116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY - One familiar face. Another a bit fresher.
Iowa wrestling fans were treated to a pair of debuts. Three-time All-American Michael Kemerer took the mat for the first time this season, while freshman Drake Ayala took off his redshirt for the 125-pound starting spot.
Kemerer posted one of seven Iowa victories in a 22-10 Big Ten Conference dual win over No. 14 Minnesota Friday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The top-ranked Hawkeyes won their 25th straight dual and 24th straight conference opener.
Iowa (7-0-, 1-0 Big Ten) held a big advantage in matches, but managed just one bonus-point victory, including four decided by two points or less. It didn’t set well with Iowa Coach Tom Brands.
“You’ve got to be ready when you step on the mat,” Brands said to close the post-meet news conference. “That’s probably why I’m agitated. You’ve got to be ready when you step on the mat and we’ve got to be ready against Purdue (on Sunday).”
The Hawkeyes opened with four straight wins for a 13-0 lead, starting with Alex Marinelli’s 6-5 decision over Cael Carlson at 165.
When Kemerer was announced at 174, the sold out crowd erupted. He delivered in his first match since the 2021 NCAA finals, scoring three takedowns in a 9-2 triumph over Bailee O’Reilly.
“It felt good to be out there,” Kemerer said. “It’s good to get that first match and excited to keep getting better (and) with this team.”
Ayala stepped in after Spencer Lee opted for season-ending knee surgeries. He received the call over redshirt freshman Jesse Ybarra, who wrestled the first three duals and owned a 5-1 record.
“It comes down to our best chance and his willingness and everything that goes into something like that,” Brands said. “There’s communication and you’re seeing his results the last couple months.”
Ayala did not experience the same fortunate outcome as Kemerer. He faced All-American Patrick McKee for the third time in the last month and second time in a week.
Ayala (10-3) scored the first takedown and added one as the match ended but McKee matched the two takedowns, taking him down to his back for a crucial four-point move in the second, for an 8-6 win.
McKee has accounted for all three Ayala losses, winning by a combined seven points.
“We come back to the center and our hands are on our knees,” Brands said. “We’ve got to be so aware. You don’t go back to the center with your hands on your knees. That guy blast doubles us and when you’re up in the air, scrambling and not sure which way is up or down you’re going to get counts against you. He did a good job coming off his back. I’ll give him credit there.
“He’s a little bit in the fire, right now. I’m sure we will come out of this just fine.”
Abe Assad looked sharp at 184. He tallied five takedowns in a 12-4 major decision over Sam Skillings. Assad managed to overcome Minnesota’s strategy of clinging and slowing down the pace.
“Abe comes out ready to go and those weren’t easy points,” Brands said. “He earned them. He wrestled hard.”
Jacob Warner’s two first-period takedowns were enough for a 6-4 victory over Michial Foy at 197. Austin DeSanto (133), 141-pounder Jaydin Eierman and Max Murin added decisions for Iowa.
The premiere matchup came at heavyweight between Minnesota’s Olympic and NCAA champion Gable Steveson and Iowa’s No. 6 Tony Cassioppi.
Steveson demonstrated his dominance with seven takedowns, adding two nearfall and a riding-time point for a 17-7 major decision. He improved to 5-0 in college against Cassioppi, receiving a standing ovation from the crowd before he left the mat.
Minnesota (1-2, 0-1) also received a win from fourth-ranked Brayton Lee at 157. He used a late takedown to edge Kaleb Young, 4-3.
AT IOWA CITY
Iowa 22, Minnesota 10
(Individual takedowns in parentheses)
165 pounds – Alex Marinelli (I) dec. Cael Carlson, 6-5 (2,1); 174 – Michael Kemerer (I) dec. Bailee O’Reilly, 9-2 (3,0); 184 – Abe Assad (I) major dec. Sam Skillings, 12-4 (5,0); 197 – Jacob Warner (I) dec. Michial Foy, 6-4 (2,1); Hwt. – Gable Steveson (M) major dec. Tony Cassioppi, 17-7 (7,0); 125 – Patrick McKee (M) dec. Drake Ayala, 8-6 (2,2); 133 – Austin DeSanto (I) dec. Jake Gilva, 7-5 (3,0); 141 – Jaydin Eierman (I) dec. Jake Bergeland, 6-2 (2,0); 149 – Max Murin (I) dec. Michael Blockhus, 3-1 (1,0); 157 – Brayton Lee (M) dec. Kaleb Young, 4-3 (1,1).
Takedowns – Minnesota 12, Iowa 21. Reversals – Minnesota 0, Iowa 0. Escapes – Minnesota 22, Iowa 19. Nearfall points – Minnesota 4, Iowa 0. Penalty points (awarded) – Minnesota 1, Iowa 1. Riding-time points – Minnesota 3, Iowa 1. Attendance – 14,905.