116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DETROIT — Wild. Crazy. Unthinkable.
All those adjectives are apt descriptions of the competition during the first day of the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships on Thursday at Little Caesars Arena.
The day filled with upsets entertained the 34,600 fans that attended the first two sessions in person and countless others watching from afar. Third-ranked Iowa and Iowa State weren’t immune to the mat madness.
The Hawkeyes still managed to push six into Friday’s quarterfinals and hold fifth place in the team standings with 20 1/2 points. All 10 Hawkeyes remain alive with four in consolation competition.
Austin DeSanto (133), Max Murin (149), 165-pounder Alex Marinelli, Michael Kemerer (174), Jacob Warner at 197 and heavyweight Tony Cassioppi all went 2-0 on Day 1, moving within a victory of All-America honors.
“We’ve got 10 matches (Friday),” Iowa Coach Tom Brands said. “We have to be ready to go.
“I don’t know the matchups right off the top of my head. We know it’s going to be a battle. We have to love a battle.”
Penn State was in first after Day 1. The Nittany Lions have six semifinalists and 27 1/2 points. They also have three in the consolation bracket. Arizona State is second with 22, a half-point ahead of third-place North Carolina State. Michigan is fourth at 21. Northern Iowa is one spot back of Iowa with 15.
Cassioppi led the way in the second round. The third seed posted a 12-3 major decision over Illinois’ Luke Luffman.
Like the opening session, DeSanto got the Hawkeyes started. He used takedowns in the second and third periods to beat Pitt’s Mickey Phillippi. 5-2. DeSanto beat Phillippi at the national tournament for the second straight year, dropping him by major decision in last year’s quarterfinals.
DeSanto, a two-time NCAA placewinner, has reached the quarterfinals in all four of his appearances.
Max Murin continued a strong start with an 8-4 decision over Oklahoma State’s Kaden Gfeller, tallying three takedowns to reach the quarterfinals against Cornell’s top-seeded and returning NCAA champion Yianni Diakomihalis.
Senior Alex Marinelli kept his title hopes alive, handling Virginia’s Justin McCoy, 8-2. Kemerer joined Marinelli in the quarters with a 9-4 win over South Dakota State’s Cade DeVos, who is a former Southeast Polk prep.
Warner notched an escape and takedown in the second period to edge Purdue’s Thomas Penola, 3-1, to reach the quarterfinals. He opened with a major decision shutout in his first bout.
The Hawkeyes’ Jaydin Eierman and the Cyclones’ David Carr were two of the upset victims in a day that saw five wrestlers seeded 15 or worse, including three 21st or worse, to reach the quarterfinals.
Second-seeded Eierman and North Carolina’s No. 15 Kizhan Clarke battled to a 2-2 tie after regulation with Clarke getting the opening takedown and Eierman accumulating two escapes. The pair were locked in a scramble toward the end of sudden victory when Eierman appeared to be close to the winning score.
Clarke continued to wrestle, coming out with Eierman’s leg and finishing the takedown. A long official’s review and multiple conferences followed, but Clarke’s score was upheld, knocking Eierman into the consolation bracket.
Kaleb Young (157) made it two sudden victory losses for Iowa in the second round, falling to Michigan’s Will Lewan, 3-1.
“You don’t score takedowns in those matches it’s hard to win matches without takedowns,” Brands said. “You’ve got to score takedowns and when there are openings that are little tiny openings you’ve just got to go. You’ve got to make it happen somehow. We didn’t make it happen. It’s double elimination. We have another opportunity.”
Carr, the top seed at 157 and defending NCAA champion, won his 55th straight match in the first round. The streak was snapped by Oregon State’s No. 17 Hunter Willits, who beat Penn State’s Brady Berge to start his tournament.
The pair exchanged escapes in regulation. Sudden victory was scoreless, setting up the two 30-second periods in tiebreaker-1. Willits rode Carr out in the first tiebreaker period. Willits managed an escape with just one second left in the second stanza, avoiding another sudden victory period and earning the 2-1 upset.
Iowa State was 0-3 in the second round, going 4-14 the entire day. Marcus Coleman (184) and 197-pounder Yonger Bastida lost close matches. Coleman lost to Illinois’ Zach Braunagel in sudden victory, while Bastida lost a 1-0 decision to Missouri’s Rocky Elam.
“I don’t think there are many positives, right now,” Iowa State Coach Kevin Dresser said. “I think there will be positives in the future. I think you have to screw it up to get it right. We definitely screwed it up today in a lot of places. Blame goes across the board with everybody.
“We’ll sit back and look at what we could have done different today, but I can tell you that I liked the effort really across the board.”
Dresser said the Cyclones have thrived in close matches, including one-point contests. That didn’t go their way Thursday.
“Maybe the law of averages got us a little bit,” Dresser said. “You’ve got to figure out how to win those matches here.”
The Cyclones’ Ian Parker (141) was still alive in consolation bracket.
“We’ll find out what they’re made of,” Dresser said of the four remaining Cyclones. “I think they’ll be fine. I think they will do a good job.”
Drake Ayala (125) and Abe Assad (184) won wrestleback matches. They demonstrated what Iowa will need to do to respond.
“Abe Assad loved to battle out there this round,” Brands said. “That’s what we have to look like. We have to be fast, smart, tough and we’ve got to score points.”
Purdue 184-pounder and former Western Dubuque two-time state champion Max Lyon was still alive in the consolation bracket, winning two bouts after a first-round loss.
South Dakota State’s Tanner Sloan, a two-time state champion for Alburnett rebounded from a heartbreaking sudden victory match to Ohio State’s No. 21 Gavin Hoffman, who also upset Pitt’s fifth-seeded Nino Bonaccorsi to reach the quarterfinals.
Sloan beat Northwestern’s Andrew Davison, 5-0, in the consolation bracket.