I was going to shoot from my knees,” Burroughs said. “I finally found an opening at the end of the first period and got two and it kind of set the pace for the match. I knew he had to come after me. That’s when I’m best is when people are chasing me.”
Nebraska’s Craig Brester also advanced to the finals, but lost to second-seeded Jake Varner of Iowa State, 2-1, at 197 pounds. Brester, a junior from Howells, Neb., was hard pressed to generate offense against the three-time NCAA finalist Varner. Neither wrestler scored in the first period, and Varner earned an escape eight seconds in the second. Brester chose down in the third in an attempt to escape and tie the match at one, but Varner earned riding-time advantage to take the win before Brester escaped. Brester went 33-4 in 2008-09 with three of his losses on the season coming to Varner.
Head Coach Mark Manning has coached 27 Huskers to All-America honors during his nine seasons at Nebraska. He has also led NU to nine five top-10 finishes at the NCAA Championships. NU’s 78.5 points are the second most it has ever scored at the tournament, trailing only a 79.5-point performance in 1993.
“We would have liked to have won both of those matches, but this is a very tough stage to compete on,” Manning said. “Jordan did a great job against a great competitor who was in the finals last year. Jordan has really made himself a complete wrestler and has put the work in. Craig has done the same thing.”
Courtesy: Nebraska Media Relations