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NCAA wrestling takeaways: High expectations will return to Iowa
Hawkeyes lose lots of talent and NCAA points, but still have experience and Spencer Lee
DETROIT — Iowa Coach Tom Brands will take time to assess the Hawkeyes’ wrestling season.
He said there is mending to do for a team that dealt with injury and adversity from start to finish.
The Hawkeyes recorded a third-place finish at the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships over the weekend at Little Caesars Arena. Iowa had five All-Americans, including three seniors, who will leave large Asics to fill.
Iowa loses 44 1/2 of its 74 points, but plenty of experience returns. There still are some high expectations for the Hawkeyes, considering incoming talent, some of the younger wrestlers already in the room and the belief one of college wrestling’s best competitors will return.
“We have a crop of recruits coming in that we’re excited about,” Brands said. “We have some guys who have been in redshirt for two years we’re excited about. We have some guys that glimpsed the lineup this year once or twice that we’re excited about.
“We have Spencer Lee coming back that we’re excited about.”
Lee had his fifth season cut short, needing surgery to repair anterior cruciate ligaments in both knees. He wrestled in just one event in December. The three-time NCAA champion and two-time Hodge Trophy winner could receive a medical hardship waiver and get a shot at a fourth title.
He serves as an immediate boost that includes 2022 197-pound runner-up Jacob Warner and two-time All-America heavyweight Tony Cassioppi. Warner, a senior who had a team-high in tournament points, confirmed Friday night he would return for his COVID season.
“Yeah, I'm getting my master's so I have to take one more year ... kind of works out perfect for me to come back and wrestle,” Warner said. “... I've been wrestling since I was 6, so I don't know what else I would do.
Brands noted senior 149-pounder Max Murin will be back after his second NCAA appearance. Drake Ayala (125), 184-pounder Abe Assad and Nelson Brands (174/184) also return with national tournament experience.
Iowa will have to find someone to step in for some key seniors. Offensive dynamo Austin DeSanto (133), NCAA finalist Jaydin Eierman (141), All-American Kaleb Young, four-time Big Ten champion Alex Marinelli and the program’s first five-time All-American, Michael Kemerer, are done.
Their steady production, performances and presence will be hard to replace.
“These guys have been really good for this program,” Brands said. “They’ve done some things and turned some things around, as far as real work on the recruiting.
“It’s hard to put into words what they mean. They mean a lot.”
Iowa freshman Cullan Schriever saw time at 133. Freshman Wyatt Henson was 12-1 in open tournaments at 141. Patrick Kennedy (165), NAIA national champion Brennan Swafford and Zach Glazier could play roles in the upper weights.
“We’re going to be reloading,” Marinelli said. “We’re going to be good. We’re going to be coming for a national title. I believe that.”
Iowa State returns 3 All-Americans
Iowa State had a top-10 finish among its goals this season. The Cyclones stumbled in the postseason with slow starts at the Big 12 and NCAA tournaments.
They closed strong in consolation rounds, getting good performances from David Carr (157), Marcus Coleman (184) and 197-pounder Yonger Bastida, allowing Iowa State to place 17th with 37 points.
Carr, the 2021 national champion, finished third. Bastida and Coleman posted their first All-America finishes, getting fifth and seventh, respectively.
“These guys are all back next year,” Coach Kevin Dresser said. “That’s pretty exciting.”
Kysen Terukina (125), Ramazan Attasauov at 133, 174-pounder Joel Devine and heavyweight Sam Schuyler return with NCAA experience for a team that went undefeated in Big 12 duals. The way the Cyclones rebounded from a tough first day is something to build on for next year.
“Just the results of the weekend don’t show the whole body of work,” Dresser said. “What these guys were able to do as a team in dual meets this year was pretty phenomenal on the road and to finish on Friday and Saturday, like they did, shows a lot of character about this team.”
Parker Keckeisen will lead UNI again
Northern Iowa could be poised for another big step forward next season. The Panthers are stacked with experience, returning all eight NCAA qualifiers and 141-pound alternate Cael Happel.
Parker Keckeisen leads the way after posting his second straight third-place finish.
UNI has national tournament performances in 125-pounder Brody Teske, Kyle Biscoglia (133), Colin Realbuto at 149, 157-pounder Derek Holschlag, Austin Yant at 165, Lance Runyon (174) and heavyweight Tyrell Gordon.
Every wrestler won at least one match, helping UNI to fifth in the team standings after the first day. The Panthers ended up 20th overall.