Austin DeSanto switches to Black and Gold

Pennsylvania native Austin DeSanto joins the Iowa wrestling team this year, looking to fill one of the six weight classes open for the taking.


Shivansh Ahuja

Austin DeSanto answers questions during Wrestling Media Day at the Dan Gable Wrestling Complex on Monday, November 5, 2018. (Shivansh Ahuja/The Daily Iowan)

Sarah Altemeier, Sports Reporter

The Iowa wrestling team includes a handful of new faces this season, one of them being sophomore Austin DeSanto.

“He’s a new face,” head coach Tom Brands said. “He brings an energy and a competitiveness that is contagious. There’s a lot out there about maybe there’s only one program for him; that’s this program. There’s one coach for him; that’s this coach.”

DeSanto wrestled at Drexel last season, where he finished the season 29-7 and put himself in the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament. He also placed third in the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association championship.

Although he had success in Philadelphia, DeSanto hung up his blue and yellow singlet for a black and gold one.

In Iowa’s wrestle-offs on Nov. 1-2, DeSanto caught people’s attention when he beat junior Paul Glynn on both days for the 133-pound spot. On Nov. 9, DeSanto made his Hawkeye début in Kent, Ohio. He won both of his matches, including defeating No. 18 Sean Nickell of Cal State-Bakersfield.

Being the fifth member of the Hawkeye wrestling team from Pennsylvania, DeSanto is not a brand-new face to all — he and sophomore Spencer Lee have met on the mat before. In 2016, Lee easily handled DeSanto, claiming the Pennsylvania state title and winning 15-0. But the next year, DeSanto put himself at the top of the podium after defeating Lee, 6-5.

The Brands brothers had their eye on DeSanto, especially after that victory, but he had already signed with Drexel.

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As they go from high-school competitors to Divison-1 college teammates, there are no hard feelings between the two. Lee had nothing but good things to say about his new teammate.

“He brings a lot of energy and a fire,” Lee said “If you’re working as hard as Austin DeSanto, then you’re working pretty dang hard. We’re going to build a lot of good memories in the next three years.”

DeSanto has big plans for this season — he aims to become an NCAA champion alongside his new teammate.

“I want to do the same thing [Lee] did last year,“ DeSanto said. “That should be everybody’s goal, right?“

Brands also has hopes for DeSanto this season. He wants DeSanto to keep his energy and drive that gives him an edge over the competition without being too overly aggressive on the mat.

But Brands is clear that DeSanto brims with positivity.

“What kind of kid is [DeSanto]?” Brands said. “Very respectful, motivated, do the right thing, win, graduate, do it right.”

DeSanto will wrestle for the first time at Carver-Hawkeye when Iowa takes on Princeton at 1 p.m. Friday.

“I’m pretty pumped,” he said. “The fans are crazy, that’s what they keep telling me. And Tom keeps telling me I’m going to be a fan favorite, hopefully. I just like to score points, so it’s going to be fun.”

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