(TULSA, Oklahoma) Heading into the finals of the 2021 Big 12 Championships at the BOK Center, Iowa State found itself in a four-team race for the team title.
Iowa State had 109.5 team points, four ahead of Wyoming at 105.5, but two and a half behind Oklahoma State and 11.5 behind Oklahoma heading into Sunday night.
The Cyclones had three wrestlers in the finals, redshirt seniors Ian Parker at 141 pounds and Gannon Gremmel at heavyweight (285) and redshirt sophomore David Carr.
Carr and Gremmel won in the finals Sunday night, which gave Iowa State 117 team points and a third place finish out of 12, behind Oklahoma and Oklahoma State who are Big 12 co-champions with 124 points each.
"I thought we wrestled pretty well overall today," Iowa State Head Coach Kevin Dresser said.
With wins from Carr and Gremmel, Iowa State finished third place for the entire tournament, just six and a half points shy of co-champions Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
Carr and Gremmel's championship performances and runs led the Cyclones to the closest it's been pointwise to a Big 12 Championship in over a decade.
Six and a half points is the closest Iowa State has come to finishing first in the team score since 2010, when Iowa State came up a point and a half short against Oklahoma State.
Carr faced North Dakota State's Jared Franek in the finals. He immediately jumped ahead 2-0 with a takedown early in the first period.
This was one of three takedowns Carr got in the match, which, in addition to an escape and bonus point for riding time, led him to a 8-2 victory over Franek.
Scoring points is something Carr appears to take pride in.
"I want these guys know that I'm coming for you know, you don't have to come for me. I'm always going to be the type of guy who's gonna go out there, try to score points and I think when you try to score points all the time," Carr said. "I don't want to waste any second, as soon as a whistle blows, I want to go and get the takedown."
Carr has now won back-to-back Big 12 individual titles.
To become a Big 12 champion, Gremmel had to defeat the wrestler who he lost to in the 2020 Big 12 Championships, Wyoming's Brian Andrews.
Gremmel shut down Andrews and shut him out.
With an escape in the second period and a bonus point for riding time, Gremmel won 2-0 and captured his first Big 12 title.
Gremmel rode out Andrews for the entire third period.
"I watched film and saw that he was weak on bottom," Gremmel said.
Dresser has previously said Gremmel had improved on top this season and it showed Sunday.
Gremmel said he didn't wrestle much folkstyle this summer and his ability on top just kind of came together.
Gremmel said he had never felt nervous before a tournament until this one.
"I've never really been nervous for a tournament so this, I don't know if it's me being a senior or what, but I couldn't even sleep the last two nights," Gremmel said.
Carr and Gremmel had a combined 7-0 record in the Big 12 Championships.
While they both are Big 12 champions, they had a somewhat different way of getting there.
For starters, Carr had a bye in the first round while Gremmel wrestled against Utah Valley's Chase Trussell by a 6-2 decision.
From the quarterfinals on Carr and Gremmel won their matches but in different fashions.
Carr won his three matches by five points or more in addition to getting a pin over Air Force's Parker Simington in the quarterfinals.
Gremmel on the other hand had to find ways to win close matches, his last three matches were all won by five points or less, including the semifinal and championship, which were decided by two points.
"Being a fifth-year guy that's a little bit more dinged up, you got to find different ways to win and that's kind of how it happened," Gremmel said.
Iowa State went 2-1 in the finals Sunday.
In his final, Parker faced a familiar foe, Oklahoma's Dom Demas, who he beat in the final of the 2020 Big 12 Championships and in early February.
Parker had a 3-3 record against Demas heading into Sunday's final.
With one escape each, Parker and Demas headed into overtime. Trailing 3-2, Demas got an escape and Parker got called for locked hands, which gave Demas a 4-3 victory.
Had Parker not been called for locked hands, Demas still would have beaten Parker because he had the advantage in riding time.
"Ian lost a tough match. There's a lot of things I could say about the mechanics of the way that match was run, but I won't," Dresser said. "Between the nosebleeds and the scores table, we could never get the time right, it hurt our strategy to win that match because we know that guy gets tired. We couldn't get our flow going, but congratulations to him for winning."
Carr, Gremmel and Parker have automatically qualified for the 2021 NCAA Tournament in St. Louis, Missouri.
They are three of Iowa State's six automatic qualifiers for the 2021 NCAA Tournament.
Joining Carr, Gremmel and Parker is freshman Zach Redding at 133 pounds, redshirt senior Jarrett Degen at 149 pounds and redshirt junior Marcus Coleman at 197 pounds.
The at-large NCAA bids are set to be announced Wednesday with matchups being released Thursday.