Iowa Sends 3 to NCAA Semifinals; 6 Hawkeyes Alive

TULSA, Okla. – Three University of Iowa wrestlers – Spencer Lee (125), Real Woods (141) and Tony Cassioppi (285) – all advanced to Friday night’s semifinals during Session III of the 2023 NCAA Championships at the BOK Center.

The wins clinched All-America honors for the Hawkeye trio. They are the 358th, 359th and 360th All-America honors in Iowa history. Lee is the second five-time All-American, joining former Hawkeye Michael Kemerer, Cassioppi is the 25th four-timer and Woods garnered his third All-America nod – his first at Iowa.

Along with the three semifinalists, the Hawkeyes have three wrestlers alive on the consolation side of the bracket. Iowa is second in the team standings with 48 points, while Penn State is leading the team race with 78 points. Cornell (45.5) and Nebraska (44) are third and fourth.

“We have six matches right away, three in the championship and three in consolation. Then those guys in the consolation, if they win, will have two matches tonight,” said Brands. “That’s where we are at, we have to keep moving, keep moving up on that stand.”

Lee opened quarterfinal action with a 14-4 major decision over Lock Haven’s Anthony Noto at 125. Lee jumped out to a 10-0 first period lead with a takedown and eight near fall points.

Noto put points on the board in the second with a four-point near fall before a late Lee escape made it 11-4 heading to the third. Lee added a third-period takedown and riding time to secure his 18th bonus point victory this season (in 20 matches).

“I should have kept scoring, it’s that simple,” said Lee. “I have to be smart (in between matches), it’s a long tournament.”

The win runs Lee’s winning streak to 58 consecutive matches and it is his 98th career win as a Hawkeye. It is his 14th career bonus point victory at the NCAA Championships and runs his NCAA record to 18-0. Lee is 3-0 with three bonus point victories – pin, tech fall and major – this week and is outscoring his opponents, 32-4.

Lee will face Purdue’s fourth-seeded Matt Ramos in tonight’s semifinals in a rematch of the Jan. 8 meeting in West Layette. (Lee won by fall in 2:54 after trailing 8-1 in the first period).

Woods earned a spot in the semifinals for a second straight year with a 9-0 major decision over Missouri’s Allan Hart at 141. Woods had a takedown and two-point near fall to take a 4-0 lead into the second and added two more takedowns in the second and third to cruise to the victory.

“I felt great, a lot better than yesterday,” said Woods. “I made some adjustments. Being this far into my career, still having hiccups and mistakes made – not on mat, but in preparation – it’s crazy to think about, but that still happens. A lot of people realize, there still is a lot to learn in this sport. I felt like myself today.”

The win gives Woods his third career All-America honor and moves his record to 19-0 this season with 11 bonus point victories. Woods will face Nebraska’s fourth-seeded Brock Hardy in a rematch of the Big Ten finals in tonight’s semifinals.

Cassioppi punched his ticket to the semifinals with a 3-1 sudden victory win over fifth-seeded Cohlton Schultz of Arizona State. The two heavyweights traded escapes in the second and third periods before Cassioppi finished a takedown to win in sudden victory.

“I needed to keep getting to my attacks and my stuff,” said Cassioppi, who is in the semifinals for the second time in his career. “Don’t let him sneak one out, don’t let him push me; get to my stuff.

“A quick finish is huge. That finish was long, and it got a little dicey. A quick finish is big, especially on big, athletic bodies, on guys that can move.”

Cassioppi will face top-seeded Mason Parris of Michigan on Friday night. Parris won a 9-7 decision in the Feb. 10 dual in Iowa City where Cassioppi led 7-6 in the third period.

No. 8 seed Max Murin and No. 11 seed Nelson Brands both fell to the Round of 12 with quarterfinal losses.

Murin gave top-seeded and three-time national champion Yianni Diakomihalis of Cornell all he could handle in an 8-7 loss at 149. Murin had a third-period takedown to trim his deficit to 8-7 and nearly got swipes for near fall points in the final 20 seconds.

Brands dropped a 2-0 decision to third-seeded Mekhi Lewis of Virginia Tech. Lewis escaped in the second and rode Brands out the entire third period to advance to the semifinals.

No. 14 seed Jacob Warner stayed alive with a 2-0 session. In his first match, Warner pinned Utah Valley’s Evan Bockman in 1:59 before following with an 8-3 victory over NC State’s six seed Isaac Trumble. He had three takedowns in the match, while adding an escape and technical violation point.

“Jacob showed us good stuff,” said Brands.

Juniors Brody Teske (133), Cobe Siebrecht (157), Patrick Kennedy (165) and Abe Assad (184) had their tournament runs come to an end during Session III.

Teske fell 4-1 to Pittsburgh’s No. 9 seed Micky Phillippi at 133, Siebrecht got caught in a scramble in the third period where Northwestern’s Trevor Chumbley locked up a cradle to finish the fall in 6:43, and Assad gave up a third-period takedown in a 3-2 loss to North Carolina’s Gavin Kane.

Kennedy went 1-1 on Friday, posting a 6-3 win over Minnesota’s Andrew Sparks in his first match before falling 5-2 to fourth-seeded Julian Ramirez of Cornell. Trailing 3-2, Kennedy was in on a winning shot in a flurry in the final 20 seconds, but Ramirez won the scramble to clinch the 5-2 win.

Teske finished the year 10-6, Siebrecht went 14-8, Kennedy was 21-5 and Assad went 19-6.

125 – #1 Spencer Lee (UI) major dec. #8 Anthony Noto (LH), 14-4
141 – #1 Real Woods (UI) major dec. #8 Allan Hart (MIZ), 9-0
149 – #1 Yianni Diakomihalis (COR) dec. #9 Max Murin (UI), 8-7
174 – #3 Mekhi Lewis (VT) dec. #11 Nelson Brands (UI), 2-0
285 – #4 Tony Cassioppi (UI) dec. #5 Cohlton Schultz (ASU), 3-1 (SV1)

133 – #9 Micky Phillippi (PITT) dec. #23 Brody Teske (UI), 4-1
157 -. #13 Trevor Chumbley (NW) pinned #14 Cobe Siebrecht (UI), 6:43
165 – #6 Patrick Kennedy (UI) dec. #28 Andrew Sparks (MINN), 6-3
165 – #4 Julian Ramirez (COR) dec. #6 Patrick Kennedy (UI), 5-2
184 – #11 Gavin Kane (UNC) dec. #12 Abe Assad (UI), 4-3
197 – #14 Jacob Warner (UI) pinned #20 Evan Bockman (UVU), 1:59
197 – #14 Jacob Warner (UI) dec. #6 Isaac Trumble (NCST), 9-3

125 – #1 Spencer Lee (UI) vs. #4 Matt Ramos (PUR)
141 – #1 Real Woods (UI) vs. #4 Brock Hardy (NEB)
285 – #4 Tony Cassioppi (UI) vs. #1 Mason Parris (MICH)

149 – #9 Max Murin (UI) vs. #22 Chance Lamer (MICH)
174 – #11 Nelson Brands (UI) vs. #9 Edmond Ruth (ILL)
197 – #14 Jacob Warner (UI) vs. #8 Silas Allred (NEB)

Session IV will begin at 7 p.m (CT). Semifinal matches will be televised on ESPN while consolation bouts will be on ESPN+.