Bonus points key in top-ranked Iowa wrestling wins over Purdue and Ohio State
Hawkeyes extend Big Ten dual win streak to 23 on Sunday
By Tyler Devine
Bonus points were crucial for the top-ranked Iowa wrestlers in dual meet victories over No. 18 Purdue and No. 11 Ohio State on Sunday in West Lafayette, Indiana.
The shorthanded Hawkeyes won 13 matches, scoring bonus points in 10, in 31-18 and 33-14 wins over the Boilermakers and Buckeyes, respectively, to improve to 5-0 on the season and extend its Big Ten dual win streak to 23.
Iowa was without head coach Tom Brands, 165-pounder Alex Marinelli, and 157-pounder Kaleb Young, all due to COVID-19 protocol.
Marinelli and Young are ranked second and fifth, respectively, by TrackWrestling.
Top-ranked 125-pounder Spencer Lee also did not wrestle against Purdue due to a coach’s decision.
“You’re going in there and you have these matchups – Young is out, Marinelli is out, Lee is out,” Brands said via Zoom. “And you’re in a hole, but you don’t have to be. You’re in a hole, but these guys just go out and wrestle ice cold. That’s really a good sign of a seasoned competitor. Eierman, big bonus points. Spencer Lee, bonus points. DeSanto, I saw on TV that he’s averaging 20 points a match. That’s a high pace.”
Fourth-ranked 133-pounder Austin DeSanto won both of his matches by technical fall, while top-ranked 141-pounder Jaydin Eierman and third-ranked heavyweight Tony Cassioppi pinned both of their opponents.
DeSanto and Eierman both improved to 5-0 on the season, while Cassioppi improved to 4-1.
DeSanto, a senior from Exeter, Pennsylvania, has outscored his opponents 102-26 this season, while Cassioppi has pinned three straight opponents since losing by major decision to top-ranked Gable Steveson of Minnesota.
“If you recall my comments on Tony Cassioppi we’re very high on him,” Brands said. “We’re going to have to do some things that are extraordinary to take out a guy like Steveson, but just because you have to do something extraordinary doesn’t mean that it can’t happen.”
Sophomore Aaron Cashman, one of three Hawkeyes to make their Big Ten dual debut, filled in for the two-time national champion Lee against Purdue but lost by technical fall to Purdue’s No. 11 Devin Schroder.
Iowa junior Zach Axmear also made his Big Ten dual debut in the 157-pound match, losing to Purdue’s seventh-ranked Kendall Coleman by major decision 18-6.
Redshirt sophomore Joe Kelly fell to 0-2 in place of Marinelli at 165 pounds, surrendering a fall to Purdue’s Gerrit Nijenhuis in a match in which Kelly failed to score to cut Iowa’s lead to 16-15.
“These guys, I’ll tell you, we had some backups in there and I think they can probably do a little better job than what they’re showing,” Brands said. “But they didn’t, and there was a lot of bonus points scored by us, but there was a lot of bonus points scored by our opponent, as well.”
Iowa’s top-ranked 174-pounder Michael Kemerer pinned Purdue’s Emil Soehnlen in the second period to improve to 3-0 on the season before No. 9 Nelson Brands fell to Purdue’s No. 20 Max Lyon in a hotly contested 184-pound match.
Nelson Brands, who is the son of associate head coach Terry Brands, trailed 1-0 in the third period before Lyon scored a four-point near fall to put him up 5-0.
With Iowa clinging to a 22-18 lead against the Boilermakers, fourth-ranked 197-pounder Jacob Warner won by decision and Cassioppi won by fall in the first period to secure a 31-18 win for Iowa in the first dual of the day.
Iowa now has won 32 consecutive duals against Purdue dating back to 1961.
Iowa came out firing against Ohio State in the second dual of the day.
Lee won by fall over Ohio State’s Brady Koontz in 1:32 and now has pinned each of his first four opponents this season in the first period.
In four matches this season, Lee has spent less than 7:30 on the mat and now owns a 26-0 career record in Big Ten duals.
DeSanto and Eierman followed with a technical fall and a fall, respectively, as the Hawkeyes jumped out to a 17-0 lead before fifth-ranked 149-pounder Max Murin suffered his first loss of the season by fall to Ohio State’s second-ranked Sammy Sasso.
Murin previously beat Purdue’s Trey Kruse by technical fall in his first match of the day.
Out of context, it would appear that Sasso dominated Murin, but the match was evenly contested until Sasso got Murin out of position and on his back with less than 30 seconds left in the third period.
“Against these better guys you’re going to have to get two hands to the leg,” Brands said. “And then you’re going to have to be able to post and drive up through the guy’s hips, or come up underneath him and lift two hands and one leg without being extended, and it was like a hang on. You just can’t hang on there, and that’s what happened.”
Freshman Bretli Reyna lost his Big Ten dual debut to Ohio State’s Elijah Cleary in the 157-pound match, followed by Axmear’s second loss of the day, this time a technical fall at the hands of Ohio State’s sixth-ranked Ethan Smith.
With a 17-14 lead, Iowa took control of the dual with wins at 174, 184 and 197 pounds, including a major decision by Warner over Ohio State’s Chase Singletary, to extend its lead to 27-14 before Cassioppi capped off the dual with his second fall of the day.
Iowa returns to action against No. 4 Penn State on Feb. 12 in State College, Pennsylvania.