Iowa wrestling sets team scoring record, crowns five champions at Midlands

A historic 196.5 points led Iowa to its 29th Midlands championship and seventh in a row.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa’s 165-pound Alex Marinelli wrestles Bucknell’s Zachary Hartman during the third session of the 57th Annual Ken Kraft Midlands Championships at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, IL, on Monday, Dec. 30, 2019. Marinelli won by decision, 8-3.

Austin Hanson, Sports Reporter

For the seventh season in a row, Iowa wrestling brought home the Midlands team championship. This time around, it was in historic fashion.

Iowa overpowered the field on its way to the 29th Midlands crown in program history. The Hawkeyes set a tournament scoring record with 196.5 team points. Iowa broke the 189-point record it set in 2014.

Northern Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin were Iowa’s closest challengers, scoring 101, 94.5, and 93 points, respectively.

Five Hawkeyes took home individual titles at Midlands.

Max Murin kicked off Iowa’s championship chase in the final round. The tournament’s 133-pound action was flexed into Session IV’s main event. As a result, Murin and the rest of the 141-pound wrestlers took the mat first and did not disappoint. Murin earned his first Midlands title by defeating Joshua Heil 5-3.

Murin’s victory proved to be the first of what would be four-straight championship matches won for Iowa.

Pat Lugo also won his first Midlands championship by dethroning North Carolina’s Austin O’Connor. O’Connor and Lugo came into the match ranked first and third in the nation, respectively.

Lugo was the third-straight Hawkeye O’Connor faced. O’Connor defeated seniors Jeren Glosser and Vince Turk in the quarterfinals and semifinals. Turk and Glosser went on to finish fourth and sixth at 149-pounds.

Tony Cassioppi and Kaleb Young are first-time Midlands winners as well. Young advanced to the finals in dramatic fashion, defeating Purdue’s Kendall Coleman by fall with three seconds remaining in overtime in the 157-pound semifinal match.

Young’s overtime heroics continued during the final match. With 17 seconds remaining in the first overtime period, Young took down Army’s Markus Hartman to win the 157-pound bracket.

Cassioppi won his semifinal and final match via decision. The Illinois native dispatched Carter Isley of UNI, 11-5 and Central Michigan’s Matt Stencel, 5-1.

Alex Marinelli’s 2019 Midlands title was nothing new for him. The All-American took home his third-straight Midlands belt, toppling fifth-seeded Zach Hartman in the semifinals and third-seeded David McFadden in the finals.

Aside from its champions, Iowa saw many notable finishes across the board on Monday. No. 1 Austin DeSanto finished second in the 133-pound bracket, losing to No. 2 Seth Gross in the finals.

Despite multiple last-ditch takedown attempts by DeSanto, Gross hung on to win 6-5.

True freshman Abe Assad earned himself a silver medal too. After avenging teammate Nelson Brands’ loss to Zach Braunagel, Assad fell to first-seeded Taylor Lujan, 4-0 in the finals.

Assad was not the only Hawkeye to crack the tournament’s top three at 184-pounds.

Senior Cash Wilcke wrestled his way into third place via the consolation bracket. Wilcke began his consolation campaign by beating teammate Nelson Brands in the round of eight, 4-2. He then went on to defeat Jack Jessen and Andrew Morgan in the following two rounds.

Wilcke defeated Braunagel to officially take sole possession of third place.

Sophomore Jacob Warner took fourth place at 197-pounds after losing the third-place bout to Pat Brucki. The result came as a bit of a surprise considering Warner had defeated Brucki during a dual on Dec. 8.

Reigning national champion Spencer Lee finished 6th in the 125-pound bracket after taking a medical forfeit prior to his semifinal matchup with Northwestern’s Michael DeAugustino.

A strong showing at Midlands championships reaffirmed that the top-ranked Hawkeyes are a force to be reckoned with this season. Their seventh-straight Midlands team title only further cemented the Hawkeyes place at the top of collegiate wrestling.

However, head coach Tom Brands know that the wrestling season is long and that there is still work to be done.

“We have a good lineup,” Brands said. “We have a 125-pounder, we have a good heavyweight, we have a lot of good in-between there. We just have to put those final hammer pieces in there. And it’s not just that easy. You have to perform.”

Iowa will leap back into action against Indiana on Jan. 10 in Bloomington.

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