Iowa wrestling team finishes second behind Penn State at Big Ten Championships
Top seeds Spencer Lee and Real Woods win individual titles for Iowa
ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Top seeds Spencer Lee and Real Woods won Big Ten Conference individual titles and Lee took home two of the top individual honors on Sunday night at the 2023 Big Ten Championships at Crisler Arena.
Lee was voted the Big Ten Wrestler of the Year for a third time in his career (2020, 2021) and he was selected as the Outstanding Wrestler of the Big Ten Championships for the first time in his career. He went 3-0 with two technical fall victories and outscored his opponents, 45-4.
He is the second Hawkeye all-time to earn three Big Ten Wrestler of the Year honors, joining Mark Ironside (1996, 1997, 1998) as a three-time recipient. Iowa has had 11 wrestlers garner 13 Outstanding Wrestler of the Championships honors and 10 wrestlers have garnered 15 Big Ten Wrestler of the Year accolades.
Lee and Woods are the 209th and 210th Big Ten champions in program history. Woods is the 118th Big Ten champion all-time. Both were named to the 2023 All-Big Ten team.The Hawkeyes had all 10 wrestlers place in the top seven of the championships with all 10 qualifying for the NCAA Championships later this month in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Iowa finished the tournament with 134.5 points to finish as the team runner-up, while Penn State won the title with 147 points.
“We have to be tougher in tough situations, tougher in tough positions, we have to score points, be more efficient in putting points on the board and if we can do that, maybe we can put ourselves in contention in Tulsa,” said Iowa head coach Tom Brands. “If we don’t do that, the result will be similar.”
Lee won his third Big Ten title, winning an 8-2 decision over Nebraska’s second-seeded Liam Cronin in the finals at 125. The win was Lee’s 55th consecutive victory.
“It was a good game plan, he was pushing a lot and pushing the pace,” said Lee. “He wanted to push me around a little bit and force things. Usually he rolls a lot more when we wrestle. People game plan, it’s the Big Ten finals. Guys have to be ready to go and he was ready to go.”
The Pennsylvania native is Iowa’s 19th three-time Big Ten champion. He previously won titles in 2020 and 2021, while finishing as the runner-up in 2019. Lee is now 17-0 this season with 15 bonus point victories.
“We have a lot to work on as a team. We’re still grinding as a team, it was a tough tournament,” said Lee. “I feel like I improved a lot this weekend in a lot of areas, but I have a lot to work on as well.”
Woods won his first Big Ten title and his third conference crown overall with a 2-1 win over third-seeded Brock Hardy of Nebraska. Woods had a first period takedown before Hardy rode out Woods in the second, while adding a stalling point.
After starting neutral in the third, Woods fought off two shot attempts in the final minute to claim the title at 141 pounds. He previously won Pac-12 titles in 2020 and 2022.
“I had to keep my hands fighting,” said Woods. “That’s the most important part of leg defense when someone is in on you. I had to continue to stay in good position as well as I could.
“I have a lot of pride in what I did. I planned to come out on top coming into this tournament and I did, but also a lot to learn from. I am excited for the next two weeks to develop what I need to develop and make the small improvements I need to make.”
“Woods persevered,” said Brands. “He has had two matches with that guy and they have taken a lot of points off the board in those matches. He is a cool cucumber, a cool cat. His teammates love him, we love him, the fans love him. He persevered.”
In the third finals match, sophomore Patrick Kennedy dropped a 9-6 decision to top-seeded Dean Hamiti at 165. Kennedy finished as the Big Ten runner-up in his first postseason tournament as a Hawkeye.
The Hawkeyes won all four of their consolation matches during the finals session. Senior Max Murin beat Penn State’s Shayne Van Ness for the second time this tournament, winning by a 3-2 decision to place third and senior Tony Cassioppi won a 10-1 major decision over Ohio State’s Tate Orndorff at 285 to finish third.
“If I learned one thing since I have been at Iowa, it’s get the next best thing,” said Murin. “It’s not what I wanted or what I came here to do, but I took the loss in the semis and the mission stayed the same. Get the next best thing.”
Senior Nelson Brands avenged a regular season loss in the fifth-place match, downing Illinois’ fifth-seeded Edmond Ruth, 5-1. Senior Jacob Warner also placed fifth at 197, getting a medical forfeit victory over Michigan State’s Cameron Caffey.
“We have guys that are making progress, whether it’s one thing or another,” said Tom Brands. “I am not going to get into specifics of that progress, but there is progress. We have to be at our best, we have to be at our best in Tulsa, Oklahoma.”
- The Hawkeyes wrestled above their seeds at four weight classes – 133, 149, 165, 174.
- Lee has won 55 consecutive matches, the eighth longest streak in program history.
- Woods has won 16 consecutive matches, the longest winning streak of his collegiate career.
- Murin finished third at the Big Tens for a second straight year.
- Cassioppi finished in the top three at Big Tens for the fourth time in his career.
FINAL TEAM STANDINGS
1. Penn State 147.0
2. IOWA 134.5
3. Nebraska 104.5
4. Ohio State 99
5. Michigan 84.5
6. Minnesota 79
7. Northwestern 78.5
8. Wisconsin 55.5
9. Purdue 47.0
10. Illinois 46.5
11. Rutgers 32
12. Indiana 30
13. Michigan State 28.0
14. Maryland 24.0
1st: Spencer Lee (125), Real Woods (141)
2nd: Patrick Kennedy (165)
3rd: Max Murin (149), Tony Cassioppi (285)
5th: Nelson Brands (174), Jacob Warner (197)
7th: Brody Teske (133), Cobe Siebrecht (157), Abe Assad (184)
125 – #1 Spencer Lee (UI) dec. #2 Liam Cronin (NEB), 8-2
141 – #1 Real Woods (Or ) dec. #3 Brock Hardy (NEB), 2-1
165 – #1 Dean Hamiti (UW) dec. #2 Patrick Kennedy (UI), 9-6
149 – #4 Max Murin (UI) dec. #5 Shayne Van Ness (PSU), 3-2 – 3rd place
174 – #7 Nelson Brands (UI) dec. #5 Edmond Ruth (ILL), 5-1 – 5th place
197 – #5 Jacob Warner (UI) wins by medical forfeit Cameron Caffey (MSU) – 5th place
285 – #3 Tony Cassioppi (UI) major dec. Tate Orndorff (OSU), 10-1 — 3rd place