IOWA CITY — Austin DeSanto had been waiting for this moment since he decided to continue his wrestling career at the University of Iowa.
Hawkeye fans were just as eager to watch his high-pace style and ability to stockpile points complement NCAA champion Spencer Lee.
DeSanto ignited the modest Iowa crowd off 7,940, recording a second-period fall in his debut at Carver-Hawkeye Arena and helping the third-ranked Hawkeyes to a 31-10 victory over Princeton Friday night in the home opener.
DeSanto’s fall bridged the gap between Lee’s 18-2 technical fall of 21st-ranked Patrick Glory at 125 and a fall by 141-pounder Max Murin, a redshirt freshman also making his first start in CHA.
“I felt good,” DeSanto said. “After Spencer did his job, I knew I had to do mine
“The arena was awesome. It was real awesome. It’s a fun crowd.”
DeSanto wrestled last season for Drexel. The Dragons didn’t have the following that Iowa has, leading the nation in average dual attendance. The loud, knowledgeable and sometimes rowdy fans make a difference, giving him a boost as he tried to finish off Jonathan Gomez.
“You get it tighter,” DeSanto said about the feeling when the crowd’s roar swelled. “It pumps you up. You get chills. It’s cool.”
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DeSanto scored a pair of takedowns in the first and opened the second with a reversal, taking Gomez to his back ending the match in 3:27.
“The kid was trying to roll,” DeSanto said. “They’re big into those rolls. We drilled that a million times. Be ultra-aware with everything.”
Murin finally got his shot in front of the home crowd. He redshirted last season and experienced this setting.
“It’s a great feeling,” Murin said. “I’ve been waiting for this for a long time.
“I’ve been sitting in the stands for a year, so it felt good to finally step on the mat.”
Murin racked up two takedowns in each of the first two periods, building an 8-3 lead before cradling and decking Marshall Keller in 4:23, giving Iowa a 17-0 lead. He admitted he received a jolt from the performances of Lee and DeSanto.
“It’s awesome,” Murin said. “I wouldn’t want to follow (any) two other guys in the country. I think those guys set the tone with their pace and pressure. It is awesome following them.”
Iowa Coach Tom Brands noted that both need to improve some minor technical issues slowing themselves down early.
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“Their pace is high, but they ironed some things out where they got a little bit better feel in there,” Brands said. “I tell you what, you’re going to have an even faster pace. It’s going to be hard to keep up with them, but we have to keep getting better.”
Two matches pitted ranked opponents. Lee dominated the opener, getting a takedown and 12 nearfall points in the first. He closed it in the second with a takedown and two more back points.
Iowa’s No. 12 Pat Lugo’s first home match came against top-ranked Matthew Kolodzik in the top pairing of the night. Kolodzik scored a takedown with 17 seconds left in the first for an early lead. He closed with five points in the third, including a reversal to break a 3-3 tie and a late takedown for a 7-4 decision.
Brands said Kolodzik executed a well-timed strategy they have seen from him in the past.
”There’s still some things he’s dealing with so we’re going to get better every day there,” Brands said. “We’re better now than we were at the beginning of the night at that weight.”
Iowa (3-0) received a fall from fourth-ranked All-American Alex Marinelli at 165. Kaleb Young (157), Cash Wilcke (184) and heavyweight Aaron Costello won decisions. Costello, a redshirt freshman from Western Dubuque posted a 6-0 victory over Obinna Ajah.
The Hawkeyes were still without 174-pounder Michael Kemerer, Jacob Warner at 197 and heavyweight Sam Stoll. Brands said the team has to improve on technique and other things, while getting healthier.
“What you saw out there was 60 to 70 percent of our lineup,” Brands said. “That’s good news because we got some depth.”
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