After a perfect opening round the pressure was on the Hawkeyes to keep their strong momentum going as they attempted to send nine wrestlers to the quarterfinals. Reflecting back now the team came within inches of doing just that, but while the Hawkeyes managed to catch a few breaks in tonight’s second round, a couple of those breaks also went to the other team’s wrestler.
All told seven wrestlers will head to tomorrow’s quarterfinals, and all nine of Iowa’s wrestlers remain in contention for the podium.
The first wrestler to take the mat for the Hawkeyes was the reigning 125-pound national champion Spencer Lee who was matched up against Sean Fausz of North Carolina State. Lee struck first in the opening period with a takedown, but Fausz managed to cut the lead with an escape. Lee was in deep on several more occasions, but managed to finish his second takedown in the closing seconds of period two. In the third period Lee padded his lead with four nearfall points on a cross-wrist tilt.
The final score was 10-2 for Lee, which means the sophomore has posted bonus win in back-to-back matches. His next bout will be in the quarterfinals where he will once again face #6 Sean Russell of Minnesota. Lee was undefeated against Russell on the season, and he also faced Russell a year ago at the NCAA tournament.
Next to the mat was fellow Pennsylvania native Austin DeSanto, who was taking on #10 seed Roman Bravo-Young of Penn State in the 133-pound bracket. DeSanto opened the first with a quick takedown, but Bravo-Young quickly escaped. From there it was a tight match up until the third period where with time winding down DeSanto was able to get into the merkle position and put Bravo-Young on his back. Bravo-Young was able to roll through before any nearfall accumulated, but DeSanto still emerged with the 5-2 victory.
The win advanced DeSanto to a highly anticipated quarterfinal match against Michigan’s #2 Stevan Micic. The two wrestlers are 1-1 in their careers against one another, with their meeting at last year’s NCAA tournament one of the more infamous matches in DeSanto’s career.
That led into the team’s third Pennsylvania native taking the mat, with the redshirt freshman Max Murin playing spoiler for the second time in as many matches downing #6 Michael Carr 4-3 at 141 pounds. A late first period takedown was the difference as he gave the Hawkeyes their third quarterfinalist.
Up next for Murin will be Penn State’s #3 seed Nick Lee, who was one of the wrestlers that defeated Murin earlier this month at the Big Ten tournament.
One of the more dramatic round two matches for the Hawkeyes took place at 149 pounds where Pat Lugo took on the #26 seed Ryan Blees of Virginia Tech. Neither wrestler was able to get any offense going from the neutral position as all scores in the match came from mat wrestling.
The pair traded escapes in regulation and followed that with a scoreless sudden victory period. In the tiebreaker periods Blees was able to get out for an escape to take a brief lead. When Lugo got his turn in the down position it looked as though he would fall victim to upset, but with time nearly expired Lugo reversed Blees for the 4-2 win.
Next, the Hawkeye will face off against the bracket’s #2 seed Micah Jordan of Ohio State. This will be the first meeting between these two wrestlers since the 2016-17 when Lugo was still a member of the Edinboro wrestling program. Jordan was the victor in the match, which took place at the Cliff Kenn Invitational.
The theme of the round for Iowa was Pennsylvania natives as 157-pound wrestler made it a perfect four-for-four among keystone state natives in the round of 16. Young dominated Ohio State’s Ke-Shawn Hayes to the tune of 14-2 and the second straight bonus win for the sophomore. That will setup a Midlands finals rematch between Northwestern’s #3 seed Ryan Deakin. The WIldcat wrestler was the winner of that matchup in December.
Iowa’s top seeded wrestler Alex Marineli had his was in the 165-pound against #16 Thomas Bullard of North Carolina State. The Bull’s 12-4 victory was his first bonus win of the tournament.
Things get interesting for the sophomore as his quarterfinals opponent will be #8 seed Mekhi Lewis of Virginia Tech. While the two have never met in NCAA competition, they did face one another in freestyle this summer with the Hokie wrestler coming out on top. The big difference between the two styles of course is the mat wrestling aspect, which Marinelli has shown he is well versed in.
Iowa’s incredible undefeated run came to an end during the 184-pound matches when #12 seed Cash Wilcke went down to #5 seed Max Dean in sudden victory. Wilcke led throughout most of the match, but stall warnings went against him late in the match that forced the match to sudden victory. There Dean was able to secure a takedown just over midway through the period to take the match 6-4.
The loss drops Wilcke to the consolation side of the bracket where he will wrestle the winner of Christian LaFragola of Brown and Mason Reinhardt of Wisconsin.
Dropping the second match for the Hawkeyes was redshirt freshman Jacob Warner, who was felled by #21 Thomas Lane of Cal Poly by the score of 4-2 in sudden victory. Warner got on the board first and was leading 2-0 late in the match when he gave up a takedown to Lane. The Cal Poly wrestler continued to attack and managed to score on Warner with short time remaining.
Warner will now face the winner of Sawyer Root of Citadel and Joshua Roetman of Navy in the consolation bracket. Warner will enter as the higher seeded wrestler by a good margin.
Getting things back on track for Iowa senior heavyweight Sam Stoll who came out on top 1-0 against Northwestern’s #12 seed Connan Jennings. A second period escape was the match’s only points, though Jenning’s attempted to push the pace near the end of the third period, but Stoll managed to fend off the attacks.
In the quarterfinals Stoll will face off against Lehigh’s #4 seed Jordan Wood. These two wrestlers were scheduled to meet back during the dual season in December, but injuries limited the amount of action Stoll saw. This will be the first career meeting between these two wrestlers.