The Iowa wrestling team finally made its 2019-20 season debut against UT-Chattanooga in front of a good-sized and enthusiastic crowd at Carver-Hawkeye Arena -- and they gave them a fair amount to cheer for over the course of almost two hours. Iowa won all ten matches and recorded bonus points in five of them, including a pair of technical falls, two major decisions, and a dual-ending pin from Tony Cassioppi. Two Iowa wrestlers made their CHA debuts, Nelson Brands at 184 lbs and Tony Cassioppi, and both picked up wins that got the home crowd buzzing. There was also one long awaited return, as Michael Kemerer wrestled his first match at 174 lbs and his first match, period, since March of 2018. He looked great in picking up a very rare 20-0 technical fall victory. Some of the matches didn't feature as much action as we would have hoped to see, but overall this was a solid debut for the Hawkeyes in 2019-20.
#2 Iowa 39, UT-Chattanooga 0
|125||#1 Spencer Lee||MAJ DEC (16-5)||#28 Fabian Gutierrez||IOWA 4-0|
|133||Paul Glynn||DEC (10-7)||Wade Cummings||IOWA 7-0|
|141||#2 Austin DeSanto||TECH FALL (21-4)||Aidan Murphy||IOWA 12-0|
|149||#3 Pat Lugo||DEC (9-4)||Tanner Smith||IOWA 15-0|
|157||#2 Kaleb Young||MAJ DEC (16-6)||George Carpenter||IOWA 19-0|
|165||#6 Alex Marinelli||DEC (9-4)||Drew Nicholson||IOWA 22-0|
|174||#2 Michael Kemerer||TECH FALL (20-0)||Hunter Fortner||IOWA 27-0|
|184||Nelson Brands||DEC (8-4)||#21 Matthew Waddell||IOWA 30-0|
|197||#5 Jacob Warner||DEC (5-4)||#24 Rodney Jones||IOWA 33-0|
|285||#12 Tony Cassioppi||FALL (1:45)||Grayson Walthall||IOWA 39-0|
(all rankings via Trackwrestling)
A few thoughts:
Spencer Lee got the dual started with a bonus point win, but there was definitely some cause for concern with his performance. Lee's right leg was wrapped heavily and he wore a large knee brace on that leg, too, both of which are concerning. Lee also looked gassed in the second and third periods, giving up a takedown to Gutierrez and getting ridden pretty hard for a while. He started the year slowly last year as well, before finishing with a flourish yet again, so we're not going to panic, but his condition is definitely something to keep an eye on.
With Gavin Teasdale in action at the Luther Open and Austin DeSanto up at 141 lbs, senior Paul Glynn got the nod at 133 lbs and prevailed with a 10-7 win after a terrible start. Glynn gave up three takedowns in the first period, but he got quick escapes each time. He managed to finish the first period with a takedown of his own to take a 6-5 deficit into the second period and he was the much better wrestler in the second and third periods, outscoring Cummings 5-1 in those periods with an escape and a pair of takedowns. Bad start, good finish, solid result -- we'll take that from a back-up.
DeSanto was in action at 141 lbs and he was all action at that weight. He scored a takedown early in the match and kept his foot on the gas throughout, chaining together a variety of attacks to secure multiple takedowns and tilts in a dizzying display of activity. DeSanto locked up a 21-4 technical fall in the second period and looked in fine form.
Lugo started well with a takedown of his own in the first period, but gave up an escape and a takedown to briefly go down 3-2 in the first period. Like Glynn, though, Lugo was comfortably the better wrestler in the second and third periods and was able to polish off a 9-4 decision win. It would have been nice to see a little more urgency from Lugo and more activity, as bonus points probably could have been secured if he'd pushed for them.
In the final pre-intermission bout, Kaleb Young cruised to a 16-6 major decision at 157. Young controlled the match from start to finish and picked up at least one takedown in each period. Given his control, it might have been nice to see Young also push for a more lopsided win, but I'm not going to quibble too much with an easy major decision.
Alex Marinelli got Iowa started after intermission with a 9-4 decision win. Marinelli got a quick takedown in the first and picked up a mountain of riding time over the course of the match, but wasn't able to turn that dominace into nearfall points or a pin. That part was frustrating and maybe Marinelli should have cut Nicholson loose to go for more takedowns.
Michael Kemerer's long-awaited return to the Iowa lineup -- and his debut at 174 lbs -- did not disappoint. Kemerer looked big, he looked strong, he looked comfortable, and he looked really damn good. Caveats about the quality of competition apply, but Kemerer absolutely steamrolled Fortner in this match. He got a takedown almost immediately, then went to work riding Fortner and trying to turn him for nearfall points. He turned that action into a 14-0 first period lead, then finished the match off with a takedown and four nearfall points early in the second -- and nearly got a pin, too. A 20-0 score is a pretty unique sight -- technical falls are capped at a 15-point winning margin, so if a wrestler scores 20+ points his opponent almost always has to score some points (even if they're just via gifted escapes) to prevent the match from being stopped. Anyway, long story short: Kemerer looked great and that was one of the best takeaways from today.
