By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Austin DeSanto hasn’t witnessed an Iowa-Iowa State wrestling dual. Aaron Costello grew up watching every one on Iowa Public Television.
The two Hawkeyes, from different states and different weights, are fresh faces to Iowa’s varsity lineup in the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series with the Dan Gable Traveling Trophy at stake.
DeSanto is an undefeated sophomore 133-pounder from Exeter, Pennsylvania; Costello is a once-beaten freshman 285-pounder from Dubuque, Iowa. DeSanto, ranked 10th, has never faced Iowa State freshman Austin Gomez, who is ranked No. 14.
“I know the rivalry runs deep and I can’t wait to experience the environment,” DeSanto said. “Every time I go out in the arena I am always a little jittery because it is cool wrestling in front of that many fans. I still have to wrestle tough and score points.”
Costello and Iowa State heavyweight Gannon Gremmel have history. The most recent meeting came last season at the Northern Iowa Open with Gremmel winning, 2-1, in overtime.
“It’s a good match every time,” Costello said. “I’m ready to put pressure on him and flip the scrip from the past.”
The third-ranked Hawkeyes (4-0 overall, 1-0 Big Ten) have competed short-handed in all four duals this season. On Tuesday, it was announced that two-time All-American Michael Kemerer, who expected to move from 157 to 174, will have surgery and miss the season.
“As far as Michael Kemerer goes, our attention is on him and what his needs are and on what our team’s needs are, and on every individual and what their needs are,” Iowa head coach Tom Brands said. “That is our focus every day and that doesn’t change because there is a crisis. Michael Kemerer is about going forward and that’s what we’re about.”
Filling in for Kemerer is freshman Myles Wilson (2-2).
“We have some options there, we have a lot of 57 pounders, as you saw,” Brands said. “We have some upper weight guys who have certified down there. The heavier guys will take time because of the math, formulas, and NCAA rules. But, the bottom line is, we’re going to put the best guy on the mat at the weight class. Right now Myles Wilson is the only guy listed there.”
Iowa leads the all-time series, 64-16-2, with 14 consecutive victories. Iowa State’s last win was 19-16 on Dec. 5, 2004, in Iowa City.
“They have a hungry, well-coached team,” Brands said. “They have a lot of things going in their favor and we have to be ready.”
The Cyclones are coached by Kevin Dresser and assisted by Derek St. John and Brent Metcalf. The three won four individual national titles competing for Iowa.
“From my point of view, there is a lot of familiarity there, a lot of good relationships, a lot of good memories, and I know what they are trying to do in Ames, Iowa,” Brands said. “I also know what we’re doing in our wrestling room and that’s our focus. It has always been our focus and always will be our focus.”
Saturday’s dual begins at 2 p.m. (CT) and is streamed on BTN Plus and FloWrestling.com.
“Our guys want to be on the mat,” Brands said. “It’s like a dog that likes to hunt, a horse that likes to race, and our wrestlers want to wrestle.”