Iowa Hawkeyes

Big Ten Wrestling Championships: Iowa wins first outright title since 2010 with 3 champions

Spencer Lee, Pat Lugo and Alex Marinelli take gold as Hawkeyes total 157.5 points

Iowa's Spencer Lee, left, defeats Purdue's Devin Schroder in the 125-pound final at the Big Ten Wrestling Championships
Iowa's Spencer Lee, left, defeats Purdue's Devin Schroder in the 125-pound final at the Big Ten Wrestling Championships at the RAC in Piscataway, N.J., Sunday, March 8, 2020. (Andrew Mills/NJ Advance Media via AP)

Tristan Warner, correspondent

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — The Iowa wrestling team captured its 36th Big Ten Team championship on Sunday afternoon at the Rutgers Athletic Center.

The Hawkeyes accumulated 157.5 team points to capture the outright conference title, while second-place Nebraska was 25.5 points behind. Ohio State, Penn State and Purdue rounded out the top five. It’s Iowa’s first title since 2015 and first outright championship since 2010.

“We need to give ourselves some credit,” Iowa Coach Tom Brands said. “With NCAAs coming up in two weeks, it is easy to turn our focus, but this was a job well done. We are not downplaying this. It was a battle, but we got the job done and done well.”

The Hawkeyes crowned three individual champions, as Spencer Lee (125), Pat Lugo (149) and Alex Marinelli (165) won their respective weights, while Michael Kemerer (174) finished as runner-up.

Winning his first-ever Big Ten title, Lee wasted little time in the final, scoring early and often during a 16-2 major decision over No. 2-seed Devin Schroder of Purdue.

“It is just a conference tournament,” Lee said. “I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do. I’m just focused on scoring points and getting to my offense. If I’m thinking too much that means I’m wrestling bad. I have to go back and make some improvements before the national tournament.”

Fifth-year senior Pat Lugo captured his first Big Ten title with a 2-1 win over top-seeded Sammy Sasso of Ohio State. The veteran Hawkeye scored a first period takedown and fended off a late leg attack by Sasso to secure the victory.

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In one of the day’s most exciting bouts, Marinelli avenged his only loss of the season, finishing a sweep single with under 15 seconds in regulation to defeat two-time NCAA Champion Vincenzo Joseph of Penn State.

“I love competing with that guy,” Marinelli said. “It’s always fireworks. He is on my mind a lot, but I try to just take it one match at a time. Coach Brands always preaches to stay in your match, and when the moment came, I attacked it.”

No. 1-seed Kemerer suffered his first setback of the season, dropping a hard-fought 8-5 decision to Penn State’s Mark Hall. Kemerer gave up a quick takedown and two-point nearfall from a backdoor scramble position as the official began a count in the danger zone. Kemerer scored a late takedown but his comeback attempt was thwarted as time expired.

Overall, the Hawkeyes placed nine wrestlers in the top four, and all 10 Hawkeyes are advancing to the 2020 NCAA Championships in Minneapolis.

Austin DeSanto (133) finished in fourth place in a loaded 133-pound bracket, falling to former NCAA champion Seth Gross of Wisconsin, 6-3, for third.

Max Murin (141) was taken down in sudden victory by Nebraska two-time All-American Chad Red before accepting a medical forfeit to finish in fifth place.

Freshman Abe Assad (184) used a spin-around takedown in the second sudden victory to outlast former Western Dubuque prep Max Lyon of Purdue in the consolation semifinals but fell to Nebraska’s All-American Taylor Venz in the third-place match.

Iowa’s Jacob Warner (197) dominated fifth-seeded Lucas Davison of Northwestern, 9-3, before winning by injury default over Shakur Rasheed from Penn State for third place.

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Tony Cassioppi (285) electrified the Hawkeye faithful with a first period fall over Nebraska’s David Jensen, using an elevator off the Husker’s shot to secure the pin in Sunday’s consolations. The freshman heavyweight then controlled Wisconsin’s Trent Hillger, 4-0, to finish third.

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