Iowa Wrestling Puts Six In B1G Tournament Finals, Leads Team Race By 15

By RossWB on March 7, 2021 at 9:39 am
@Hawks_Wrestling (Twitter)

After a solid opening session, in which Iowa wrestlers went 3-0 in their opening round matches and 8-2 in the quarterfinals, Iowa followed that up with another good showing in the semifinals, going 6-2 in the semis and placing six wrestlers into Sunday's Big Ten Tournament finals. Here's a quick summary of Iowa's semifinal performers: 

125 #1 Spencer Lee FALL (0:23) #5 Rayvon Foley (Michigan State)
133 #2 Austin DeSanto DEC (5-4) #3 Lucas Byrd (Illinois)
141 #1 Jaydin Eierman DEC (7-1) #4 Chad Red (Nebraska)
157 #2 Kaleb Young DEC (3-2 TB2) #3 Brayton Lee (Minnesota)
165 #1 Alex Marinelli DEC (2-0) #4 Cameron Amine (Michigan)
174 #1 Michael Kemerer DEC (4-2) #4 Logan Massa (Michigan) 
197 #2 Myles Amine (Michigan) DEC (3-1 SV) #3 Jacob Warner
285 #2 Mason Parris (Michigan) FALL (0:48) #2 Tony Cassioppi

Spencer Lee answered any concerns anyone might have had about his quarterfinal win with an exclamation point on Saturday night, taking Foley down off the whistle and almost immediately putting him on his back for a pin. Not even 30 seconds and Lee was already on to the Big Ten finals. Incredible. Lee's quick pin tied for the quickest-ever by an Iowa wrestler at the Big Ten Tournament (a record also tied by Tony Cassioppi earlier in the day on Saturday). 

Austin DeSanto followed up an unusually low-energy quarterfinal victory with a struggle in the semis, too. He edged out Byrd 5-4 on the basis of three escapes and a takedown. He seemed bothered throughout the match by issues with a finger, which looked like it may have been dislocated early on. That's definitely not a great ailment for a wrestler who relies on his grip as much as DeSanto does. Hopefully a good night's rest and some time with the trainer has him ready to go; DeSanto will need to be much better than he's been so far in this tournament to knock off Roman Bravo-Young in the finals. 

Jaydin Eierman fell behind early before coming back for an 8-4 win over Chad Red at the dual meet earlier this year. After a cagey first period, Eierman blew open the rematch in the Big Ten Tournament in the second and third periods, running out to a 7-1 victory behind some of the improbable takedowns we've come to expect from Eierman. His scrambling is world-class and his ability to score from such unusual positions (and to be so punishing from the top position) is still breathtaking. 

Iowa picked up wins from its next two semifinalists, Kaleb Young and Alex Marinelli, but neither man provided much (or anything) in the way of offensive fireworks. Young won 3-2 off a pair of escapes and a tiebreaker point in a match that went the full distance (three periods, two sudden victories, and two sets of tiebreaker periods) but featured nothing in the way of memorable action. It seemed to be 15 minutes of each waiting for the other man to make a mistake and neither man willing to commit. It was thoroughly dull. Marinelli's match didn't drag into any overtime periods, but he won 2-0 on an escape and a riding time point. It was workmanlike and effective, but didn't feature much in the way of potent offensive action that we've come to expect from Marinelli matches. 

Michael Kemerer made it 6-for-6 for Iowa in the semifinals with a 4-2 win over Michigan's dangerous Logan Massa. Kemerer used a first period takedown, a strong ride, and an escape to score his points and his defense kept Massa's attacks at bay throughout. Kemerer's match was the last victory for Iowa in the semifinals, though. Warner lost a 3-1 decision in sudden victory to Amine after they had traded escapes through the first three periods. Warner's reluctance to attack on offense proved his undoing as he failed to threaten Amine much throughout the match. And, finally, Cassioppi simply ran into a buzzsaw against Michigan's Mason Parris in his semifinal. We wondered if Cassioppi had been able to close the gap on Parris at all since last year; the answer to that would be an emphatic "no" at this point. 

Meanwhile, in consolation bracket action: 

149 #8 Mike Van Brill (Rutgers) DEC (7-2) #2 Max Murin
184 #9 Nelson Brands DEC (5-2) #10 Rocky Jordan (Ohio State)
184 #9 Nelson Brands DEC (3-2) #4 Owen Webster (Minnesota)

Max Murin's lousy day continued into the evening, as he followed up his quarterfinal loss earlier on Saturday with a 7-2 loss in the consolation bracket. That loss eliminated him from the Big Ten Tournament and also denied him a chance to earn an automatic qualifying spot for the NCAA Tournament; he'll need to receive an at-large selection now. There's a good chance that he will, but this was a bad time for Murin's worst day of the season. 

In brighter news, Nelson Brands responded well to his quarterfinal defeat, notching a pair of wins in the consolation bracket. First he knocked out Rocky Jordan with a 5-2 victory that ensured Brands would get one of the automatic qualifying spots for the NCAA Tournament at 184 lbs. Then he beat Owen Webster 3-2 to guarantee himself no worse than a 6th place finish at the weight. After some struggles in his last few regular season matches, Brands has had a pretty solid Big Ten Tournament showing overall. 

And the team race: 

1 Iowa 126.5
2 Penn State 111.5
3 Nebraska 88.0
4 Michigan 76.0
5 Purdue 67.0

Iowa opened up a big lead after going 6-2 in the semifinals, but Penn State hacked into that by placing four wrestlers into the Big Ten finals themselves and doing well in the consolation bracket last night. We'll have to see how things shake out in the consolation bracket action this morning (which gets underway at 11 AM Central on BTN+) to see what kind of lead Iowa has heading into the finals this afternoon (3 PM, BTN). To add to the intrigue, three of those finals (133, 141, and 174) will feature Iowa vs Penn State matchups. 

Here, have some highlights: 

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