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Iowa Wrestling: No. 1 Hawkeyes tops Purdue and Ohio State in Tri-Duals: Recap

No Brands, no Marinelli, no Young, no problems.

Big Cass kicks ass with a pin over Purdue’s Dorian Keys
Nikos Frazier / Journal & Courier

Our #1 ranked Iowa Hawkeyes hit the road on Sunday to take on Purdue and #8 Ohio State in West Lafayette. We were all geared up for another dominating weekend, but it quickly turned into gut-check mode prior to first whistle. With #1 Alex Marinelli and head coach Tom Brands already absent, a shorthanded lineup, led by Terry Brands, became more depleted when it was announced that #8 Kaleb Young would be sidelined as well due to Covid-19 protocols.

That left two giant All-American sized holes in the middle of the lineup against two tough teams that, unfortunately, are pretty damn strong at those weights.

Fortunately, great teams find a way to prevail and that’s exactly what happened. We took the first dual against Purdue, 31-18, then immediately put the Buckeyes away, 33-14 to push our record to 5-0. I’ve been saying all year how important bonus points are and they showed up in a big way this time around.

#1 IOWA 31, Purdue 18

125 #6 Devin Schroder tech. fall over Aaron Cashman, 18-0. Purdue 0-5

133 #2 Austin DeSanto tech. fall over Jacob Rundell, 24-8. Tied 5-5

141 #2 Jaydin Eierman pinned #25 Parker Filius, 3:46. Iowa 11-6

149 #5 Max Murin tech. fall over Trey Kruse, 19-3. Iowa 16-5

157 #7 Kendall Coleman major dec. over Zach Axmear, 18-6. Iowa 16-9

165 Gerrit Nijenhuis pinned Joe Kelly, 4:26. Iowa 16-15

174 #1 Michael Kemerer pinned Emil Soehnlen, 3:59. Iowa 22-15

184 #20 Max Lyon dec. #8 Nelson Brands, 6-1. Iowa 22-18

197 #7 Jacob Warner dec. over #20 Thomas Penola, 9-5. Iowa 25-18

285 #4 Tony Cassioppi pinned Dorian Keys, 2:15. Iowa 31-18

For reasons unknown, Spencer Lee did not take the mat so Aaron Cashman received the greenlight against #6 Devin Schroder. Cashman held his own through the first, but quickly fell apart in the 2nd period when Schroder initiated his best Spencer Lee impression and got to his arm bar series for a nasty 18-0 tech fall.

Thus, the first time the Hawks had trailed all season, 0-5.

Austin DeSanto, Jaydin Eierman, and Max Murin quickly regained the lead for good by going tech fall, pin, tech fall before back Zach Axmear lost at 157lbs to make it 16-9 at intermission.

Gerrit Nijenhuis pinned Joe Kelly at 165lbs to cut into our lead, 16-15. Michael Kemerer returned the favor with his own pin before Nelson Brands would go on to lose another close decision he shouldn’t. Jacob Warner secured the team victory with a decision at 197lbs then Big Cass put the exclamation on the dual with yet another pin.

While this wasn’t the blowout we were expecting, it was an incredibly fun dual filled with an unusually high amount of bonus point wins, especially in Big Ten competition. We split the first eight matches with the Boilermakers and seven of them were of the bonus variety. But despite the 4-4 split we had a 22-18 lead going into 197lbs. I’ll say it for as long as I’m here at BHGPs, but that’s why the bonus is so important. Major decisions are a real treat, but being able to crank it up a level to snag a tech or pin are game changes and that’s why Purdue couldn’t hang late.

We won 6 of 10 with five coming by bonus: three pins and two techs.

These are the types of wins that’ll put the pressure on early at the Big Ten’s and NCAA’s.

We won the takedown battle 26-11 and outscored Purdue, 86-74, which is pretty solid considering we had three backups in.

With NC State losing over the weekend to Virginia Tech, this now gives Iowa the current longest winning streak at 17 consecutive dating back to last season.

#1 IOWA 33, #8 Ohio State 14

125 #1 Spencer Lee pinned Brady Koontz, 1:32. Iowa 6-0

133 #2 Austin DeSanto tech. fall over Dylan Koontz, 19-4. Iowa 11-0

141 #2 Jaydin Eierman pinned Anthony Echemendia, 5:23. Iowa 17-0

149 #2 Sammy Sasso pinned #5 Max Murin, 6:53. Iowa 17-6

157 Elijah Cleary dec. over Bretli Reyna, 4-3. Iowa 17-9

165 #9 Ethan Smith tech. fall over Zach Axmear, 18-3. Iowa 17-14

174 #1 Michael Kemerer dec. over #5 Kaleb Romero, 3-1. Iowa 20-14

184 #8 Nelson Brands dec. over #18 Rocky Jordan, 3-0. Iowa 23-14

197 #7 Jacob Warner major dec. over #16 Chase Singletary, 11-1. Iowa 27-14

285 #3 Tony Cassioppi pinned #8 Tate Orndorff, 4:52. Iowa 33-14

Spencer Lee got the ball rolling, per usual, and stuck Brady Koontz in 1:32 to spot us 6 points. DeSanto and Eierman continued the bonus point trend with a tech. fall and pin heading into the match of the night: #5 Max Murin vs #2 Sammy Sasso.

