116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
This was the dominant performance expected from Iowa.
Just look at the numbers. The Hawkeyes crowned four champions, six made the finals, nine wrestled to their seed or higher and they earned a second straight conference title by more than 35 points.
The results are fine and dandy, but they're already focused on the next opportunity - the NCAA Championships.
'Let's do it again,” said Iowa Coach Tom Brands, who was named Coach of the Year after Iowa captured its 37th team title Sunday at the Big Ten Championships at Bryce Jordan Center in University Park, Pa. 'You mention something about finishing at your seed and performing above the expectations and that's what competitors do. Let's do it in St. Louis.”
The Hawkeyes posted a 9-3 record on the final day, tallying 159 1/2 points and defeating host Penn State by 35 1/2, which is the largest margin of victory by a Big Ten champion since Iowa won in 2010.
Iowa received titles from Spencer Lee (125), Jaydin Eierman (141), 165-pounder Alex Marinelli and Michael Kemerer at 174. Lee, the reigning Hodge Trophy and Sullivan Award winner, was named Big Ten Wrestler of the Year for the second straight season.
Lee stepped to the mat with Iowa ahead by 23 points and still within reach of lead host Penn State. He helped Iowa close in on another team title with a 21-3 whipping of Purdue's Devin Schroder. After giving up the opening takedown, Lee (7-0) scored the final 16 points of the match for his second technical fall of the season to go along with five pins.
'This was the qualifier for the next thing and the next thing is the NCAA tournament,” said Lee, a two-time conference titlist looking for his third national title next week. 'I don't want you to think I don't appreciate winning, but this was the next thing and as soon as it's over you have to get ready for what's next … NCAA, Olympic Trials. We were in a tight team race. I did my job for the team.”
Eierman was the one who clinched the team title with his 6-5 decision over Penn State's Nick Lee. He, too, surrendered the opening takedown but answered with one of his own. His first-period rideout helped secure 1:26 of riding time at the end for the decisive point.
'This is why I transferred,” Eierman said in a post-match interview. 'To get better and better every day.”
The three-time All-American transfer from Missouri wasn't satisfied with close victory. He looks to widen the gap in less than two weeks.
'I'm regretting that match,” Eierman said. 'It should have been way worse but it's a learning point. I'm going to be a different animal come March 20 when I'm standing in the national finals ready for everybody.”
Marinelli won his third consecutive Big Ten title, becoming the first Hawkeye to win three in a row since Doug Schwab and T.J. Williams did it from 1999-2001. Marinelli scored a takedown in the second period for a 3-2 decision over Ohio State's Ethan Smith.
'It's just as sweet,” Marinelli said. 'I'm just happy to be alongside my guys. That's what really matters, the team bonding, team camaraderie and just getting that team trophy.”
Kemerer also made his third finals appearance but this time walked away with gold against a Penn State foe. Kemerer racked up two takedowns and two nearfall in a 7-2 decision over Carter Starocci, who was conference Freshman of the Year. Kemerer became Iowa's 117th Big Ten champion.
'It sounds great but you know the mentality,” Kemerer said. 'We have work to do. We have bigger things coming up in two weeks, but I'm blessed. I'm thankful. I'm ready to move forward.”
Austin DeSanto (133) and Kaleb Young at 157 reached the finals and placed second.
The three heaviest weights provided a boost Sunday morning. Iowa went 3-for-3 in the consolation matches, outscoring their opponents 12-0. Tony Cassioppi capped the round with a pin over Ohio State's Tate Orndorff at heavyweight. Cassioppi and 197-pounder Jacob Warner each finished third.
Nelson Brands was one of the Hawkeyes who wrestled above his seed. He came in as the ninth seed at 184. Brands won three consecutive consolation matches after reaching the quarterfinals. He placed fourth and was one of nine Hawkeyes to earn automatic berths to the NCAA tournament March 18-20 at Enterprise Center in St. Louis.
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