ON THE MAT
The University of Iowa wrestling team competes at the 2020 Big Ten Championships on Saturday and Sunday at the Rutgers Athletic Center in Piscataway, New Jersey. The two-day event begins Saturday at 9 a.m. (CT). Session II starts Saturday at 5:30 p.m. Session III begins Sunday at 11 a.m., followed by the finals at 2:30 p.m. The finals will be televised by BTN.
BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIPS RESULTS
Brackets and team standings will be available throughout the tournament at bigten.org and hawkeyesports.com.
10 HAWKEYES EARN TO 3 PRE-SEEDS
Junior Spencer Lee and senior Michael Kemerer earned the top pre-seed at their respective weight classes when the Big Ten Conference announced its tournament pre-seeds Monday afternoon. The 2020 Big Ten Championships begin Saturday at the Rutgers Athletic Center is Piscataway, New Jersey.
Lee and Kemerer are both undefeated this season. Lee is 15-0 at 125 pounds. Kemerer is 13-0 at 174 pounds. Both wresters are ranked No. 1 in the NCAA Division I Coaches Poll.
All 10 Hawkeyes earned a pre-seed of third or better. Senior Pat Lugo (149), and juniors Kaleb Young (157) and Alex Marinelli (165) are seed No. 2 at their respective weights. Marinelli won the 165-pound bracket as a No. 2 seed last year.
Junior Austin DeSanto (133), sophomores Max Murin (141) and Jacob Warner (197), redshirt freshman Tony Cassioppi (285), and true freshman Abe Assad (184) are all seeded third.
The complete tournament brackets will be released Friday afternoon following the Big Ten Conference coaches meeting.
WRESTLER OF THE CHAMPIONSHIP
Since 1989, the year the Big Ten record book first recognizes the award, nine different Hawkeyes have been named Wrestler of the Big Ten Championships. Alex Marinelli won the award in 2019 after winning the 165-pound bracket. He shared the award with Penn State’s Jason Nolf. Head coach Tom Brands won the award in 1989 following his 126-pound conference title. Associate head coach Terry Brands won the honor following his 126-pound Big Ten title in 1992. Brent Metcalf is the only Big Ten athlete to win the award twice (2008, 2009).
BIG TEN TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONS
The Hawkeyes’ 113 Big Ten champions have won a total of 200 conference titles. There have been seven four-time, 18 three-time, and 30 two-time winners. The Hawkeyes have won 35 team titles, twice as many as the next closest school (Illinois, 17). Iowa won 25 consecutive conference championships from 1974-1998.
Iowa’s most recent Big Ten Champion by weight:
125: Thomas Gilman, 2017
133: Cory Clark, 2016
141: Cliff Moore, 2004
149: Brent Metcalf, 2009
157: Derek St. John, 2012
165: Alex Marinelli, 2019
174: Jay Borschel, 2010
184: Sammy Brooks, 2017
197: none since weight was introduced in 1999.
HWT: Blake Rasing, 2011
The Hawkeyes have seven All-Americans in their postseason lineup that have a combined record of 107-10 this season. Spencer Lee, Alex Marinelli, and Michael Kemerer are all two-time All-Americans. Austin DeSanto, Pat Lugo, Kaleb Young, and Jacob Warner are 2019 All-Americans. The group has scored bonus points in 57 of its 107 wins.
The Big Ten Championships is one of seven qualifying tournaments across the country. The NCAA has awarded the conference 79 of the 283 automatic qualifying bids for the national championship in Minneapolis on March 19-21.
The Big Ten was allotted more bids than any other conference. The league will have six automatic qualifiers at 157 and 197, seven at 133 and 285, eight at 125, 141, and 165, nine at 174, and 10 at 149 and 184.
After all of the qualifying events have concluded, the NCAA Division I Wrestling Committee will meet in-person to select the remaining 47 at-large qualifiers. All weight classes will consist of 33 wrestlers.
To be considered eligible for at-large selection, a wrestler must meet two or more of the standards, including .700 overall winning percentage, .700 Division I winning percentage at the weight class, Top 33 RPI (taken after the qualifying tournaments), Top 33 Coaches Ranking (Taken after the qualifying tournament), one win against a wrestler who qualified for the national tournament, qualifying event placement one below AQ.
IN THE COACHES’ EYE, RPI
University of Iowa wrestlers Spencer Lee and Michael Kemerer were ranked atop the NCAA Coaches’ Rankings, and Pat Lugo earned the top RPI in the Division I Individual Rankings released Feb. 27 by the NCAA.
Lee is the top-ranked 125-pounder and 15-0 this season. Kemerer is 13-0 and the top-ranked 174-pounder. They lead a group of eight Hawkeyes ranked in the top three. Each of Iowa’s 10 postseason wrestlers are ranked in the top 10 of the Coaches’ Rankings.
Lugo (149) and Alex Marinelli (165) are ranked No. 2 at their respective weights. Austin DeSanto (133), Max Murin (141), Jacob Warner (197), and Tony Cassioppi (285) are all ranked third. Kaleb Young in No. 6 at 157 and Abe Assad is No. 10 at 184.
Lugo is the top-ranked wrestler at 149 in the rating percentage index (RPI). Six more Hawkeyes are ranked fifth or better. To be eligible for an RPI ranking, a wrestler must have a minimum of 15 Division I matches at a given weight. One of Lee’s wins was via forfeit, so he is one match shy of qualifying for RPI.
KEMERER TAKES OVER NO. 1
Senior Michael Kemerer finished the regular season ranked No. 1 at 174 pounds. He climbed to the top spot following his 11-6 win over then-No. 1 Mark Hall of Penn State on Jan. 31.
