Iowa to Face Princeton on the Road on Sunday

Pat Lugo will face his third straight ranked opponent and second top five wrestler in that same stretch this weekend at Princeton – Nic Ryder Photo

Who: #1 Iowa 3-0 (1-0) vs #11 Princeton 1-0
Where: Princeton, New Jersey
When: Sunday, December 8, 2019 – 1:00 PM CT

The top ranked Hawkeyes are hitting the road and traveling east for a matchup with EIWA power Princeton this Sunday. Coming off of a dominating 32-3 performance against a top five ranked Wisconsin Badger team, Iowa is definitely riding a high as they enter this weekend’s dual. This fact is highlighted by all ten of Iowa’s wrestlers carrying a top ten ranking coming into this dual.

Princeton on the other hand has a busy weekend in front of them. Two days prior to their dual with Iowa the Tigers will be in Stillwater, Oklahoma to dual #10 Oklahoma State and then fly 1,300 miles home to turn around and face Iowa.

This is the second meeting in Iowa’s home-and-home exchange with Princeton. Last year the Hawkeyes racked up a 31-10 victory on their home mat, winning seven of the ten matches.

This year’s meeting will look a lot different. For starters Iowa will be without their two-time NCAA champion Spencer Lee, and redshirt freshman Aaron Cashman will instead get the nod at 125 pounds. The Tiger’s boast the #4 ranked Patrick Glory at 125, which would have setup a top five showdown at the weight. Instead Cashman will face baptism by fire, and hope he is able to match his fellow freshman teammates Nelson Brands and Tony Cassioppi who both have earned top five upsets in their young careers.

The absence of Lee is likely due to USA Wrestling’s Senior Nationals scheduled the following week in Texas. Lee and the Hawkeyes have made it no secret that the 125-pound star will be testing the Senior level waters and compete for a spot on the U.S.’s Olympic team this coming summer. With National’s being the largest qualifying event for the Olympic Trials it’s logical for Lee to make the transition to freestyle now as he gears up for what will be a high caliber event the following week.

Junior Austin DeSanto will make his debut match with his #1 ranking against Ty Agaisse. Coming off his 6-2 win over 2018 NCAA champion Seth Gross, DeSanto will look to continue to build on his strong start to the year.

Last weekend marked the dual return of Max Murin at 141 pounds. The sophomore was sidelined early in the season due to an undisclosed injury and prior to his start against Wisconsin his only appearance was a one match appearance at the Luther Open. In his return to action Murin appeared to pick up right where he left off last March, downing a tough conference opponent in Tristan Moran.

The other Hawkeye expected to travel to New Jersey is junior Carter Happel, who filled in for Murin two weeks ago at Iowa State.

The Tigers are without three-time All-American Matt Kolodzik at 149 pounds (fifth in 2019), but the drop off has been less than negligible as Mike D’angelo enters the dual ranked #5 in the country. That sets up the dual’s first top five meeting between D’angelo and Pat Lugo at 149. The Hawkeye senior comes in with a perfect record and has notched back-to-back ranked wins over Iowa State’s Jarrett Degen and Wisconsin’s Cole Martin.

One of the other big matches to look forward in this dual is the 157-pound bout between Kaleb Young and Quincy Monday. Last season Young walked away with a 7-4 win, but this season’s meeting could carry a lot a weight with both wrestlers entering with a top ten ranking. The duo are also among the top two wrestlers expected to compete later this month at the Midlands Championships.

Both Alex Marinelli and Michael Kemerer look poised to continue their strong starts to the year at 165 and 174 pounds respectively. Marinelli is coming off a big win over Wisconsin’s #3 ranked Evan Wick, while Kemerer enters this dual riding a three match bonus streak.

For the most part Iowa’s lineup has finally solidified though one of the lingering questions remaining is who will take hold of the 184-pound spot. So far redshirt freshman Nelson Brands looks to have the early lead winning back-to-back starts against Chattanooga and Iowa State – with the latter being a top five upset. On the other side of the lineup battle is returning starter Cash Wilcke, who’s season resume includes a Luther Open title and an overtime loss against Wisconsin’s Johnny Sebastian.

Princeton has bumped Travis Stefanik up from 174 pounds. The sophomore was a national qualifier a year ago and should be a tough test for whichever wrestler Tom Brands opts to go with on Sunday. Even if Brands returns to the starting role this battle will likely not be fully resolved until after Midlands.

That leads us into the dual’s marquee matchup between All-Americans Jacob Warner and Pat Brucki at 197 pounds. On paper it sets up a meeting between two top five wrestlers. In their only career meeting Brucki came out on top of a 4-2 match at the Midlands back in 2017 which was Warner’s true freshman season.

Another Hawkeye coming off a big upset is heavyweight Tony Cassioppi who defeated Trent Hilger. Last weekend’s win has catapulted Cassioppi up the rankings ladder going from #13 to #4 according to The Open Mat.

Dual Preview
#1 Iowa vs #11 Princeton
125 Aaron Cashman (Iowa) vs #4 Patrick Glory (Princeton)
133 #1 Austin DeSanto/Paul Glynn/Gavin Teasdale (Iowa) vs Ty Agaisse (Princeton)
141 #6 Max Murin/Carter Happel (Iowa) vs Pat D’arcy/Marshall Keller (Princeton)
149 #4 Pat Lugo (Iowa) vs #5 Mike D’angelo (Princeton)
157 #4 Kaleb Young (Iowa) vs #9 Quincy Monday (Princeton)
165 #2 Alex Marinelli (Iowa) vs Dale Tiongson/Grant Cuomo (Princeton)
174 #3 Michael Kemerer (Iowa) vs Kevin Parker (Princeton)
184 #10 Nelson Brands/Cash Wilcke (Iowa) vs Travis Stefanik (Princeton)
197 #3 Jacob Warner (Iowa) vs #2 Pat Brucki (Princeton)
285 #4 Tony Cassioppi (Iowa) vs Aiden Conner (Princeton)

*TOM rankings used