Sam Stoll hasn’t had the senior season he envisioned, but the Iowa wrestler will have one last chance to craft a memorable conclusion to his collegiate career.
A fifth-place finisher at 285 pounds at last year’s NCAA Championships, Stoll was one of 45 wrestlers Tuesday to receive at-large berths into this year’s NCAA field.
One of four heavyweights awarded at-large spots in a field of 330 wrestlers, the addition of Stoll will give the Hawkeyes nine entries for the NCAA Championships that begin on March 21 at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh.
Stoll earned the opportunity to continue his 9-5 season after failing to earn one of seven automatic qualifying spots at 285 at last weekend’s Big Ten Championships.
The senior from Kasson, Minnesota, missed the cut by going 1-2 in the Big Ten tourney in a weight class where the conference featured nine of the top-15 ranked wrestlers in the country.
“There’s good competition every week, competition that is preparing me for the most important weeks of our season,’’ Stoll said prior to the Big Ten tourney. “The main thing is to be ready for the last one and then make the most of it when it gets here.’’
Stoll joined two Illinois wrestlers — former Hawkeye Joey Gunther at 165 and Eric Barone at 157 — in being awarded at-large opportunities by the NCAA Division I Wrestling Committee.
It awards berths based on seven weighted standards. Those include head-to-head competition, quality wins, results against common opponents, win percentage, RPI index, coaches’ rankings and conference tournament finish.
Stoll will be making his third appearance at the national tournament, earning all-American honors and earning the Gorriarian Trophy a year ago for the most pins in the least amount of time at the NCAA Championships.
His number of matches this season has been limited because of a lower-body injury suffered prior to the start of his season.
The only weight class where Iowa won’t have an NCAA entry is 174, the weight Mitch Bowman dropped down to after early-season injuries decimated the Hawkeyes’ depth. The North Scott graduate concludes his Iowa career with a 35-28 record, going 7-7 during his senior season.
Coach Tom Brands has given his wrestlers a couple of days off following the Big Ten tourney before beginning preparation for the final meet of the season.
“Let’s get ready to go,’’ Brands said. “We’re going to relax a bit here and get some good recovery to be ready. These guys take great pride in doing it right."
Brackets and seeding for NCAA tournament are scheduled to be announced today.