Welcome to The Weigh-In, our extensive preview of Iowa wrestling heading into the 2019-20 season. We'll be doing weight-by-weight previews for all ten weight classes, as well as some full team breakdowns -- and maybe a few extra goodies as well.
|Austin DeSanto||JR||5-5 / 133|
|Gavin Teasdale||FR (RS)||5-4 / 133|
|Paul Glynn||SR (RS)||5-8 / 133|
THE KNOWN QUANTITY
Austin DeSanto (5'5", 133 lbs, JR, 53-13 overall, 23-6 (2018-19), 2019 NCAA All-American)
Obvious caveat is obvious: we, uh, don't know for sure that Austin DeSanto will be wrestling at this weight in 2019-20. But in the absence of confirmation otherwise -- which may not come for several more weeks -- I'm going to assume for now that DeSanto will be the starter at 133 for Iowa (and that Murin will be the starter at 141). If I'm wrong about that, so be it.
DeSanto arrived in the Iowa lineup with a bang and brought some fireworks -- in more ways than one -- to the 133 lb spot. He went 23-6 overall last year, with the highs including a Midlands championship and thrilling dual meet upset wins over Minnesota's Ethan Lizak and Rutgers' Nick Suriano. "Thrilling" is an understatement for the latter win, as DeSanto secured the match-winning takedown with just seconds left in the bout. That was probably the apex of DeSanto's 2018-19 season, though; Lizak and Suriano both avenged their losses to DeSanto in the Big Ten Tournament (where he finished 4th) and DeSanto lost in the quarterfinals at the NCAA Tournament and wound up finishing 5th.
133 lbs has been one of the gold standard weights under Tom Brands -- it's produced more NCAA finalists (7) than any other weight -- and DeSanto did a fine job of restoring that weight to its former glory after a down year in 2017-18. 57% (13/23) of his wins came with bonus points last year, mainly of the major decision or technical fall variety. DeSanto's mat game still needs some fine-tuning, but he was hell on wheels from neutral, where he was not afraid to turn matches into takedown exhibitions. If DeSanto can become a more well-rounded wrestler and improve some of his weaker areas, such as getting escapes from the bottom position and controlling and turning opponents from the top position -- he'll be a major contender for trophies at this weight.
IN THE WAITING ROOM
Gavin Teasdale (5'4",133 lbs, FR (RS), 0-0 overall)
Paul Glynn (5'8", 133 lbs, SR (RS), 39-31 overall, 9-4 (2018-19))
If DeSanto isn't the starter at 133 this year, the smart money is because Teasdale is simply too good to keep on the bench (which could push DeSanto to 141 and leave Max Murin as the odd man out). Teasdale was a blue chip recruit a few years ago who's had a very convoluted path to the Iowa team; he verbally committed to Iowa alongside his friend and Young Guns wrestling club teammate Spencer Lee several years ago, then de-committed to head to Penn State. He enrolled at Penn State but things didn't work out there, which put him on the move again... and eventually brought him back to Iowa (and Lee) this past offseason. All indications are that Teasdale is eligible to compete for Iowa this year and there's been persistent speculation that Teasdale has looked very good in practice leading up to this season.
Like DeSanto, Teasdale's strengths are on his feet, where he can chain together attacks from neutral and unleash takedowns in rapid-fire succession. My kingdom to be in the Iowa practice room to watch Teasdale and DeSanto scrap... alas. That said, we also don't know much about Teasdale against actual college competition, given that he didn't compete at all for Penn State while he was there and has yet to compete outside of practice settings for Iowa. There are plenty of reasons to believe that he could be a real menace at 133, but until we actually see him compete in a few matches, it's probably wise to pump the brakes on the hype train just a bit.
Glynn, in his fifth year in the Iowa program, has provided solid depth at this weight for a few years and should do the same for Iowa again this year. He went 5-2 at Midlands last year and won both dual meet bouts he competed in (filling in for DeSanto). Glynn isn't going to be an All-America threat at this weight, but he's a very competent stopgap for a match or two if Teasdale or DeSanto need a break.
