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Iowa heavyweight Tony Cassioppi excited for next chance to compete
Iowa dual against Oregon State canceled; Army will fill void Sunday at 2 p.m.
IOWA CITY — Tony Cassioppi is excited for his next match.
The approach is standard in the Iowa wrestling program, which subscribes to the mantra that the upcoming competition is the most important. For the junior heavyweight, it applies a little more than normal, coming off an uncharacteristic upset in the season-opening dual.
“I don’t know how many days it has been but it feels like it has been a while,” said Cassioppi, who was ahead before being reversed and pinned by Princeton’s Jack Del Garbino last Friday. “I’m ready to get back out on that mat.”
Cassioppi will look to rebound Sunday when the top-ranked Hawkeyes host Army at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, beginning at 2 p.m. He will have to wait an extra day after Oregon State, which experienced travel difficulties from Corvallis, Ore., to Iowa City on Friday, was ultimately forced to pull out of the meet altogether. Army, already in Iowa to face Iowa State in Ames on Saturday, will fill the void created by the Beavers.
“It’s not what I wanted,” said Cassioppi, who won the U23 World title earlier this month. “It was a tough (last) Friday night, but I’m moving on, now. We’re on to the next thing, learning from it and just getting better.”
Iowa Coach Tom Brands said eight days — now nine — isn’t quite a quick turnaround, but it is short compared to international wrestling or if it had happened at the end of the season. The topic was a subject of discussion earlier this week.
“We talked about it last week,” Brands said. “We talked about the timing. It’s November and the good thing is you’re putting it past you, meaning Tony Cassioppi is putting it past him.”
A delicate balance exists between accepting and learning from it and having it linger. Cassioppi is fixed on progress and looking forward.
“It’s not going to affect me,” Cassioppi said. “It’s obviously not something I’m happy about. I’m moving on from it and my wrestling is getting better from it. Just continue to improve it.”
In the bout, Cassioppi scored the only takedown. As he attempted a turn, Del Garbino rolled through on the edge of the mat, Del Garbino came out on top for the first-period fall. The biggest lesson from the match is recognizing opponents’ tendencies.
“Just being uber aware,” Cassioppi said. “Picking up on things. Like Tom was talking about, that little explosion he had and hit that little switch when I was taking him down the first time. Be more ready for those explosions and being really, really smart.”
Brands said serious wrestlers, like Cassioppi and his Iowa teammates, return to basics without drastic changes, devoting effort to correct mistakes. He added there are a lot ways wrestlers can prepare for a fall instead of just quickly horsing over a foe.
Brands described legend Dan Gable’s physical and tenacious style that broke opponents that led to pins.
“He didn’t just run out there and throw a bar (arm) and half (nelson) on him and pin him,” Brands said. “Gable’s pins were grinding.
“I think Cassioppi can do that. We’ve had a couple of guys here that have had to learn to do that and not too long ago.”
The Hawkeyes rallied around their two-time NCAA medalist. Cassioppi had plenty of support from a close-knit team.
“All those guys had my back,” Cassioppi said. “They were there for me for anything I needed.”
Brands said Cassioppi has handled the setback well. His demeanor has been more focused and dwelling on it isn’t an issue.
“I’m seeing a little more business-like. Maybe not as many smiles and stuff,” Brands said. “He’s certainly not in despair.”
Iowa (1-0) has won 19 straight duals. The Hawkeyes’ depth has been on display with some new faces stepping in for lineup mainstays.
NCAA finalist Michael Kemerer is expected to get “the nod” Saturday for his season debut after Nelson Brands wrestled at 174 pounds last week. Jesse Ybarra is expected to compete in place of three-time NCAA champion and two-time Hodge Trophy winner Spencer Lee.
Cobe Siebrecht, who won the Luther Open and posted a first-period technical fall against Princeton’s Josh Breeding, is the only 149-pounder listed in the probable lineup. Brands noted that either Abe Assad or Myles Wilson could get the call at 184. All-American Jacob Warner and Zach Glazier own the same odds to be the starter, according to Brands.
“We want our best lineup out every time,” Brands said. “This is an ultra-competitive deal that we’re running here.
“We don’t hesitate to put our best team out there, so we can create depth. I said this last week but who is to say that wasn’t our best lineup? I love it that we have several options at 10 weight classes.”