Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide. To receive daily news from the Iowa Hawkeyes, sign up HERE.
By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Michael Kemerer and Jason Nolf grew up in Pennsylvania and began competing at the same wrestling club when they were 7-years-old.
In high school, Kemerer competed for Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville, Nolf at Kittanning in Yaesboro. Their schools were in different classes — Kemerer in Triple A, Nolf in Double A — and they never wrestled at the same weight class.
That changes Friday when Kemerer, a redshirt freshman at the University of Iowa, and Nolf, a sophomore at Penn State, will meet in a No. 1 versus No. 2 matchup at 157 pounds on Mediacom Mat.
The third-ranked Hawkeyes and second-ranked Nittany Lions square off at 8 p.m. (CT) inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Tickets are available for purchase HERE; the dual will be televised on BTN.
“The competitive side of me says it doesn’t matter, it’s another opponent and person that is out there trying to beat me,” said Kemerer, who is ranked No. 2 at 157. “He’s someone I have to go out and beat, but it’s cool to see we’re still wrestling 13 years later.”
Kemerer and senior Thomas Gilman are the only Hawkeyes with unblemished records this season. Kemerer leads the team with 19 wins, five coming via major decision, four by technical fall, and two pins.
He is 4-0 against ranked opponents with a win over Nebraska’s fifth-ranked Tyler Berger at the Midlands in December and Oklahoma State’s sixth-ranked Joe Smith last weekend in Stillwater.
Friday provides Kemerer his stiffest challenge. Nolf was the Big Ten and Intermat Freshman of the Year in 2016, finishing as the Big Ten and NCAA runner-up at 157 pounds. He has won all 12 of his matches with bonus points this season, posting seven pins, four technical falls, and one major decision.
“I have to do the same things I have been doing to this point,” said Kemerer. “I need to go out and wrestle every position hard for the entire seven minutes. I need to wrestle in the positions I want to be in, doing what I do best.”
UI head coach Tom Brands expects Kemerer to wrestle like he’s capable and to rise to the occasion.
“When it’s a match like this, you have to pick it up a little bit,” said Brands. “Even though your approach might be the same, there might be more octane, a little more to it, and you have to get up a little more. It makes it more fun and interesting for the fans.
“This is what you live for, you don’t shy away from these matches, you live for these matches. I am anticipating that our guy is going to be ready to go.”
Kemerer isn’t caught up in the No. 1 versus No. 2 hype. He isn’t distracted by wrestling against his home-state team.
“(Wrestling Penn State) doesn’t do anything extra for me, other than the fact I know some of the guys on their team,” said Kemerer. “It will be different seeing them out here, but as far as the wrestling side, it’s another opponent and team in front of us we have to beat.
“It’s all about focusing on my performance and doing the best I can. I don’t think about rankings, I just go out and wrestle.”