ON THE MAT
The Hawkeyes finished the 2019-20 season as the Big Ten regular season and tournament champions. The Hawkeyes were 13-0 overall and 9-0 in the Big Ten. Iowa’s tournament title was No. 36 in program history, more than double that of any other conference school.
The Hawkeyes led the nation in attendance for the 14th straight year, setting a NCAA dual record average of 12,568.
On Thursday, March 12, 2020, the Big Ten Conference announced the cancelation of all conference and non-conference competitions through the end of the academic year, including spring sports that compete beyond the academic year, and participation in all NCAA tournaments and competitions, including the 2020 NCAA Wrestling Championships.
The NCAA followed suit, canceling all NCAA Winter and Spring Championships.
The decisions were based on the evolving COVID-19 public health threat and to ensure the events do not contribute to spread of the pandemic.
SPENCER LEE WINS HODGE TROPHY
University of Iowa junior Spencer Lee was named winner of the 2020 WIN Magazine/Culture House Dan Hodge Trophy, presented annually to the nation’s most dominant college wrestler. He earned 52 of a possible 57 first-place votes.
Lee dominated the 125-pound weight class in 2020, outscoring his opponents, 234-18. He scored bonus points in 17 of 18 wins, recorded four first-period falls and nine technical falls, and averaged 5.0 team points per match.
Lee is the third Hawkeye in program history to win the award since its inception in 1995. Mark Ironside was honored in 1998, and Brent Metcalf earned the award in 2008. Ironside and Metcalf were both NCAA champions. Lee was the top-seed at 125 pounds and going for his third straight national title before the 2020 NCAA Championships were called off March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
SPENCER LEE NAMED BIG TEN WRESTLER OF THE YEAR
Junior Spencer Lee was named Big Ten Conference Wrestler of the Year. He finished the regular season 18-0 overall, 9-0 in Big Ten duals. He outscored his 18 opponents 234-18.
Lee was 9-0 in Big Ten duals, scoring 45 team points out of a possible 54. He recorded technical falls in his first six Big Ten duals, and added one pin, one decision, and one win by forfeit.
Lee was 3-0 at the Big Ten Championships with one pin, one technical fall, and one major decision.
In the finals, Lee led 4-1 after one period, 6-1 after two periods, and with more than four minutes of riding time, added 10 points in the third period to defeat No. 2 Devin Schroder of Purdue, 16-2, at 125 pounds. The Big Ten Conference title is the first of his career. He became the 114th wrestler in school history to win a Big Ten Conference title.
Lee honors (as of March 31, 2020)
Dan Hodge Trophy winner
Big Ten Wrestler of the Year
Intermat Wrestler of the Year
AAU James E. Sullivan Award semifinalist
TOM BRANDS NAMED INTERMAT COACH OF THE YEAR
Tom Brands was named 2020 InterMat Coach of the Year. The award, presented each year since 2006 to the best college wrestling coach in all divisions for his/her college wrestling coaching performance during the 2019-2020 season, is based exclusively on the balloting of writers at InterMat. Brands won the award with eight of 10 first-place votes, and 84 total points.
Brands led the Hawkeyes to the top of every national ranking in 2019-20, posting a 13-0 dual record and 9-0 Big Ten Conference record. The Hawkeyes won the 2020 Big Ten Championships, crowing three individual champions and scoring 157.5 points, its highest total since 1995. Brands was named Big Ten Coach of the Year, and junior Spencer Lee was named Big Ten Wrestler of the Year.
The Hawkeyes entered the 2020 NCAA Championships with three top seeds, nine wrestlers seeded eighth or better, and another seeded 11th. Iowa was the favorite to win the NCAA team title. It would have been its 24th team title in program history.
Brands honors (as of March 31, 2020)
Big Ten Coach of the Year
Intermat Coach of the Year
BRANDS NAMED BIG TEN COACH OF THE YEAR
Tom Brands was named Big Ten Conference Coach of the Year for the fourth time in his career, more than any other coach in school history. He was previously recognized in 2008, 2009, and 2010 following conference titles. Iowa has five Big Ten championships under Brands (2008, 2009, 2010, 2015, 2020).
The Hawkeyes scored 157.5 points, its highest since 1995 (185). Iowa crowned three individual champions en route to its fifth conference title under Brands. It was the first time since 2003 Iowa crowned three individual champions at the Big Ten Championships (Cliff Moore, Jessman Smith, Steve Mocco).
HAWKEYES WIN BIG TEN TOURNAMENT TITLE
The top-ranked University of Iowa wrestling team won the 2020 Big Ten Championship on March 8 in Piscataway, New Jersey, scoring 157.5 team points and crowning three individual champions.
Junior Alex Marinelli defended his 165-pound conference title, and junior Spencer Lee and senior Pat Lugo became first-time champions, leading Iowa to its first outright team title since 2010 and its 36th conference title overall.
