116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DETROIT — The start was a bit ominous.
A quick recovery made things more favorable.
Third-ranked Iowa overcame a setback in its opening match and rebounded to win eight of the last nine matches, sitting in a tie for second place after the first session of the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships on Thursday at Little Caesars Arena. The Hawkeyes posted an 8-2 record in the first round, matching Michigan with 12 1/2 points and trailing Penn State by three.
During a six-match win streak, Iowa received a technical fall from fifth-seeded 133-pounder Austin DeSanto, a pin from Max Murin (149) and a major decision from No. 6 Jacob Warner at 149, which was good for 4 1/2 extra team points. Something the Hawkeyes will need to produce each round.
“We got bonus points at three weights,” Iowa Coach Tom Brands said after the first session. “We need more bonus points and we need to win tough matches. There is a lot of wrestling left.”
DeSanto sparked the Hawkeyes with a 19-3 thumping of Air Force’s Sidney Flores, recording the final two-point nearfall just past the midway point of the second period. DeSanto notched his team-high 11th technical fall of the season.
Second-seeded Jaydin Eierman followed with an 11-4 decision over Franklin & Marshall’s Wilfredo Gil, just missing another team bonus point.
Murin provided a key boost, turning a likely major into a fall against Central Michigan’s Corbyn Munson. He posted his fourth takedown of the match and second of the second period when he managed to put Munson on his back, leading by seven. Munson appeared to fight off and avoid the pin, but Murin flipped him again, keeping his foot in, and getting the fall.
Kaleb Young added a decision and senior Alex Marinelli was workmanlike in a 7-2 win over Drexel’s Evan Barczak.
The Hawkeyes seemed loose early in the week, but were business-like Thursday.
“We compete with intensity, a lot of fight, grit and resilience,” Marinelli said Monday. “We’re going to stick to what we know. We’ve got business to take care of. We always step on the mat expecting to win and expecting to fight. It’s the same thing every time, but it’s the biggest stage in college wrestling and that’s the national tournament. We’ve got to take each match as the finals.”
Senior Michael Kemerer (174), Warner and heavyweight Tony Cassioppi closed the round without surrendering a point. Kemerer and Cassioppi each had 4-0 decisions, using a takedown, escape and riding-time point. Kemerer managed his 10th victory of the season, while Cassioppi improved to 16-2.
Kemerer is a step closer to becoming an All-American for the fifth time after reaching the finals last season and placing third and fourth his first two seasons. He also earned National Wrestling Coaches Association first-team honors in 2020 when the national tournament was canceled.
“It’s good having gone through the tournament, knowing what to expect (and) what it feels like to be out there,” Kemerer said during the team’s pre-tournament media availability. “That helps.”
Warner looked strong in his 8-0 victory over Northern Colorado’s Alan Clothier. His first-period takedown gave him a 2-0 lead after one. He added two nearfall in the second. Warner closed with a quick escape and takedown in the third, earning a riding-time point for the extra team point.
Freshman 125-pounder Drake Ayala and sophomore Abe Assad dropped their opening matches for Iowa. Ayala gave up four nearfall in the second, which was the difference in a 12-9 outcome. Assad, seeded 18th, lost to Virginia Tech’s No. 15 Hunter Bolen, 6-3.
Penn State went 7-2 and Michigan went 8-1 in its first-round matches.