It’s the matchup everybody’s been talking about. No. 2 Penn State in Carver-Hawkeye Arena facing No. 1 Iowa and its killer lineup of nine top ten ranked wrestlers. Man, was it close, closer than anyone expected. The Lions were right on track, with a little extra wiggle room thanks to an unexpected injury default, but a misstep by veteran No. 1 Mark Hall opened the doors for Iowa to close in on the win.
In order for Penn State to win, the team needed their unranked wrestlers to hold the damage to decision wins, an upset or two and the top-ranked guys needed to take care of business with guaranteed wins. Brandon Meredith did the best he could with top-ranked powerhouse Spencer Lee at 125 and gave up a tech fall.
Then, there’s never a dull moment when No. 2 Austin DeSanto on the mat. This much-anticipated matchup with PSU’s No. 3 RBY started off quickly with DeSanto shots. About 10 seconds in, a DeSanto shot resulted in scramble and RBY came out with a tight cradle that looked like it would lead to some big points. DeSanto started screaming and called for an injury timeout. It wasn’t clear what was hurt, it looked like his face but after a quick timeout and a look at his knee, action resumed with RBY down on the mat. He quickly escaped and scored a takedown to lead 3-0 then DeSanto escaped at the 1:20 mark. The Hawkeye connected on a low single, which Bravo-Young countered and locked up another cradle. As RBY took DeSanto to his back, which again looked like it was going to result in a big win for RBY, DeSanto called for another injury timeout and mouthed to his coaches that he couldn’t continue. RBY was awarded the injury default win and Brands must’ve said something to the refs because Iowa had a team point deducted. Penn State took a 6-4 lead in the team score after two, which no one was expecting.
With six team points, Penn State needed to hold on to the lead. No. 2 Nick Lee extended it with a tech fall, then Jarod Verkleeren and Bo Pipher limited the damage against their highly ranked opponents to keep Penn State in the lead going into the break, 11-10.
Another huge matchup at 165 was a rematch of No. 1 Vincenzo Joseph and No. 2 Alex Marinelli. Marinelli had never lost a match at home in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The first two periods were full of great shots and impressive counters. After Marinelli escaped early in the second, Joseph locked him up standing up and threw him to his back for 2 and 4 back points, nearly getting the pin and a 6-1 lead. Marinelli halted Joseph’s momentum with a reversal right at the end of the period and closing the gap 6-3 heading into the third. Joseph escaped at the 1:30 mark of the third and went on the defense. Marinelli got one more takedown but it wasn’t enough and Joseph won the hard-fought bout, 7-5.
With a 14-10 lead after 6 bouts, things were looking solid for Penn State. No. 2 Michael Kemerer was new to the 174 weight class and after No. 1 Mark Hall’s electric performance from last week, this matchup was definitely in favor of the Nittany Lions. Hall threw Kemerer to the mat early in the first, which apparently wasn’t a takedown, and Kemerer countered and was awarded 2 points. Penn State challenged the no call, but to no avail. Hall quickly reversed after the reset and Kemerer escaped, 3-2. Hall worked in on a low shot and got another takedown, then he was trying to lock up a strong hold to gain some riding time and literally slid off of Kemerer’s back allowing the Hawkeye to quickly turn and get the reversal with 10 seconds left in the second period. This was seemingly the end of the bout. Hall couldn’t connect on any shots in the third and looked defeated, which he was, 11-6.
Now with some serious work to do and in need of two upsets, the Lions carried on. No. 9 Aaron Brooks took care of business with some great technique for an upset-win over No. 6 Abe Assad. Then, No. 18 Shakur Rasheed continues to make his slow return to the mat after 10 months off with a knee injury and was able to fight off No. 7 Jacob Warner and hold him to a 4-2 decision win.
Once again, it all came down to the heavyweights. Both freshman, No. 15 Seth Nevills faced No. 3 Tony Cassioppi in a rawring Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Cassioppi had Nevills beat in weight, but Nevills had some length on him. Cassioppi connected on a single in the first, which Nevills was able to counter, forced a scramble and nearly notched the takedown for himself, but Cassioppi had Nevills arm hooked and was able to move around Nevills for two points. Cassioppi was just too heavy and too strong on top, Nevills couldn’t escape and chose neutral for the second period. The two battled evenly and no one scored in the second. Cassioppi chose down to start the third and quickly escaped. He then picked up a second takedown and Penn State fans let out a heavy, heartbreaking sigh. The match ended 7-0 and Iowa clinched the win.
The Lions head home to Rec Hall to meet Maryland on Sunday, Feb. 2 at 2pm EST. The match will be available on BTN+ and you can listen for free on LionVision.
BOUT BY BOUT:
125: IOWA No. 1 Spencer Lee IOWA tech fall PSU Brandon Meredith PSU, 16-1 (TF; 3:17)
133: PSU No. 3 Roman Bravo-Young inj. def. IOWA No. 2 Austin DeSanto, Inj.Def. (1:50)
141: PSU No. 2 Nick Lee tech fall IOWA Carter Happel, 20-5 (TF; 5:53)
149: IOWA No. 3 Pat Lugo IOWA dec. PSU Jarod Verkleeren, 6-1
157: IOWA No. 5 Kaleb Young IOWA dec. PSU Bo Pipher , 6-1
165: PSU No. 1 Vincenzo Joseph PSU dec. No. 2 Alex Marinelli IOWA, 7-5
174: IOWA No. 2 Michael Kemerer dec. PSU No. 1 Mark Hall, 11-6
184: PSU No. 9 Aaron Brooks PSU dec. IOWA No. 6 Abe Assad, 7-3
197: IOWA No. 7 Jacob Warner IOWA dec. PSU No. 18 Shakur Rasheed, 4-2
285: IOWA No. 3 Tony Cassioppi dec. PSU No. 15 Seth Nevills PSU, 7-0