By Tyler Devine
Michael Kemerer has wrestled for a Big Ten title twice at two different weight classes and has come up short.
On Sunday, the senior from Murrysville, Pa., will try a third time to win his first individual Big Ten title.
Kemerer is one of five top-ranked Hawkeyes with a chance to win a Big Ten title on Sunday, but coach Tom Brands doesn’t want his wrestlers to rest on their laurels.
“Opening comment number one, there’s a lot of wrestling to do,” Brands said. “Opening comment number two, we’ve got to get ready to wrestle tomorrow. Opening comment number three, we’re going to have some tough matches. This is the qualifier and we’re going to another tournament. We’ve got to stay tough, keep doing what we’re doing.
“We have some guys in the finals and we’re going to have to go out and be ready, ready. And I mean ready, ready.”
Kemerer was the Big Ten runner-up at 157 pounds in 2017, and at 174 pounds in 2020.
On his way to the finals, Kemerer pinned Jared Krattiger of Wisconsin in 1:30 in the quarterfinals and beat Logan Massa of Michigan by decision 4-2 in the semifinals.
While Kemerer made his way to the finals, his teammates that came after faltered.
Jacob Warner lost 3-1 to Michigan’s Myles Amine in sudden victory at 197 pounds, and heavyweight Tony Cassioppi was pinned my Michigan’s Mason Parris in just 58 seconds.
Junior 149-pounder Max Murin also was eliminated from the tournament after two defeats.
“You look at firepower, you want it all the way through your lineup,” Brands said. “You don’t want to be critical. We’ve still got wrestling to do. I’m going to leave the criticism and the nitpicking out of this conversation because we’ve got another day. Cassioppi did some good things against a guy who sometimes makes him look maybe a little bit like a fish out of water. But today he did some good things and then ends up with a deep elbow. We’ve been with a deep elbow with that guy before and we just can’t get in those positions.”
Iowa finished the night with in first place with 123 team points, with Penn State and Nebraska trailing with 92 and 88 points, respectively.
Two-time national champion 125-pounder Spencer Lee was dominant once again with victories coming by technical fall and fall.
In the semifinal match, Lee pinned Rayvon Foley of Michigan State in 23 seconds to tie the record for third-fastest pin in Big Ten Championships history.
“It was just about scoring points,” Lee said on Big Ten Network. “I ended up getting a quick takedown, then I hit a tilt and he kind of pinned himself. You take what you can get and that was there, I guess.”
Senior 133-pounder Austin DeSanto beat Illinois’ Lucas Byrd in a 5-4 decision to advance to his first Big Ten finals.
Senior Jaydin Eierman was clinical in his 7-1 victory over Chad Red of Nebraska in the 141-pound semifinal.
Eierman seeks his fourth conference title on Sunday, three of which came at Missouri in the Mid-American Conference.
Kaleb Young and Alex Marinelli also are in the finals at 157 and 165 pounds, respectively.
Marinelli, a senior from Miamisburg, Ohio, is seeking his third Big Ten title, while Young is seeking his first.
Sophomore 184-pounder Nelson Brands earned an NCAA Tournament berth with a 5-2 win over Rocky Jordan of Ohio State in the wrestlebacks.