STANDING IN THE WAY
|Seth Gross||SR||Wisconsin||96-17||2018 NCAA Champion, 2x NCAA finalist/All-American, 2x Big 12 Champion|
|Roman Bravo-Young||SO||Penn State||26-7||2019 NCAA All-American|
|Micky Phillippi||SO||Pitt||43-7||2019 NCAA Round of 12, 2019 ACC Champion|
|Austin Gomez||SO||Iowa State||24-7||2019 NCAA Round of 12|
Remember how I said that 125 is one of the weights not particularly impacted by the Olympic redshirt phenomenon this season? 133 is the complete opposite; it's been absolutely hollowed out by guys deciding to redshirt in 2019-20. Six of eight All-Americans from 2019 were eligible to return this season (6th place John Erneste of Missouri and 7th place Ethan Lizak of Minnesota both graduated), but only two of those six wrestlers are competing at 133 lbs this year... and that number could drop to just one, if Austin DeSanto does in fact move up to 141. Last year's top three finishers -- Rutgers' Nick Suriano, Oklahoma State's Daton Fix, and Michigan's Stevan Micic, respectively -- are all taking Olympic redshirts this season. Last year's 4th place finisher, Ohio State's Luke Pletcher, has moved up to 141 lbs. That leaves just DeSanto (5th) and Penn State's Roman Bravo-Young (8th) as returning All-Americans at 133 this year.
Those absences are offset slightly by the return of one of the top 133ers in recent years, Seth Gross. Gross was an NCAA finalist in 2017 and 2018, losing to Iowa's Cory Clark in 2017 and defeating Micic in the finals in 2018. He ended up redshirting last year while dealing with a shoulder injury, but is back to try and reclaim his throne this year. His quest to do so looks a whole lot easier after last year's top four finishers at the NCAA Tournament opted not to compete at 133 this year. Gross is also wrestling for the third different team of his college career; he started at Iowa before a legal situation got him booted from the team, then transferred to South Dakota State for three seasons before making the move to Wisconsin (who recently hired his SDSU coach, Chris Bono, to lead their team). Until proven otherwise, he's the man to beat at 133.
Beyond Gross, the top challengers at this weight appear to be a trio of rising young contenders. The top man there is Penn State's Bravo-Young, who navigated a vicious 133 lb bracket at the NCAA Tournament last season to finish 8th. He has tremendous quickness and explosive athleticism that make him a dangerous opponent. Pitt's Micky Phillippi and Iowa State's Austin Gomez both narrowly missed the podium last year (each lost in the Round of 12), but they're talented wrestlers who seem poised to take advantage of the chaos at this weight this season. Phillippi recorded wins over Lizak and former All-American Tariq Wilson (NC State) last year and went 1-1 against Pletcher; he also beat Gomez and had close losses against Bravo-Young and Fix. Gomez beat Bravo-Young last year and had a pair of close losses to Fix; he also went 1-1 against DeSanto and 0-1 against Phillippi. Gomez has had some issues cutting weight as well as some very lopsided losses (he got pinned last year and also lost via major decision and technical fall), so he's not the most predictable wrestler -- but he certainly has the talent to make a splash, particularly with 133 looking much shallower this year.
|#5||Austin Gomez||at Iowa State||11/24/19|
|#3||Roman Bravo-Young||Penn State||1/31/20|
The schedule of 133ers that Iowa is set to face this year is a little strange. Iowa should see three of the top five wrestlers at that weight... and then no one else in the Top 15-20, at least until tournament season. It just so happens that most of the ranked 133ers this year aren't on teams on Iowa's dual meet schedule. That said, matches between DeSanto (or Teasdale) and Gomez, Gross, and Bravo-Young should be more than worth it. DeSanto had Gomez had two high-scoring bouts last year; Gomez won the dual meet 14-9, while DeSanto won the rematch at the NCAA Tournament via 16-5 major decision. DeSanto and Bravo-Young also had some exciting bouts last season, with DeSanto scoring a 12-8 win at the Big Ten Tournament and a 7-2 win at the NCAA Tournament (thanks to a late scoring flurry). DeSanto and Gross haven't squared off yet, but that could be the most fascinating match of the bunch, given DeSanto's strengths from neutral and Gross' prowess on the mat.
WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN
This would be easier to predict if we knew exactly who was going to wrestle at this weight this season, but we'll make do. If DeSanto is the man here, I think his ceiling is very high this season. He finished 5th last year -- and all four guys who finished ahead of him (all of whom beat him head-to-head) are sitting out this year. Gross is a massive impediment to finishing atop the podium at the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments, particularly since he looks like a terrible stylistic match-up for DeSanto (Fix rode the hell out of DeSanto last year and Gross is a much more dangerous top guy). But even if DeSanto can't get past Gross, being a Big Ten and NCAA finalist would be huge for Iowa's team title aspirations -- and that seems very attainable.
If Teasdale ends up getting the nod at 133, we'll have to wait and see how he performs before we can determine what a realistic projection is for him this season. That said, he's a major talent and this is a very weakened weight, so if he's all that he was hyped to be as a recruit, it wouldn't be surprising to see that his ceiling is very high this year, too.