HERE WE GO!!! Wrestling season is officially upon us as we kick off the dual meet season against the Princeton Tigers tonight at 7PM GT inside the heavenly walls of Carver-Hawkeye Arena. This is fan appreciation night and our Hawkeyes have every intent on recognizing the world’s greatest fans by giving us the greatest gift of all: a Princeton ass kicking.
We lead the all-time series against the Tigers, 3-0, with our most recent tune up coming by way of a 30-9 victory in 2019. We worked them over in 7 of the 10 matches and it’s entirely possible we top that this time around.
#21 PRINCETON (0-0)
The kitties are ready for some real action and this will be the 1st time they’ve taken to the mat against a ranked opponent since 2020.
Yes, you read that right. The ivy league bowed out last year, which led to them sitting the entire season out. Not only did it cost these athletes a year of competition it also resulted in All-American Patrick Brucki (197lbs) transferring to Michigan.
Needless to say, this not only hurts their dual lineup, but absolutely crushes any and all tournament hopes they may have had for this season.
However, they still have few guys in the lineup that will be jockeying for a podium finish in March, led by All-American #2 Patrick Glory (125), #5 Quincy Monday (157), and #24 Travis Stefanik (184).
These Tigers are now upperclassmen and Princeton will be viewing them as such. At this point in their respective careers they’ll now be expected to lead the charge and set the tone for this otherwise young team that will likely field as many as three freshman in the starting lineup. And with Glory slotting in just below Spencer Lee in the rankings, they’ll want him to be their very own spark plug.
Most of these guys saw some action in the Southeast Open last weekend with Monday and Luke Stout (197lbs) winning titles. They had six other guys place while Glory didn’t participate in the tournament, which, he would’ve run through anyways.
#1 IOWA (0-0)
Our Iowa Hawkeyes are still riding high, fine as wine, following their championship run last season. Now, we turn towards this season and are eagerly planning a back-to-back victory dance atop the team race in March.
And we’re planning this with the same exact team. That’s right, all 10 starters from years past are back, including 8 All-Americans and former starter, Abe Assad (184), from 2020.
Several of our Hawkeyes got their toes wet last weekend by running amuck at the Luther Open and crowned 8 champions; 4 of which weren’t starters. Those that climbed to the top of that small mountain were #3 Austin DeSanto (133), #2 Jaydin Eierman (141), #6 Kaleb Young (157), and #2 Alex Marinelli (165).
Coincidentally three of the four of the Luther Open champs AA’d last year, rounding out the other AA’s are 3x National Champ and 2x Hodge Trophy winner #1 Spencer Lee (125), #2 Michael Kemerer (174), #3 Jacob Warner (197), and U23 World Champ #3 Tony Cassioppi (285).
But at the first light of this season, health seems to be the biggest factor. According to the the lineups you will instantly notice the omission of Spencer Lee, Max Murin, and Michael Kemerer.
Let’s tackle Lee first - and in his place is Luther Open champ, Jesse Ybarra.
There’s a lot of unpack in that sentence, considering Lee smoked Ybarra a couple weeks ago during the intrasquad matches, racking up a quick 10-0 score before sticking him in 1:46. There was no surprise to see Lee sit out the Luther Open (a 3x champ doesn’t gain much by taking the mat there), but him missing out on the opening night of his senior year is another story all together.
A few theories here:
- Lee’s knees simply aren’t ready, especially for the type of heat that Pat Glory brings. We need to remember that Glory is a returning AA and was seeded #2 the year the tourney was canceled. Glory is known for low attacks and his scrambling ability, let alone the intense leverage he likes to apply to other’s knees... which could spell disaster for our guy. This could be a cautionary match to stay away from, especially while Lee (I assume) is still strengthening and stabilizing those precarious joints.
- Lee is so elite he may have wrestled Ybarra a bit banged up and no one was the wiser. Which is all the more reason to limit his matches throughout the year and preserve his best for when we need it most: March.
- He certainly may have dinged himself up in that blow out over Ybarra. Now rinse and repeat the rest of the 2nd theory.
Personally, I think they’re avoiding any unnecessary risk to an opponent he’s throttled twice before. However, it is interesting to see Ybarra rip of the redshit for the opportunity at a few spot starts during this season. Many of the Hawkeye faithful seem to be outraged by the wasted year, which let’s face it, if Lee wrestles at all it will be a wasted year for Ybarra.