Iowa’s team title is the 36th in program history, more than any other school in the Big Ten. Iowa’s point total (157.5) is its highest since 1995 (185).
PAT LUGO WINS 149-POUND CROWN
Senior Pat Lugo became the 115th wrestler in school history to win a Big Ten Conference title when he won the 149-pound title March 8.
Lugo’s takedown with 1:09 left in the first period was the difference in his 2-1 win over top-seeded Sammy Sasso of Ohio State. Lugo was seeded No. 2. He was 3-0 in the tournament, defeating the No. 16, No. 6, and No.1 ranked wrestlers in the country, outscoring them 17-5.
ALEX MARINELLI DEFENDS 165-POUND TITLE
Junior Alex Marinelli became the 56th Hawkeye in school history to win multiple Big Ten titles when we won the 165-pound championship on March 8. He is the first Hawkeye to win back-to-back conference titles since Sammy Brooks in 2016-17.
Marinelli, the No. 2 seed at 165, scored a takedown with 10 seconds left in the third to break a 1-1 tie and earn a 3-2 win over top-seeded Vincenzo Joseph of Penn State.
He was 3-0 in the tournament, earning a 14-2 major decision against No. 14 Danny Braunagel of Illinois, and pinning No. 19 Shane Oster of Northwestern in 2:41.
THE ATTENDANCE GAME
Iowa averaged 12,568 fans in seven home duals, setting an NCAA record for average dual attendance in a single season. Iowa has led the NCAA in attendance in 14 consecutive seasons.
A record 87,979 fans entered the gates at Carver-Hawkeye Arena to experience a wrestling dual. The previous high was 71,966, set in 2017-18.
Iowa drew 10,000 or more fans to each of its seven duals, a NCAA record. The previous record for 10,000-plus duals was three, set by Iowa three times, most recently in 2016-17.
The Hawkeyes were sending a 10-man lineup to the NCAA Championships for the fourth time since 2007, Tom Brands’ first year as head coach (2010, 2014, 2015, 2020).
Spencer Lee (125), Pat Lugo (149), and Alex Marinelli (165) were seeded No. 1 at their respective weight classes. Iowa had nine wrestlers seed eighth or better, including junior Austin DeSanto (6 at 133), sophomore Max Murin (7 at 141), junior Kaleb Young (8 at 157), senior Michael Kemerer (2 at 174), sophomore Jacob Warner (5 at 197), and redshirt freshman Tony Cassioppi (3 at 285). True freshman Abe Assad was seeded No. 11 at 184.
Nine of Iowa’s 10 qualifiers earned automatic bids to the NCAA tournament at the 2020 Big Ten Championships. Young received an at-large bid from the NCAA selection committee.
Iowa has sent at least eight athletes to the NCAA Championships in each of head coach Tom Brands’ 14 seasons.
Iowa qualified two freshmen for the NCAA championships. True freshman Abe Assad was the No. 11 seed at 184, and redshirt freshman Tony Cassioppi was seeded third at 285.
Since 2007, Brands first NCAA championships as Iowa’s head coach, 21 freshmen have qualified for the NCAA tournament and nine went on to win All-America honors (Matt McDonough 2010; Derek St. John, 2011; Bobby Telford, 2012; Cory Clark, 2014; Brandon Sorensen, 2015; Michael Kemerer, 2017; Spencer Lee, 2018; Alex Marinelli, 2018; Jacob Warner, 2019). McDonough won the national title in 2010 at 125 pounds. Lee won the national title in 2018 at 125 pounds.
The Hawkeyes entered the 2020 NCAA Championships with seven All-Americans that combined for a record of 126-16, including 68 bonus-point wins. Spencer Lee, Alex Marinelli, and Michael Kemerer are all two-time All-Americans. Austin DeSanto, Pat Lugo, Kaleb Young, and Jacob Warner were 2019 All-Americans.
Entering the 2020 NCAA Championships, the Hawkeyes had crowned at least one All-American in 48 consecutive seasons, a stretch dating back to 1972. Iowa has totaled 289 All-America honors during that stretch.
KEMERER’S RETURN TO THE BIG DANCE
Senior Michael Kemerer was expected to return to the national tournament after missing the 2018-19 season with an injury. Kemerer was 15-1 and seeded No. 2 at 174 pounds. He was an All-American at 157 pounds in 2017 and 2018.
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. Hall evened the all-time matchup with an 8-5 win in the Big Ten finals.
The No. 1 ranking was the first of Kemerer’s career. 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 finished the year 15-1 with 10 wins over ranked opponents, including seven in the top 10. He has a career record of 75-7. He was won 33 straight in duals and has a career Big Ten dual record of 25-1.
