Iowa Hawkeyes

Big Ten Wrestling Championships: Iowa sends 4 to finals, leads team race

Hawkeyes have 121.5 points, 19 ahead of Nebraska

Iowa head coach Tom Brands. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Iowa head coach Tom Brands. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — The Iowa Hawkeyes wrapped up the first day of action at the 2020 Big Ten Wrestling Championship in first place with 121.5 points, 19 points ahead of second-place Nebraska.

Spencer Lee, Pat Lugo, Alex Marinelli and Michael Kemerer each earned victories Saturday night to advance to the finals, as Iowa went 4-3 in the semifinal round. Austin DeSanto, Abe Assad and Tony Cassioppi dropped into the consolation semis.

“(Sunday) is a big day,” Iowa head coach Tom Brands said. “I don’t know the point totals exactly, but I know we are leading. I am focused on (Sunday). We have to keep progressing. We need to keep scoring bonus points. Even guys who are facing adversity need to keep scoring bonus points.”

Lee continued his dominant season, pinning Rutgers’ Nic Aguilar in Session I before accruing a 19-3 technical fall over Michigan’s Jack Medley in the semis. The two-time NCAA champion will be seeking his first Big Ten title when he takes on Purdue’s Devin Schroder in the 125 final.

Lugo (149) cruised to a dominant 11-3 major decision over Nebraska’s Collin Purinton in the quarterfinals before upending Minnesota’s No. 3 seed Brayton Lee, 4-1, by way of a third-period escape, takedown and riding time point. Lugo will face top-ranked Sammy Sasso of Ohio State in Sunday’s final.

Setting up a highly anticipated rematch with Penn State’s Vincenzo Joseph, Marinelli (165) dismantled Illinois’ Danny Braunagel in the quarterfinals, 14-2, before flattening surprise semifinalist Shayne Oster of Northwestern in 2:41.

Kemerer (174) made quick work of Michigan State’s No. 8 seed Layne Malczewski, slapping consecutive cradles together before securing a first-period fall.

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In the semis, the top-seeded Hawkeye mounted a huge first period and never looked back, racking up a convincing 22-9 major decision over Minnesota’s returning All-American Devin Skatzka. Kemerer will square off with Penn State’s Mark Hall in the finals.

Freshman Assad reeled off back-to-back major decision victories in the opening rounds but faltered against second-seeded Cameron Caffey of Michigan State, as the Spartan used consecutive takedowns to drop the Hawkeye into the consolations via a 5-3 decision.

Cassioppi controlled Ohio State’s Gary Traub in the heavyweight quarterfinals, winning 4-0. In the semis, the freshman fell to returning NCAA finalist Gable Steveson of Minnesota, 8-4.

Hawkeye 133-pounder Austin DeSanto went 2-1 on the day, blasting through Ohio State’s Jordan Decatur and escaping to beat Nebraska’s Ridge Lovett, 1-0, in the quarters.

In semifinal action, second-seeded Roman Bravo-Young of Penn State struck with a quick takedown in the opening seconds of the bout and held off DeSanto for a 3-2 win.

Max Murin surrendered a late takedown off his own shot attempt in the waning seconds of his quarterfinal bout against sixth-seeded Mitch McKee of Minnesota, falling to the Golden Gopher senior, 3-1. In the wrestle backs, Murin punched his ticket to the NCAA Championships with wins over Matt Santos of Michigan State and Dylan Duncan of Illinois.

At 197, third-seeded Jacob Warner was topped by Penn State’s No. 6 seed Shakur Rasheed, 3-2, in quarterfinal action. Rasheed broke a 1-1 deadlock with under 30 ticks remaining, scoring off a Warner leg attack. Warner went on to string two wins together in the consolations.

The Big Ten finals, featuring four Hawkeyes, are set for 2:30 p.m. Sunday (BTN).

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