IOWA CITY – The top-ranked University of Iowa wrestling team defeated No. 14 Minnesota, 22-10, on Friday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Iowa won seven-of-10 matches to win their 24th straight Big Ten Conference opener and extend the nation’s longest winning streak to 25.
The Hawkeyes opened the dual with four straight wins, starting at 165 pounds. Alex Marinelli trailed in the first and at the end of the second, but he opened the third with an escape and closed with a takedown in the final minute to earn a 6-5 win.
Michael Kemerer added a 9-2 decision at 174 in his 2021-22 season debut. Kemerer built a 4-1 lead after one and an 8-1 lead after two before closing the dual with two minutes, 12 seconds of riding time.
Abe Assad and Jacob Warner followed with consecutive wins at 184 and 197. Assad scored two takedowns in the first, one in the second and two more in the third. His fifth takedown with 23 seconds on the clock gave him an 11-4 lead, and his mat return as time expired secured a riding-time point and 12-4 major decision.
Warner used two first-period takedowns to build a 4-1 lead. He escaped to start the second and traded a takedown for an escape in the third to earn a 6-4 decision.
Minnesota closed the first half with a 17-7 major decision at 285. Olympic champion Gable Steveson used seven takedowns to top U23 World Champion Tony Cassioppi.
The Gophers got on the board again after intermission with an 8-6 decision at 125 pounds. Hawkeye freshman Drake Ayala shed his redshirt and made his collegiate debut in front of a sold out crowd. Ayala opened the scoring with a takedown 11 seconds in the match, but seventh-ranked Mitch McKee responded with six straight points and held on for the 8-6 decision.
Iowa responded with consecutive wins at 133, 141 and 149.
DeSanto used three takedowns in the opening period to extend his winning streak to 13 and earn a 7-5 decision at 133. Jaydin Eierman clinched the dual with a controlling 5-2 decision at 141, and Max Murin’s takedown with six seconds on the clock was the difference in a 3-1 win at 149.
The final match of the dual favored Minnesota in a battle of ranked opponents at 157. Iowa’s 12th-ranked Kaleb Young scored a takedown in the first and held a 3-1 lead after two periods, but Minnesota’s fourth-ranked Brayton Lee scored three points in the final period via escape and takedown to win a 4-3 decision.
QUOTING HEAD COACH TOM BRANDS
“That’s a team that squeezes a lot for whatever reason and we need to deal with it. I don’t think we dealt with it very well. It has to be a fast match. There is no guarantee that things are going to continue to go your way. You have to make them go your way and when that momentum shifts a little bit you have to make them go your way.
“We are going to have workout tomorrow and we are going to look at what we need to look at for each individual according to their needs. We have work to do. We know we have work to do, and the good thing is, Ironside said it best on the radio, he loves weekends like this because you don’t have to wait. There’s a quick turnaround. Either you keep doing what you’re doing if it was good, and if it wasn’t good then let’s turn it around.
“You have to be ready when it’s your turn to step on the mat. And we have to be ready against Purdue.”
QUOTING SENIOR MICHAEL KEMERER
“I just love to compete. I love to do this. I feel like I was made to be a wrestler and coming back, you don’t see a lot of seventh years, but there’s a reason God wants me back on this team for my seventh year. I’m a believer in that stuff, so it’s just not trying to figure things out. Just go out and enjoy it.
“It felt good to be out there. I feel like it’s good to get that first match and I’m excited to keep getting better with this team. You’d like to get bonus points, so that’s on my mind, and as a team we just want to keep getting better.”
The top-ranked Hawkeyes host No. 15 Purdue on Sunday at 2 p.m. at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The dual is televised live on BTN.
Iowa has won 25 straight duals.
Iowa has won 24 straight Big Ten openers and 24 straight conference duals overall, its longest streak since winning 24 straight from 2014-17.
Iowa has won 21 straight at Carver-Hawkeye Arena
Iowa has won the last eight meeting against Minnesota
Michael Kemerer made his 2021-22 season debut
Freshman Drake Ayala made his official collegiate debut. He became the fifth Hawkeye in the Tom Brands era to wrestling as a true freshman, and just the third to wrestle in his first year removed from high school (Spencer Lee 2018; Abe Assad 2020; Drake Ayala 2022). Nathan Burak (2013) and Justin Stickley (2017) wrestled as true freshmen but both deferred college enrollment by one year after graduating high school.
DeSanto has a career-long 13 match win streak.
#1 IOWA 22, #14 MINNESOTA 10
165 #1 Alex Marinelli (IA) dec. Cael Carlson (M), 6-5; 3-0
174 #2 Michael Kemerer (IA) dec. #23 Bailey O’Reilly (M), 9-2; 6-0
184 #18 Abe Assad (IA) major dec. Sam Skillings (M), 12-4; 10-0
197 #5 Jacob Warner (IA) dec. #30 Michial Foy (M), 6-4; 13-0
285 #1 Gable Steveson (M) major dec. #6 Tony Cassioppi (IA), 17-7; 13-4
125 #7 Patrick McKee (M) dec. #14 Drake Ayala (IA), 8-6; 13-7
133 #3 Austin DeSanto (IA) dec. #24 Jake Gliva (M), 7-5; 16-7
141 #2 Jaydin Eierman (IA) dec. #19 Jake Bergeland (M), 6-2; 19-7
149 #12 Max Murin (IA) dec. #25 Michael Blockhus (M), 3-1; 22-7
157 #4 Brayton Lee (M) dec. #12 Kaleb Young (IA), 4-3; 22-10
Records: Iowa (7-0, 1-0), Minnesota (1-2, 0-1)