More from Iowa’s big weekend, UNI’s fifth straight dual win with a sweep of Bedlam foes, another road win for Iowa State, Wartburg topping Coe and conference tournaments aplenty. This is the Wrestling Weekend That Was:
More from Iowa’s big weekend
Top-ranked Iowa didn’t suffer any hangover from Friday’s 19-17 victory and instant classic over No. 2 Penn State. The Hawkeyes handled Michigan State, 32-3, with three reserves — 133-pounder Paul Glynn, Carter Happel at 141 and Jeremiah Moody (165) — in the lineup Sunday. All three won, by the way.
There is so much to digest from Friday’s dual. Austin DeSanto’s injury is a concern and the Hawkeyes will likely need his help to win their first NCAA team title since 2010. More information will hopefully be available this week on his status.
Iowa’s resilience was on display in front of the energized crowd of 14,905, which ranks seventh all-time in Carver-Hawkeye Arena and 18th overall in college wrestling.
Things could have unraveled a few times. After DeSanto’s injury default, again when Vincenzo Joseph topped Alex Marinelli in the first of two No. 1 vs. No. 2 individual matchups and when Aaron Brooks took the pairing of two highly-regarded freshmen.
Second-ranked Michael Kemerer was no doubt the star of the dual with his outstanding win over top-ranked Mark Hall. He withstood an early barrage and controlled the last two periods, putting up an unheard-of 11 points on Hall.
Who was the first to greet him, coming off the mat? Marinelli. You know, the guy that had just suffered a tough loss.
“That’s the kind of kid he is,” Kemerer said. “That is the kind of guys we have on our team. He’s a huge leader. He’s out there. He’s the first one through the tunnel, the coin toss, he’s such a vocal leader. The way he wrestles he exemplifies Iowa-style wrestling and he’s just a great teammate to have.
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“People have talked about how close we are all year. It’s not an act. It’s real.”
Let’s not forget Jacob Warner coming through with a hard-fought 4-2 victory in a battle of ranked foes at 197 when Iowa’s margin for error was gone. His win set up freshman Tony Cassioppi’s heroics, securing the victory.
Iowa won three of the last four weights.
“Everyone talks about Iowa being a lightweight school,” Kemerer said. “It’s good us bigger guys, I guess I’m with the bigger guys now, we can finally get some clout. It’s cool.”
UNI wins fifth straight
Northern Iowa claimed its fifth straight victory, beating Oklahoma, 25-13, at Norman, Okla., on Saturday. The Panthers swept both Big 12 Conference teams that participate in the Bedlam Series.
Remember when UNI started the season 1-3? Seems like a long time ago compared to their 6-3 mark now. Even more impressive is the Panthers are 5-1 in the conference with a chance at a Big 12 duals title. That didn’t seem likely after their loss to South Dakota State.
Against Oklahoma, UNI received bookend pins from Jay Schwarm (125) and heavyweight Carter Isley. Schwarm is always dangerous and now has 12 falls, tying Central Michigan’s Matt Stencel and Cornell’s Ben Darmstadt for the NCAA Division I lead.
Austin Yant (165) produced a strong win that was followed by victories from Bryce Steiert (174) and Taylor Lujan (184) against the Sooners.
Iowa State road warriors
Iowa State survived a busy January that originally had eight total events, including seven duals. The Cyclones won their third conference road dual Friday with a 34-9 victory at Fresno State. During the last month, Iowa State won at Utah Valley and at South Dakota State as well.
All-American Jarrett Degen return to the Cyclones lineup. His 4:27 pin over Greg Gaxiola at 149 capped a four-match win streak to open the dual. Degen has been sidelined by injury since the dual against Iowa on Nov. 24.
Wartburg continues conference streak
Top-ranked Wartburg won seven matches, receiving a pin from 184-pounder Kyle Briggs, to defeat No. 5 Coe, 24-12, at Kohawk Arena Thursday.
The Knights improved to 15-0 overall and 7-0 in the American Rivers Conference, formerly known as the Iowa Conference. They have not dropped a conference dual since February 1994. Wartburg hosts No. 2 Augsburg (Minn.) in the Battle of Burgs on Thursday, a rematch of the NWCA National Duals final won by the Knights.
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After Augsburg, Wartburg puts its streak on the line against No. 3 Loras on Feb. 14. Loras was voted the preseason No. 1 by ARC coaches.
Cael Happel reaches 100 wins again
For many years, the 100-win plateau has been a celebrated accomplishment for prep wrestlers. Cael Happel reached even more hallowed ground Saturday during the Tri-Rivers Conference tournament at Starmont High School in Arlington.
Happel (40-0) pinned his way through the bracket and notched his 200th career victory in the opening round. The three-time state champion has 202 wins and is tied for 15th all-time with Council Bluffs Jefferson’s Colton Clingenpeel (2013-16).
Happel has a chance to be Iowa’s 28th four-time state champion, joining his brother Carter Happel, who finished with a 209-1 record from 2013-16.
The question was not if, but by how much. Lisbon’s winning margin was more points than all but one other team scored during the Tri-Rivers Conference tournament Saturday. The Lions tallied 293 points, while Alburnett was second with 149. The difference was a whopping 144.
Lisbon placed all of its wrestlers in the top four with 12 finalists, including Braden Gladwin, who was filling in for top-ranked Marshall Hauck at 152. The Lions crowned more champions (eight) than they lost the entire day (seven). Impressive.
Will Esmoil wins fourth conference title
West Liberty’s Will Esmoil captured his fourth River Valley Conference title Saturday at Tipton.
Esmoil, ranked No. 1 in Class 2A at 152, wrestled 160. He pinned Mid-Prairie’s Cael Garvey in 41 seconds to achieve the feat.
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