Well, this isn't good news. Michael Kemerer, a two-time All-American for Iowa at 157 lbs, is having season-ending surgery:
— Cody Goodwin (@codygoodwin) November 27, 2018
The release from Iowa doesn't specify any details about the the surgery, but it's believed to be to repair a knee injury. Kemerer competed at 157 lbs as a redshirt freshman and sophomore in 2016-17 and 2017-18 but had moved up to 174 lbs to compete this year. Injuries had prevented Kemerer from taking the mat this year; now we'll have to wait until 2019-20 for Kemerer to make his debut at his new weight.
Kemerer was a member of the well-regarded Young Guns wrestling club in Pennsylvania, alongside current Hawkeyes Spencer Lee, Kaleb Young, and Max Murin. In fact, Kemerer was the first wrestler of the current Pennsylvania pipeline to join Iowa, as a recruit back in 2015. Landing a Top 10 overall talent like Kemerer out of Pennsylvania was a huge get for Brands & Co. and it got the ball rolling on Iowa's recent recruiting success that has brought the likes of Lee, Young, Murin, Alex Marinelli, Jacob Warner, and Anthony Cassioppi.
Kemerer had largely lived up to the hype during his two years on the mat as well. He went 24-2 during his redshirt season, with 19 bonus point wins, four open tournament titles, and a 5th place finish at Midlands. As a redshirt freshman he went 33-3 with a Midlands championship, a runner-up finish at the Big Ten Tournament, and a 3rd place finish at the NCAA Tournament. Last year, as a sophomore, he went 27-3 with another Midlands championship and finished 6th at the Big Ten Tournament and 4th at the NCAA Tournament while dealing with injuries. Kemerer has been one of Iowa's best wrestlers over the last few years -- probably their best non-Spencer Lee wrestler -- so his absence will be a big blow for the team. We wish him a full and speedy recovery and look forward to watching him tear up the competition next season.
In the meantime, what does this mean for Iowa? Well, there's no sugarcoating it: Iowa's ability to contend for a Big Ten or NCAA championship just took a massive hit. Iowa's ability to vie for those titles was predicated in large part on the 15-20 points that Kemerer was expected to earn for the team. There's no one waiting in the wings to replace him that's likely to match his expected point totals. The best case scenario is probably a replacement managing 1/3 to 1/2 of Kemerer's projected points and then trying to squeeze a few more points out of everyone else. But that's probably not all that likely, you know?
In the short term, Myles Wilson will likely continue to serve as Iowa's starter at 174 lbs. Wilson is 2-2 on the season, picking up wins against Kent State and CSU Bakersfield, but losing to Princeton (via major decision) and Purdue (via decision). I would expect to see him as Iowa's starting 174er at least until Midlands. As for who could man the weight for the remainder of the year... at his weekly presser today, Tom Brands noted that they have a slew of guys at 157, which is very accurate:
It's plausible that one of those guys could try to bulk up and man the spot, since Kaleb Young appears to have a firm grip on the starting job at 157 lbs. (More on him in a moment, in fact.) I'd guess that Glosser, Moody, and maybe Shaw would be the best options to try and move up to 174. Moody has previously competed at 165, so moving up might be easiest for him; Glosser and Shaw were both 149ers before moving to 157, so they might be quite undersized at 174.
Another option would be a bigger wrestler cutting down to 174 lbs. Brands seemed to hint at that with this comment:
This was my first thought when Brands said, "We have some upper weight guys that have certified down there. We have some options. Obviously, the heavier guys are going to take time because of the math and the formulas and the NCAA rules." Bowman went at 174 in 2015-16. #Iowa https://t.co/iyBpFW9wSm
— Cody Goodwin (@codygoodwin) November 27, 2018
Our blog pal Ross Bartachek of IA Wrestle noted that Bowman did certify at 174 lbs earlier this year. Bowman hasn't wrestled at 174 since 2015-16, spent all of last season at 184 lbs, and most recently wrestled at 197 (he upset Purdue's Christian Brunner at 197 at the Iowa-Purdue dual last Saturday), though he was doing so as an undersized competitor (he reportedly weighed in around 182 lbs). Bowman has flashed strongly at times -- his highlight so far was probably going 2-2 at the NCAA Tournament last year with two bonus point wins -- and he could do reasonably well at 174 if the weight cut is tolerable.
There's no doubt that losing Kemerer is a big, big blow for Iowa this season and, again, we wish him a full and speedy recovery. Hopefully his replacement(s) are able to mind the store at 174 well enough for the rest of the season.
In unrelated -- but happier -- news, Kaleb Young was named Big Ten Wrestler of the Week on Tuesday.
— Big Ten Wrestling (@B1GWrestling) November 27, 2018
Young pinned Purdue's Griffin Parriott 32 seconds into the second period of their match last Saturday, earning Iowa's only pin of the dual meet and solidifying Iowa's team victory over the Boilermakers. So far Young has adapted to his new weight extremely well, going 4-0 with three bonus point wins (two pins and a major decision). Last year Young was a jack-of-all-trades fill-in guy that Iowa used at both 165 and 174, but it looks like he's found a home at 157 lbs this year. We're eager to see what he can do against some of the better guys at this weight, but so far the results have been very promising. Congratulations on a deserved Wrestler of the Week honor, Kaleb.