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ST. LOUIS, Mo. - Threes were wild for Iowa at the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships Friday night.
Spencer Lee earned a chance for title No. 3. Jaydin Eierman was successful in semifinal No. 3. Three years after his last national appearance, Michael Kemerer produced his best finish.
They gave top-ranked Iowa three finalists at Enterprise Center. The Hawkeyes maintained the team lead, albeit a smaller one, tallying 109 points with second-place Penn State 14.5 points back.
Top-seeded Lee remained his dominant self, posting major decisions over Purdue's Devin Schroder in the quarterfinals and then reaching another 125-pound championship bout with an 11-0 victory over Central Michigan's No. 4 Drew Hildebrandt.
Eierman (141) joined the Hawkeye leader in the finals with a pin over North Carolina State's Tariq Wilson, ending it with one second to spare in the first. He envisioned this moment when he chose to become a Hawkeye.
'Amazing, man,” Eierman said. 'The reason I came to Iowa was because I knew they could help me take my wrestling to the next level.
'Working on the basics, it paid off that match. I got my legs back and just put him to his back and do what I do best.”
Eierman thwarted a scoring attempt from Wilson and stuffed him on his back in the decisive sequence. Previous pressure helped wear Wilson down early.
'I could just feel him starting to fade as the match went on,” Eierman said. 'I knew if I just kept attacking it's just going to happen. It's going to be seven hard minutes to beat me but for me it's only going to take me 10 seconds to do something and put you on your back.”
The three-time All-American at Missouri lost in the 2019 and 2018 semifinals. Eierman finally got over the hump, but he's not satisfied with just getting there. The NCAA title is what he's worked for his whole life.
'It was great but we're still not done yet,” said Eierman, who pinned Central Michigan's Dresden Simon in the quarterfinals. 'We have a lot of unfinished business. We're going out one match at a time. We're going to go out there and do something great now, because I'm ready.”
Kemerer has overcome plenty of adversity since his last NCAA appearance. Injury kept him from competing two seasons ago. Last year, the pandemic wiped out the tournament. Now, Kemerer advanced further than ever.
The three-time All-American made his first semifinal appearance with a 13-4 quarterfinal win over the Wolfpack's Daniel Bullard. He reached his first final with an 8-1 decision over Cal Poly's Bernie Truax at 174.
'It's something I've dreamt and thought about for a long time,” Kemerer said. 'It's super exciting, taking it all in.
'These are awesome days of my life, right now, putting on this singlet and going out and competing. I'm cherishing every moment of it. I'm excited to do it again.”
Kemerer has thrived this tournament, scoring 60 points in four matches. He has bonus points in three of them. His approach is to score at all times.
'That's a big thing our program preaches, so sticking with that,” Kemerer said. 'That mentality, making it fun, going out looking to score points. Opportunities arrive and just capitalizing.”
Iowa went 3-2 in the semifinals. Austin DeSanto (133) and heavyweight Tony Cassioppi were knocked to the consolation semifinals but assured of a top-six finish. Jacob Warner also moved into the top six with two consolation wins after a quarterfinal loss.
'We still have a lot of wrestling to do,” Iowa Coach Tom Brands said after day two.
An up-and-down day hit a low point when top-seeded Alex Marinelli was upset by Stanford's Shane Griffith, 3-1, in sudden victory of the 165 quarterfinal. To make matters worse, Marinelli medical forfeited from the tournament one win shy of All-America status.
'He has his priorities in order,” Brands said. 'I'm not going to get into details.”
Iowa State's David Carr followed in some big footsteps when he went to Ames. His dad, Nate, is a Cyclones legend, winning three national titles from 1981-83. The decision has come with more excitement than stress, attempting to surpass his dad's achievements.
In his NCAA debut, he'll be wrestling for a title of his own. David Carr defeated North Carolina State's Hayden Hidlay, 6-4, in the 157 semifinal. He became the first Cyclone finalist since Kyven Gadson won the 197-pound title in this arena in 2015.
'I think my dad has prepared me for moments like this,” Carr said. 'My dad, being who he is, I knew that coming to Iowa State wasn't more pressure. It was just that I would come here, have fun, try to score points and break his records.”
Carr scored two vital takedowns. He got on the board with a takedown at the end of the first period, preventing Hidlay from escaping before time expired.
'It gave me a lot of confidence,” said Carr, who escaped in the second. 'The underhooks overwhelmed me just a little bit but I knew I had to get to my offense.”
Carr all but sealed the victory with a takedown in the final 48 seconds. He stayed on his offense, sticking to his strength.
'(Iowa State assistant Brent Metcalf) has been telling me to be the same and I know (for me) staying the same is going to get a takedown, no matter how much time is left. Just icing the match. That's what Metcalf preaches and that's what (Cyclones Coach Kevin) Dresser preaches.”
Iowa State pushed two into the semifinals. Heavyweight Gannon Gremmel beat Wisconsin's Trent Hillger in overtime of the quarterfinals. Gremmel fell to Michigan's second-seeded Mason Parris in the semifinals.
Northern Iowa will finish with one All-American. Parker Keckeisen reached the semifinals at 184 pounds. Penn State's top-seeded Aaron Brooks handed him his lone loss of the season with a 6-4 decision.
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