Junior Spencer Lee finished the season 18-0, outscoring his opponents 234-18. Lee scored bonus points in 17 of 18 wins. He averaged 5.0 team points per match.
Lee was 5-0 in the month of January with five technical falls. He outscored those five opponents 84-1.
Lee won by 16-5 major decision (16-5) in the season opener, by 8-1 decision on Feb. 8, by 12-3 major decision Feb. 23, and by 16-2 major decision in the Big Ten finals on March 8. Those were the only four matches this season to go seven minutes. He had four first-period technical falls, and four first-period falls (0:54, 0:52, 2:21, 2:53).
Junior Spencer Lee (18-0) was set to enter the 2020 NCAA Championships with an undefeated record.
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.
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.
Junior Spencer Lee had nine technical falls this season, breaking his previous single-season career-high (8) set as a freshman in 2017-18. Since 1999-00, the first year technical falls were recorded in Iowa Wrestling media guides, the season-high for technical falls is nine, first set by Doug Schwab in 1999-00. Schwab had 24 technical falls over a three-year period from 1998-00.
Lee had seven technical falls as a sophomore in 2018-19. He has won 24 career matches by technical fall, 38 percent of his 63 career wins. He has scored bonus points in 52 of his career wins (83 percent).
Redshirt freshman Tony Cassioppi opened the season with 15 straight wins. It is the most consecutive wins to open a season by a Hawkeye heavyweight since Bobby Telford won 18 straight in 2014-15.
Cassioppi finished his freshman season with a 20-3 record, including nine wins over ranked opponents, three in the top 10. Cassioppi entered the national tournament seeded third behind No. 2 Mason Paris (Michigan) and No. 1 Gable Steveson (Minnesota). His only two losses of the season were to Stevenson and Paris.
HAWKEYES BREAK MIDLANDS RECORD
Iowa scored a tournament record 196.5 points to win the 2019 Ken Kraft Midlands Championships on Dec. 30. The team title was Iowa’s 29th in the 57-year history of the event, and its seventh championship in a row.
The Hawkeyes crowned five individual champions, matching a school-record set in 2014, and placed 12 wrestlers on the podium.
Alex Marinelli led Iowa’s charge, running through the 165-pound bracket to win his third straight Midland Championships. He was named the Midlands Champion of Champions for the second time in his career (2017), and won awards for most falls (4) and highest tournament point total (29).
Marinelli was joined at the top of the award stand by Max Murin (141), Pat Lugo (149), Kaleb Young (157), and Tony Cassioppi (285).
HAWKEYES RETAIN DAN GABLE TROPHY
The second-ranked University of Iowa wrestling team defeated No. 11 Iowa State, 29-6, on Nov. 24 at Hilton Coliseum in the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series. Iowa won eight-of-10 bouts, owning a 28-4 edge in takedowns and a 90-38 advantage in match points. The win was Iowa’s 16th straight in the series, and awarded Iowa possession of the Dan Gable Traveling Trophy for ninth consecutive year. Iowa has owned the Dan Gable Traveling Trophy every year since its inception in 2010.
BRANDS GET B1G #100
Iowa’s 32-3 win against No. 6 Wisconsin on Dec. 1, 2019, was head coach Tom Brands’ 100th Big Ten victory. He has a 108-10 Big Ten record in 14 seasons. Brands has had nine undefeated Big Ten seasons, and Iowa has won or shared the Big Ten regular season title 12 times under Brands’ watch.
HAWKEYE WRESTLING HISTORY
The Hawkeyes have won 23 national titles and 36 Big Ten titles. Iowa’s 55 NCAA Champions have won a total of 84 NCAA individual titles, crowning six three-time and 17 two-time champions. The Hawkeyes’ 115 Big Ten champions have combined for 203 conference titles. There have been seven four-time, 18 three-time, and 31 two-time Big Ten champions from Iowa.
Iowa’s 157 All-Americans have earned All-America status 335 times, including 20 four-time, 36 three-time and 42 two-time honorees.
HAWKEYES AND CARVER-HAWKEYE ARENA
The Hawkeyes are 262-25 (.913) all-time at Carver-Hawkeye Arena since moving from the UI Field House in 1983. Iowa was 7-0 at home in 2019-20, completing its 22nd undefeated season in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Carver-Hawkeye Arena has hosted two United States Olympic Team Trials, four Big Ten Championships (1983, 1994, 2005, 2016), and four NCAA Championships (1986, 1991, 1995, 2001). The Hawkeyes have won five tournament titles on their home mat, including the 1983 and 1994 Big Ten Championships, and the 1986, 1991 and 1995 NCAA Championships.
In 2018, the University of Iowa hosted the UWW World Cup, an international dual tournament featuring eight of the top countries in the world.
Team and academic awards will be announced at a later date.