Iowa Hawkeyes

Iowa's Jaydin Eierman drops Olympic champion at Hawkeye Wrestling Club Showdown Open

2-time NCAA champion Spencer Lee dominates with a pin in first match in eight months; Pat Lugo also posts victory

-- Hawkeye Wrestling Club Showdown Open on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020, in Xtream Arena & GreenState Family Fieldhouse in Coral
-- Hawkeye Wrestling Club Showdown Open on Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020, in Xtream Arena & GreenState Family Fieldhouse in Coralville, Iowa. (Photo by Darren Miller)

CORALVILLE — Jayden Eierman’s decision to transfer to the University of Iowa wasn’t just to help the Hawkeyes win a national championship.

The three-time All-American left Missouri during his Olympic redshirt season and arrived in Iowa City, in part, to prepare for post-collegiate freestyle competition.

The move seemed like the right one after earning a marquee victory Sunday night. Eierman exploded for two late takedowns for a 4-1 victory over former Georgian Olympic champion Vladimer Khinchegashvili in the Hawkeye Wrestling Club Showdown Open at Xtream Arena. Iowa’s two-time NCAA champion Spencer Lee also won on the nine-match freestyle main card that was preceded by an eight-match undercard.

“It is my biggest win, but I’m not going to let that solidify who I am,” Eierman said. “I need to go out there and get one of my own. He was an Olympic champion in 2016. I’m going to have to work hard every single day up until the Olympic Trials to be to where I need to be to get my Olympic medal.”

Eierman has been in Iowa City for about a year now. A Tiger can change his stripes and he’s all Hawkeye now. He shared that message with the camera for the livestream audience afterward.

“I feel like I’m part of this community now,” Eierman said. “I feel like it’s going to get better and better. I have a college season coming up. I’m going to compete with the Hawkeyes. I’m going to help them compete for a national title this season.”

Early exposure points were overturned early in the match and Eierman trailed 1-0 at the break of two three-minute periods. He went on the offensive, firing off a double leg attack for a takedown and 2-1 lead. Moments after the restart he hit the same move again.

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“Fake, fake, fake, blew him off his feet and then went back to it,” Iowa Coach Tom Brands said. “Great wrestling. Shut the guy down pretty good.”

Eierman said he has heard critics comment that he doesn’t have the ability to create his own shot. He said his attacks and shape are improving with each day in the room. Eierman was confident he always has that ability to score.

“I knew I would get it,” Eierman said. “I just had to get my fakes and timing. I just hit it perfectly and knew what I needed to do.”

Eierman was one of only two Iowa/HWC wrestlers at the U.S. Senior Nationals at the same venue earlier this month. He advanced to the semifinals, but this outcome was much better.

“He wrestled a good match,” Brands said. “A little redemption there for him. This match meant a lot to him, getting back in the saddle, so to speak, after getting fifth in this building a couple weeks ago. Awesome.”

Lee was his dominant self in his first match since winning the Big Ten Championships in March. Lee opened the main card with a first-period fall of former Minnesota wrestler Zach Sanders.

Lee notched an immediate takedown, adding two quick turns for a 6-0 lead. Once they went back to their feet, Lee hit a whip over for an 8-0 lead before getting the fall in 1:13.

Lee said he didn’t know his opponent until three weeks ago. His first choice was Japanese World Champion Yuki Takahashi.

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“They told me who it was and I was ready to go,” Lee said. “It didn’t matter who it was. You have to compete the same way, the best guy in the world. It doesn’t matter who he was. Just have to get ready to go.”

Brands said that Lee mentioned he felt a bit slow on the mat, although he did not appear to have much rust. He looked strong given the circumstances.

“Good job,” Brands said about Lee. “Pretty good performance for feeling like your timing wasn’t there and stuff.”

HWC member and Iowa All-American Pat Lugo defeated former Princeton All-American Matthew Kolodzik in what could have been a national title match, if the NCAA tournament wasn’t canceled in March. Lugo scored two late takedowns to go with two first-period pushouts in a 7-2 decision.

Michael Kemerer, Alex Marinelli, Austin DeSanto and Tony Cassioppi dropped matches. DeSanto fell to two-time Wyoming NCAA finalist Bryce Meredith. Marinelli gave up a big four-point move in the second period and lost to three-time World medalist James Green, 5-4.

Kemerer scored the first and last takedown but dropped a 10-6 decision to former North Carolina State wrestler Tommy Gantt. Wolfpack teammate and world medalist Nick Gwiazdowski teched Cassioppi, 10-0.

Kemerer, Marinelli and DeSanto surrendered points in situations unique to freestyle as opposed to folkstyle. Mat awareness was key and their foes capitalized on it. The bouts were a good learning experience.

“Now, it’s a different game,” Brands said. “The positive is that the freestyle game is what we’re learning and that savviness makes us better all-around.”

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Two women’s matches graced the main card. Precious Bell defeated Jordan Nelson, 9-0, scoring four takedowns. Erin Golston led 10-0 after a takedown and four exposures, continuing for the fall in 57 seconds over Devyn Gomez, who was a late replacement for world silver medalist Sarah Hildebrandt.

The women’s competition was an important part of Sunday night’s event.

“We take it serious,” Brands said. “We want to get the women back on campus. Right now, we don’t have any women training.”

One notable undercard win was Nelson Brands’ 9-0 victory over Abe Assad. Iowa fans also got their first look at highly-touted freshman Patrick Kennedy, who beat Myles Wilson, 8-5. Lisbon duo Carter Happel and Cobe Siebrecht also won matches.

Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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