IOWA CITY — Carver-Hawkeye Arena hasn’t been very kind to 133-pound visitors in recent years.
There have been dual-altering pins, thrilling upsets and a few straight beatdowns.
Austin DeSanto has continued that trend and made another memorable contribution Sunday night.
Second-ranked DeSanto scored three takedowns and posted a convincing win over top-ranked NCAA champion Seth Gross, highlighting top-ranked Iowa’s dominant 32-3 Big Ten Conference dual victory over No. 6 Wisconsin at home in front of 10,603 fans.
For the second straight year, DeSanto has beaten a national finalist at Carver. Last season, it was Rutgers’ Nick Suriano. These were moments he considered when he transferred to the Iowa program before his sophomore season.
“I knew what I wanted when I came here,” DeSanto said. “That crowd, that arena, being in the spotlight a bit, wrestling those top-ranked guys and competing at the highest level out there and in the room.”
DeSanto ignited the crowd with his attacks, scoring a takedown in the first and two more in the second. Gross’ style can bait opponents into making attempts, then he counters for his own points. DeSanto avoided those situations with strong, quick finishes, cutting the corner on the initial takedown and winning a scramble for another.
“He’s a competitive athlete, so you have to do that with everybody,” DeSanto said. “He’s lanky, funky. You have to explode right through him. He’s a competitor.”
The performance demonstrated growth. Gross initiated offense early with low-single leg shots, but DeSanto fended those off to force stalemates. Soon after, DeSanto became the aggressor and capitalized on his efforts.
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“We did a good job, making an adjustment after those first one or two times he was in on us,” Iowa Coach Tom Brands said. “One time, we stood there and looked at him and kicked out. Another time, we stood and looked at him and were draped over. After that, he really didn’t sniff us.”
DeSanto maintained his composure throughout the match, including a third-period rideout by Gross. He said he received some helpful reminders from his corner. DeSanto also has been focused on improving that aspect.
He has tried to adopt a “cool, calm, collected” mantra and it paid dividends Sunday night in the win.
“I work on it every day,” DeSanto said. “It’s just something you work on and you get better at it. You keep getting better at it. Expect things and you do it right. You do it right in the room, you prepare for it and the outcome is what it is.”
Brands said DeSanto’s progress is a testament to him, teammates and the coaching staff.
“He’s open-minded and receptive,” Brands said. “He knew he had to get better in that area and knows he still has to get better. He’s definitely come a long way.”
Alex Marinelli (165) and Tony Cassioppi added big wins as well.
Fifth-ranked Marinelli topped No. 2 Evan Wick 4-2 in a battle of two-time All-Americans, recording bookend takedowns in the first and third.
It was Marinelli’s fourth straight victory over Wick in five college bouts.
“It doesn’t make it harder,” Marinelli said. “I just think it’s another guy in my face, another guy on the mat. I have to get my hand raised.
“I honestly love competing against the guy because it’s a fun competition. Everyone loves it. … All those top guys in the country, you love that. You’ve got to love it. If you don’t love it, I don’t know why you’re out on that mat.”
Cassioppi, a freshman ranked 12th, closed the dual with a marquee win, using a first-period takedown and an escape in the second to beat No. 3 Trent Hillger 3-2.
“He gets ready to wrestle these matches,” Brands said. “He goes out there and he performs, and then it’s not a big deal anymore, because he knows there are more fish to fry.”
Iowa received bonus points from a pin by Michael Kemerer at 174 and a 16-0 technical fall from Spencer Lee.
The Hawkeyes dominated Wisconsin on their feet, owning a 22-3 takedown advantage. Wisconsin didn’t score a takedown in the first six matches and had to wait 41:23 of match time before earning its first. Iowa scored the first and last takedown in every match it won.
“Starting off strong and finishing strong,” Marinelli said. “Score first, score fast, keep scoring. That is what Terry always says. That means controlled attacks. Not just going out there and going crazy. It’s going out there and imposing your will on your opponent and showing you are the toughest man in the country.”
Iowa improved to 3-0 overall and 1-0 in the Big Ten. Wisconsin fell to 6-1 and 0-1 in the conference.
“You can make statement wins anytime,” Brands said. “Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas. You just have to keep getting better as you go forward. Peaking is a mindset.”
Iowa 32, Wisconsin 3
(Individual takedowns in parentheses)
125 — Spencer Lee (I) tech. fall Michael Cullen, 16-0 (1,0)
133 — Austin DeSanto (I) dec. Seth Gross, 6-2 (3,0)
141 — Max Murin (I) dec. Tristan Moran, 3-2 (1,0)
149 — Pat Lugo (I) dec. Cole Martin, 5-3 (2,0)
157 — Kaleb Young (I) dec. Garrett Model, 12-6 (4,0)
165 — Alex Marinelli (I) dec. Evan Wick, 4-2 (2,0)
174 — Michael Kemerer (I) pinned Jared Krattinger, 5:47 (5,1)
184 — Johnny Sebastian (W) dec. Cash Wilcke, 7-5 SV2 (2,1)
197 — Jacob Warner (I) dec. Taylor Watkins, 5-2 (2,0)
Hwt. — Tony Cassioppi (I) dec. Trent Hillger, 3-2 (1,0)
Takedowns — Wisconsin 3, Iowa 22. Reversals — Wisconsin 1, Iowa 3. Escapes — Wisconsin 24, Iowa 9. Nearfall points — Wisconsin 0, Iowa 16. Penalty points (awarded) — Wisconsin 0, Iowa 0. Riding-time points — Wisconsin 0, Iowa 1. Total match points — Wisconsin 32, Iowa 76. Attendance — 10,603. Officials — Peter Mankowich, Jaime George.
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