Fans have clamored to see Nelson Brands, the son of Iowa assistant coach Terry Brands and nephew of head coach Tom Brands, in the lineup since he signed with the Hawkeyes a few years ago. The younger Brands redshirted in 2018-19 but finally donned the iconic black singlet and made his much-anticipated debut in front of the CHA faithful on Sunday -- and he did not disappoint. Despite giving up some size to his opponent (Brands reportedly weighed in around 176 lbs), he used his skill and his non-stop motor to get a solid win. Brands picked up a pair of takedowns in the first period and added a third takedown late in the third to ice his win. Brands will likely see action in spot duty all season, but it was great to see him get a debut here -- and a win. No doubt it's the first of many we'll see over the next few years.
Jacob Warner followed at 197 lbs and he had one of the least-impressive outings of the afternoon for an Iowa wrestler. He won 5-4 and the match wasn't quite that close -- Jones got a bit of a desperation takedown in the final seconds of the match -- but it still wasn't a controlling or dominant performance in the least. Warner scored his points off a first period takedown, an escape, and penalty points for stalling and an eye-poke. It would have been much more reassuring to see Warner get to his offense in the second and third periods and complete a few more takedowns.
- Finally, Tony Cassioppi was the other Iowa wrestler to make his official debut on Sunday and he was exactly as advertised: a fun, active heavyweight with a hunger for pins. Cassioppi got a takedown early in the first period and immediately went to work trying to turn Walthall with an arm bar. About 90 seconds later, he finished the job and flipped Walthall onto his back for the pin -- the first of Cassioppi's career and the first of the season for Iowa. Not a bad first impression in front of the Hawkeye faithful.
You can check out Nelson Brands in action here:
And Cassioppi's in here:
Meanwhile, several Iowa wrestlers competed at the Luther and Grand View Open tournaments on Saturday. Aaron Cashman (125), Carter Happel (141), Vince Turk (149), and Cash Wilcke (184) all picked up championships at the Luther Open, generally in blowout fashion. Cashman had a pin and two major decisions, Happel had three pins and a major decision, Turk had two technical falls (and two regular decisions), and Wilcke had two technical falls and two pins. Given the competition (mostly Division III level guys), you'd expect a lot of wins for the Iowa contingent, but it's good to see that for the most part they were also putting in some dominant performances and showing off their offensive ability. Hopefully that gives them some confidence as they face more difficult competition.
In other Luther Open action, Connor Corbin recorded a 4th place finish at 197 lbs and Aaron Costello was runner-up at 285 lbs. Max Murin wrestled just one match at 141 lbs; after winning his first match with a pin in a little over a minute, Murin medically forfeited his next two matches in the tournament. Observers noted that Murin had a large shoulder brace on, so his health would seem to be a big factor in his presence (or absence) from the Iowa lineup. We'll have to keep an eye on his status as the season progresses.
Finally, Gavin Teasdale made his debut (while wearing an Iowa singlet) and it was a mixed bag. He won his first two matches via overwhelming technical falls (18-3, 20-3), then got upset by Wartburg's Kristian Rumph in his third match, 6-3. Whoops. (He then won his third place match via injury default, though Teasdale was leading at the time of the injury.) Losing to a Division III wrestler isn't a good look, obviously, but we should probably expect some ups and downs with Teasdale, at least early in the season. He hasn't competed at all since his high school season, so there may be a little competitive rust to shake off. More than anything, he needs mat time in order to get more in-competition experience. To that end, entering him in open tournaments early on is a good idea, as it's probably more helpful for him right now to wrestle multiple matches over a weekend than just a single match in a dual meet. Hopefully improved results come with increased mat time.
Several freshmen and sophomores were in action for Iowa at the Grand View Open in Des Moines, as well. Justin Stickley (141), Zachary Axmear (149), and Zach Glazier (197) picked up championships there. Glazier competed in the freshman/sophomore division and mauled the competition with two pins, two major decisions, and a technical fall. Stickley had three major decisions and a decision, while Axmear had a pin, a major decision, and two regular decisions.
In other action, Cobe Siebrecht finished 3rd in the freshman/sophomore division at 149 lbs, while true freshman Abe Assad was the runner-up in the open division (all classes) at 184 lbs, with a pin and a technical fall among his three wins. Aaron Meyer went 1-2 at 141 lbs, Cade Brownlee went 0-2 at 197 lbs, and Sam Cook went 3-2 at 197 lbs.
Full results for the Hawkeyes at the Luther Open and Grand View Open are available here.
NEXT: Iowa returns to the mat for an in-state showdown with Iowa State in Ames next Sunday (2 PM CT).