It is the first time in his career Kemerer has been ranked No. 1. He had been ranked as high as No. 2 this season, his first season at 174 pounds. He competed at 157 pounds as a redshirt freshman and sophomore from 2016-18 and reached as high as No. 2 in the rankings both seasons.
Kemerer is 13-0 with eight wins over ranked opponents. He was won 33 straight duals and has a career Big Ten dual record of 25-1.
Junior Spencer Lee is 15-0 and has outscored his opponents 183-13. Lee has scored bonus points in 14 of 15 wins. He averages 4.93 team points per match, a number that would be No. 1 in the country if he met the 16-match minimum.
Lee is among the nation’s leaders with eight technical falls. He was 5-0 in the month of January with five technical falls. He outscored those five opponents 84-1.
Lee won by major decision (16-5) in the season opener, by 8-1 decision on Feb. 8, and by 12-3 major decision Feb. 23. Those are the only three matches this season to go seven minutes. He has four first-period technical falls, and three first-period falls (0:54, 0:52, 2:21).
HEAVY LIFTING LIGHTWEIGHTS
Iowa’s starting 125-pounders have combined for four NCAA titles, nine All-America honors, and six NCAA finals appearances since 2010.
The total includes two NCAA titles by Spencer Lee (2018, 2019) and two by Matt McDonough (2010, 2012). McDonough earned All-America honors from 2010-12, and was an NCAA finalist in 2011.
Thomas Gilman earned All-America honors from 2015-17, reaching the NCAA finals in 2016. Cory Clark placed fifth at the 2014 NCAA Championships.
Since 2007, Tom Brands first as Iowa’s head coach, the Hawkeyes’ starting 125-pounder (NCAA qualifier) has a 372-49 overall record (.884), and a 208-12 (.945) mark in duals.
Spencer Lee and Austin DeSanto are a combined 29-2 with 25 bonus point victories. Lee, Iowa’s junior 125-pounder, is 15-0 with 14 bonus-point wins (2 major decisions, 8 technical falls, 3 pins, 1 MFF). DeSanto, Iowa’s junior 133-pounder, is 14-2 with 11 bonus-point wins (3 major decisions, 6 technical falls, 2 pins).
Junior Spencer Lee (15-0) and senior Michael Kemerer (13-0) enter the Big Ten Championships with undefeated records.
In the history of Iowa wrestling, 15 wrestlers have finished the season with a perfect record (minimum 20 matches). Four of those wrestlers were able to perform the feat twice. They include Mark Ironside, Lincoln McIlravy, T.J. Williams and Jim Zalesky. Iowa coaches Tom Brands and Terry Brands are among the 15 wrestlers. Tom went 45-0 in 1990-91 and Terry went 35-0 in 1991-92.
The Hawkeyes enter the Big Ten Championships with two wrestlers making their tournament debut. Freshman Abe Assad (184) and redshirt freshman Tony Cassioppi (285) are competing at the conference tournament for the first time.
Five Hawkeyes — Austin DeSanto, Max Murin, Pat Lugo, Kaleb Young, and Jacob Warner — are making their second Big Ten tournament appearances. All five wrestlers competed last season, and all five placed high enough to earn automatic bids to the NCAA Championships.
Spencer Lee, Alex Marinelli, and Michael Kemerer are competing at the Big Ten Championships for the third time. Lee was runner-up at 125 in 2019 and placed third in 2018. He is 5-2 in two tournament appearances. He scored bonus points in all five tournament wins — two pins, two major decisions, and one technical fall.
Marinelli was 3-0 in 2019 and won the 165-pound championship. He placed sixth as a redshirt freshman in 2018, going 2-3 in five matches.
Kemerer competed at 157 pounds in 2017 and 2018. He missed 2019 with an injury. He was runner-up as a redshirt freshman in 2017, going 2-1 overall. He placed sixth in 2018, going 2-1 before injury defaulting from the tournament. He is making his first appearance at the tournament at 174 pounds.
REGULAR SEASON B1G CHAMPIONS
Iowa clinched the outright Big Ten regular season title with a 35-6 win against No. 13 Minnesota on Feb. 15. The Hawkeyes finished the Big Ten regular season 9-0 to win the regular season title outright for the first time since 2015.
The Hawkeyes have won or shared the Big Ten dual championships 12 times since the conference started recognizing a dual meet champion in 1999. Iowa won the title outright in 2000, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2015, and 2020, and shared the title in 2003, 2014, 2016, and 2019.
The Hawkeyes have nine undefeated conference seasons since 2006-07, head coach Tom Brands’ first year.
HAWKEYES FINISH PERFECT REGULAR SEASON
Iowa finished the regular season 13-0, its first undefeated regular season since 2009-10 (23-0). The schedule included 10 wins against ranked teams, five in the top 10. The Hawkeyes had an individual record of 108-22 in 13 duals.
Iowa was 7-0 at home in 2019-20, recording its 22nd undefeated season in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Hawkeyes were 56-14 in individual matches at home in 2019-20.
A PERFECT (BIG) TEN
Juniors Spencer Lee and Kaleb Young, and senior Michael Kemerer finished the Big Ten dual season with perfect 9-0 conference records.
Since 2007, Tom Brands’ first season as Iowa head coach, a wrestler has navigated a perfect Big Ten regular season 21 times. Since 2014-15, when the conference went to a nine-dual regular season schedule, eight Hawkeyes have posted perfect 9-0 records, including Lee, Kaleb Young, and Kemerer in 2019-20. Alex Marinelli did it in 2018-19. Thomas Gilman did it three times (2015, 2016, 2017), and Alex Meyer, Brandon Sorensen, and Sam Stoll were all 9-0 in 2015-16.