IOWA CITY — Austin DeSanto was on Iowa’s radar before he gained attention for beating future teammate Spencer Lee in the Pennsylvania state finals as high school seniors.
Hawkeyes Coach Tom Brands has said his brother and associate head coach Terry Brands wanted to sign DeSanto when he lost to Lee as juniors. Lee even tried to get him to join him instead of spending a year at Drexel.
DeSanto doesn’t regret that he spent one season with the Dragons, reaching the NCAA quarterfinals as a true freshman.
“I’m more grateful that I am here,” DeSanto said, “and that everything has worked out.”
Eighth-ranked DeSanto remained hot and defeated his second consecutive top-10 opponent, scoring a takedown with a little more than a second left for a 6-4 decision over Rutgers’ third-ranked NCAA finalist Nick Suriano Friday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Hawkeyes won the dual 30-6.
DeSanto improved to 12-1 this season and is securely in the national title conversation at 133 pounds.
“I’m getting better,” DeSanto said. “This is the place to be. This is a family here. They are trying to get us better every day. It’s working.”
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After a scoreless first period, Suriano appeared in control with an escape and takedown for a 3-0 lead. DeSanto began to chip away, pushing the pace and taking advantage of a double-stall call in the first.
DeSanto got on the board with a second-period escape. In the third, he scored consecutive points on penalties for second and third stall calls on Suriano. He escaped to take a 4-3 lead, even though Suriano had enough riding time for a point to tie it.
DeSanto continued to press and dropped in on a single and finished for the decisive takedown in the final second for the victory.
“I got to my tie,” DeSanto said. “He was blocking off with the fingers a little bit. We were going at it. Once I kept getting that tie, I hit it. I kind of surprised myself a little bit. I need to fire more shots off and do a lot more things, but I cut that corner. I’ve really been working on that finish there.”
The downside of DeSanto’s intensity and aggressiveness is that it has extended beyond the match. Iowa has lost a team point in each of the last two meets for unsportsmanlike conduct from his post-match actions.
DeSanto said he screamed in Suriano’s face and that he has to be calmer all the way to the locker room.
“I have fight in me, but I don’t need to scream in his face,” DeSanto said. “It’s not cool. He did nothing to me.
“I’m just emotional about it, but you have to keep it in check.”
Lee said DeSanto can be intense in practice, wanting to get better. He gets fired up before the match and is so amped afterward that everything pours out.
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“He’s working on it,” Lee said. “I know he gets a lot of negative attention for the last two matches and we’re working on it because we love him and he believes in us.
“He’s an emotional kid.”
Lee provided a spark right out of the gate. He took Nick Denora to his back in the opening seconds at 125, adjusting after another turn and recording a fall in just 38 seconds. Sophomore Alex Marinelli added a pin at 165 for Iowa, which built a 23-6 lead with two matches remaining and improved to 8-0 overall and 3-0 in the Big Ten.
Rutgers fell to 7-4 and 1-2.
IOWA 30, RUTGERS 6
125 pounds – Spencer Lee (I) pinned Nick Denora, :38; 133 – Austin DeSanto (I) dec. Nick Suriano, 6-4; 141 – Max Murin (I) dec. Peter Lipari, 8-4; 149 – Anthony Ashnault (Rut) dec. Pat Lugo, 3-1 SV1; 157 – Kaleb Young (I) dec. John Van Brill, 5-2; 165 – Alex Marinelli (I) pinned Anthony Oliveri, 2:17; 174 – Joseph Grello (Rut) dec. Mitch Bowman, 7-3; 184 – Cash Wilcke (I) dec. Willie Scott, 6-1; 197 – Jacob Warner (I) dec. Matthew Corrrenti, 6-0; Hwt. – Sam Stoll (I) major dec. Christian Colucci, 10-0.
*-Iowa was deducted a team point for unsportsmanlike conduct after 133-pound match.
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