We learned how good Sasso was last year when he duked it out with Pat Lugo and he flashed that brilliance again on Sunday afternoon. I’ll never knock a someone that’s going for broke at the end of a match and that’s what happened here. Murin was in deep with the clock ticking down and got caught in a cradle. While this ended in the undesirable pin, Murin was right there with the title contender and proved he belongs at the top of the ranks.

Our backups would lose in consecutive matches at 157lbs and 165lbs and that got Ohio State within 3 points, 17-14. Thankfully, Grandpa Kemerer was there to stop the hemorrhaging when he knocked off the unbeaten Kaleb Romero. Nelson Brands got back to his winning ways as well, albeit narrowly, and Warner iced the dual with a major decision.

And Big Cass was there to blow the doors off with another pin. Love it.

We took 7 of 10 with five bonus wins: 3 pins, 1 tech, and 1 major decision. We outscored tOSU 65-33 and won the takedown battle 13-9.

QUICK THOUGHTS:

125: I say it every week, but Spencer Lee is unreal. He’s up 14-0, pushing for the tech, but remains in complete control the inevitability. That makes 4 in a row to start the season.

141: Jaydin Eierman is unreal and I’m so damn happy he’s in the black & gold. Two pins during this road trip is no small feat. Plus, I realize Anthony Echemendia is a true freshman, but he’s a damn good freestyler. Eierman respected his abilities and didn’t go all in or get baited while in neutral. That to me shows that he’s learning patience and not forcing moves that aren’t there. He was very good before coming here, now he’s edging closer to greatness. It amazes me how opportunistic he is and how quickly he can change the dynamic of a match. He’s like a chess player out there, thinking several moves ahead. And thinking of baiting; here he’s in prime position with the legs laced in, just waiting for Echemendia to build to his base…

I truly hope the kid is alright, because he’s going to be a good one.

149: I briefly touched on it earlier, but Max Murin is right there with the elite of this weight. While I don’t know if he has the offensive abilities yet to push him to the finals, he has the grit and fortitude to give himself a chance.

Max’s TD conversion rate is higher than last year and perhaps more importantly, he’s firing off significantly more shots. Several times last season he was prone to get after things late, this year however, he’s upped the pace and is forcing the action earlier. While it didn’t pan out against Sasso, he was the aggressor and was in deep several times. It was a rough end to an otherwise great match, but it’s also one he’ll learn from.

157 – 165: Initially I was troubled with the performances of backups Joe Kelly and Zach Axmear. Watching any Hawkeye get lit up is a frustrating experience. After all, we don’t want to just win, we want to dominate.

But, we have to realize how fortunate we are with our starting lineup. Both of these guys have been in the program for years and deserved the limelight for an afternoon, I only wish it was under better circumstances and not against the opposing team’s best wrestlers.

174: Michael Kemerer didn’t get a takedown for the first time this year, but he still dug deep and found a way to win against a guy that turtled up and refused to initiate any action. This was a good solid win against a top-flight competitor.

184: Nelson Brands is still a mystery to me. He’s undersized at 184lbs, but that shouldn’t slow him down to this extent. Following the Max Lyon match he’d gone nearly 14:00+ minutes without attempting a legit shot. That is inexcusable, especially for a starter in the Big Ten.

He rebounded to a small degree against Rocky Jordan, but that’s also a match we’d expect him to win more handily. He’s now corralled one takedown in the past 21:00 minutes… That loss to Lyon especially sets him back for seeding purposes for the Big Ten’s. At this point it’s fair to say he’s his own worst enemy.

It’s also fair to ask, “Where is Abe Assad?” Tom Brands has given little detail in this matter, so I’m led to believe he’s banged up. Consequently, we’re far enough into the season that we must ride Nelson to the end. Asking Assad to come back for the final couple duals is a tough ask, especially with the conference tournament looming on the horizon.

197: Warner’s decision over Thomas Penola was a rough watch, especially midway through the 2nd period and the entirety of the 3rd where he appeared to gas out. He’s fortunate he didn’t get more stall calls thrown against, which could’ve cost him the match.

Mark Ironside was on the radio speculating that perhaps it was mental, and he didn’t warm up accordingly. That’s a fair assessment. We’re now entering the back stretch of the regular season and we’d expect Warner to be ready to go, so if that is the case, he needs to right the ship and prepare appropriately.

However, Warner also did take a nasty headbutt with :04 left in the 2nd. It’s entirely possible that he was a bit dazed and confused.

At this level of wrestling, we normally don’t see guys suddenly hit a brick wall like that and fall apart. But considering how he came out and dominated his way to a convincing major decision against Ohio State I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt.

285: Big Cass followed Eierman’s lead and picked up back-to-back falls as well. He has turned it into overdrive since his beat down to #1 Gable Steveson (Minn).

That now makes three pins in five matches, with two of them coming against top 20 opponents. We had a good run at heavyweight with Bobby Telford and Sam Stoll for the last decade, but Cassioppi may top them soon. He’s far more versatile and electric.

There’s still a considerable gap between him and Steveson and #2 Mason Parris (Mich), but he’s the best of that next tier. Those two guys are generational talents and Cass is busting his ass to push his name into that mix. So let’s sit back and enjoy, because he’s the most fun we’ve had at heavyweight since I can remember.


As I was writing this recap, the wrestling program released as statement saying that that Iowa Medical team paused all wrestling activities following the covid-19 test results.

This includes suspending the upcoming dual against Penn State on Friday, Feb. 12.

A dedicated post covering this will be up soon.