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Hawkeye Wrestling Club’s Spencer Lee, Austin DeSanto advance to U.S. Open semifinals
Update: DeSanto knocks off top-seeded Seth Gross to reach championship match
University of Iowa wrestling fans have grown accustomed to seeing Spencer Lee and Austin DeSanto advance through a tournament together.
As members of the Hawkeye Wrestling Club, they’re doing it again.
Lee and DeSanto dominated their way to the men’s freestyle semifinals at the U.S. Open Thursday at South Point Hotel and Casino.
Lee made his return to freestyle. The three-time age-level World champion hasn’t wrestled freestyle competitively since winning the U.S. Senior Nationals in December 2019.
The No. 2 seed at 57 kilograms was untouchable early, needing just 26 seconds to defeat Darrion Harris, of California, 10-0. Lee followed that with another 10-0 technical superiority win over Sheldon Seymour, of Lehigh Valley Wrestling Club.
Lee forged his way into the finals with a 9-4 decision over North Carolina’s Caleb Smith, who was seeded seventh. Lee scored the first nine points and gave up four late points with a caution-and-one on a pushout that resulted in two points and a takedown in the waning seconds.
Lee will face Nick Suriano, of Sunkist Wrestling club. Lee defeated Suriano for his first of three NCAA titles for the Hawkeyes.
DeSanto (61 kg) outscored his first three opponents by a combined score of 25-0, throttling former Northern Iowa wrestler Joe Colon, 12-0, in the quarterfinals.
DeSanto had two technical superiority wins, beating Viking Regional Training Center’s John Babineau, 10-0, to reach the quarterfinals. He also opened with a 3-0 decision over Aden Valencia, of California.
DeSanto will face top-seeded Seth Gross, who once wrestled for the Hawkeyes before winning an NCAA title with South Dakota State and finishing his college career with Wisconsin.
DeSanto moved into the finals with a 5-4 victory over Gross. He will face Cornell University’s NCAA champion Vito Arujau, who is the No. 2 seed. Arujau defeated Nathan Tomasello, 8-3, in the semifinal.
Iowa City High four-time state champion and U20 World Champion Ben Kueter made his senior level debut. The fifth seed at 97 kg won his opening bout against Malik McDonald, 12-8. He scored two late takedowns and used a gut-wrench turn for two exposure points to close out the victory.
During the match, however, Kueter had his left ankle retaped. Fourth-seeded Samuel Mitchell received a victory by injury over Kueter in the quarterfinal.
Former Hawkeyes Pat Lugo, Alex Marinelli, and Michael Kemerer lost quarterfinals and remain in the consolation bracket. Iowa’s Nelson Brands and Cullan Schriever are also in consolation competition.
Evan Yant, Julian Farber and Taylor Lujan remained alive in consolation competition. Lujan was the No. 6 see at 79 kg. He fell in the quarterfinals to No. 3 Alex Dieringer.
In Greco-Roman competition, University of Dubuque All-American Brady Koontz captured the 55 kg title and advanced to the Final X Series later this summer for a chance to make the 2023 U.S. World Team.
Top-seeded Koontz beat No. 2 Army WCAP’s Dalton Duffield in the finals.