All-American Austin DeSanto matures through being a Hawkeye

In his first season in the Black-and-Gold, Austin DeSanto has matured his wrestling and emotions to reach the NCAA podium.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa’s 133-pound Austin DeSanto celebrates becoming an All-American during his match against Iowa State’s Austin Gomez during the fourth session of the 2019 NCAA D1 Wrestling Championships at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, PA on Friday, March 22, 2019. DeSanto won by major decision, 16-5.

Anna Kayser, Assistant Sports Editor

PITTSBURGH – Iowa’s 133-pounder Austin DeSanto might not have seen the results he wanted in the consolation bracket or the NCAA Championships overall, but through his first season as a Hawkeye he has seen growth both on the mat and in his life.

DeSanto is known for his fire on and off the mat that at times has caused trouble for the Hawkeyes in team points. With the help of coaches Tom and Terry Brands, he’s learned how to begin to reel in his emotions.

“You can see me maturing outside of my wrestling with my mentality and going into matches and how I handle my losses,” DeSanto said. “I need a little bit more work. I just let it be known when I don’t like a guy a little too much. “

His work both on and off the mat comes from his relationship with his coaches and the opportunities they bring him in a program that is known for its success.

What helps, to some extent, is the intensity that both of the Brands coaches have every day.

“I like to think I’m like that,” DeSanto said. “They have to reel me in a little bit and teach me some life lessons a lot but I think I mesh with them a lot.”

Tom Brands has seen DeSanto through the changes he’s made both on the mat and in life, and that had to do a lot with changing perspective without losing himself.

And according to Brands, that all comes with poise.

“Instead of being who you want to be and letting things fly off wherever they go and then you follow that, it’s more about being who you are but also there’s some responsibility there,” Brands said. “I saw the growth in growth and maturity, but still maintaining the fire in him.”

For DeSanto, his coaches are his favorite part of the Hawkeye wrestling program.

With Iowa’s continued success as a program, that brings opportunities for wrestlers to learn and grow.

“Tom and Terry Brands are the real deal,” DeSanto said. “They’re men of men, they make men. You get to wrestle with those men that they made that are real tough, hard, they do it right, they do everything right, they take no short cuts and you kind of learn that.”

On the mat, DeSanto – like some of his teammates – can describe his losses in detail, but sometimes not their wins. It creates an edge that he brought into NCAAs with the hope of avenging losses from earlier in the season.

In the last meet of the season, Daton Fix from Oklahoma State beat DeSanto for just his second loss of the year. At the Big Ten Championships, Nick Suriano from Rutgers sent DeSanto into the consolation bracket.

From those losses and his NCAA consolation semifinal loss to Luke Pletcher from Oklahoma State, he’s discovered what he needs to do better.

“You know what I wanted in the end, to be there in the finals and see how that plays out,” DeSanto said. “Wrestle Suriano again, wrestle Fix again. I’ve got to mature my wrestling a little bit, fire off shots and know when I don’t fire off shots that I can get to my offense against a guy like Pletcher who’s really saavy.”

Losing in the consolation semis is one match from NCAAs that DeSanto dwells on.

“It seems kind of like in high school a little bit,” DeSanto said. “Didn’t qualify my first year for states, took fifth the second year. I didn’t want that. I wanted to get the next best thing, which was third. It kind of hurts.”

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