But, from his POV, we also have to realize the talent coming in behind him: Drake Ayala and the #7 p4p recruit for the class of 2023, Nate Jesuroga. Ybarra may already be looking back and realizing this is his shot to get a leg up on the monsters that will soon be nipping at his heels, plus mix in Cullen Schriever up a weight and he could be feeling the pressure there as well. Any and all exposure at the D1 level could be beneficial moving forward. Regardless of how we view this eventual logjam, it’s a good problem to have.
Then again, this convo could be pointless and Tom Brands could surprise us and send Lee out anyways. Brands is sly and a wrestling spycraft master, it wouldn’t surprise me one way or another.
Anyways, on to Murin and Kemerer who have both missed starts from time to time due to being dinged up. And that’s at all it is. Murin has more to gain from every match, but Kemdawg would likely work his guys into oblivion and nothing more, so nothing gained. I say let them rest and let’s get focused for Oregon State on Nov. 27 and Iowa State on Dec. 5.
125lbs: Jesse Ybarra vs #2 Pat Glory
If Ybarra gets the nod here I’m anxious to see how he does against the best of the rest of this class. Getting pinned by Lee in 1:46 is still a helluva lot better than most guys do. Ybarra is arguably one of the most athletic guys we have on the team, so I’m pumped to see how those skills translate to the mat after a year+ in the room with his elite teammate.
I don’t expect a win here, but if he’s able to hold his ground, compete, and keep this to a major it’ll be a big moral win for the Hawks to start things off.
133lbs: #3 Austin DeSanto // Cullen Schriever vs Nick Kayal // Nick Masters
I fully expect DeSanto to start and if he does, I fully expect him to tech his opponent.
Regrettably, there was some sort of altercation following his match with Schriever (or his family) in the Luther Open finals. I’m guessing Schriever is listed solely as a reprimand, a “If you pull this shit again, Schriever is starting” type of thing.
I hate that ADS is in this situation again, but I’m not going to deep dive into it, because all the alleged reports are sketchy and unreliable, at best. But something definitely did happen and as a result, Schriever is being eye.
But if he goes, he will be burning his redshirt as well. Moving on.
157lbs: #6 Kaleb Young vs #7 Quincy Monday
This is easily the match of the night (outside of Lee of course). These two have squared off twice before with KY taking the first match and Monday upsetting him in the 2nd. 3-2.
KY needs to come out and equal Monday’s early intensity and withstand that early onslaught. If he’s able to slow him down and find a TD of his own, I like his chances to build on that. KY’s problem in his lose is he was caught flat-footed and gave up an early TD, then Monday was able to dance around and turtle up for the entire 3rd. We need our guy to push the pace and force an early stall call on the Tiger.
And FWIW - Young had two falls last weekend on his way to a crown at the Luther Open. He now has more falls this season alone than he has in the previous two years. That’s a damn good sign.
186lbs: Abe Assad vs Travis Stefanik
Stefanik is a solid opponent, big, sturdy, and athletic. He’s a 2x NCAA qualifier and a guy that rarely gets blown out. He has the ability to keep the match tight in the 3rd with nearly anyone in this class and that’s worrisome for Assad.
Especially since Ol’ Abe is coming off the worst loss of his career in the Luther Open finals where he took a loss from Clayton Whitting... a Missouri commit... a high schooler.
However, Abe leads the series against his Princeton rival 1-0, but that lone win came by way of a 5-3 score in SV1 - so I expect this match to have a similar outcome. Unless, our guys lights a fire in his belly and erupts like we all know he can.
I expect a win here, but let’s keep an eye on Abe’s body language and see how he responds to last week’s debacle.
125: Jesse Ybarra vs #2 Patrick Glory
133: #3 Austin DeSanto // Cullen Shcriever vs Nick Kayal // Nick Masters
141: #3 Jaydin Eierman vs Nick Masters // Jacob Mann
149: Bretli Reyna // Cobe Siebrecht // Vince Turk vs Josh Breeding
157: #6 Kaleb Young vs #7 Quincy Monday
165: #2 Alex Marinelli vs Grant Cuomo // Luca Pontone
174: #2 Michael Kemerer // Myles Wilson // Brennan Swafford vs Mikey Squires // Forest Belli
184: Abe Assad vs Travis Stefanik
197: #3 Jacob Warner // Zach Glazier vs Luke Stout
285: #3 Tony Cassioppi vs Jack Del Garbino
Opponent: #21 Princeton Tigers
Dual time: 7:00 PM GT (Central) // Friday, Nov. 19 2021
Location: Carver-Hawkeye Arena // Iowa City, IA
TV/ Online: BTN+