By Tyler Devine
The top-ranked Iowa wrestling team will send three wrestlers to the NCAA finals on Saturday in St. Louis, Missouri.
The Hawkeyes head to Saturday in first place in the team standings with 109 points.
“A lot of good things going on,” coach Tom Brands said. “But we have to get ready for tomorrow.”
Iowa had five semifinalists, but senior 133-pounder Austin DeSanto and sophomore heavyweight Tony Cassioppi dropped their matches.
Cassioppi fell 16-6 to top-ranked Gable Steveson of Minnesota and DeSanto fell 3-2 to top-ranked Daton Fix of Oklahoma State.
DeSanto will face No. 3 seed Korbin Myers of Virginia Tech on the backside of the bracket Saturday. DeSanto’s highest career finish at the NCAA Championships is fifth.
Cassioppi, a No. 5 seed, will face No. 14 seed Trent Hilger of Wisconsin.
Senior 125-pounder Spencer Lee, a two-time national champion, will make his third career appearance after defeating No. 4 seed Drew Hildebrandt of Central Michigan 11-0.
Lee will face No. 3 seed Brandon Courtney of Arizona State in the finals on Saturday night.
Lee was seen limping a bit coming off the mat after his semifinal match, but did not indicate it has affected him.
“(I feel) fantastic,” Lee said. “How’s that?”
Senior 141-pounder Eierman will wrestle for his first career national title after pinning North Carolina State’s Tariq Wilson with one second to spare in the first period.
Eierman, a transfer from Missouri, will face Penn State’s Nick Lee whom Eierman beat in the finals of the Big Ten Championships.
“It was great,” Eierman said. “But we’re still not done yet. We have a lot of unfinished business, we’re just going out there one match at a time. We’re going to go out there and do something great. I’m ready. This is what I’ve worked all year for. This is what I’ve worked my whole life for and it’s starting to pay off and I’m happy.”
Senior 174-pounder Michael Kemerer beat No. 12 Bernie Truax of Cal Poly to advance to his first NCAA finals appearance.
“We know what his ceiling is and he hasn’t reached it yet,” Brands said.
Top-seeded senior 165-pounder Alex Marinelli was upset by No. 8 Shane Griffith of Standford in the quarterfinals.
Marinelli was eliminated from the tournament after medically forfeiting his blood round match against Cameron Amine of Michigan.
Marinelli, a native of Miamisburg, Ohio, missed the opportunity to become a four-time All-American.
Brands said Friday night that he was not going to get into the specifics of Marinelli’s injury.