Hawkeyes rally to beat Nittany Lions following DeSanto injury

133-pounder Austin DeSanto went down with an injury during his bout with Roman Bravo-Young early on. Despite the adversity, the Hawkeyes rallied to defeat Penn State.


Iowa’s Austin DeSanto lays injured during a bout against Penn State’s Roman Bravo-Young during a wrestling dual meet between No. 1 Iowa and No. 2 Penn State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. (Shivansh Ahuja/The Daily Iowan)

Austin Hanson, Assistant Sports Editor

There was no shortage of pregame pageantry before Iowa’s 19-17 win over Penn State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday night. A sold-out arena loaded with more than 16,000 Hawkeye fans were heard in full force before wrestlers from either side took the mat.

After reigning national champion Spencer Lee defeated Penn State’s Brandon Meredith by technical fall to kick off the evening, the noise at Carver was deafening. Then, the building suddenly fell silent.

With just under 1:15 remaining, No. 2 Austin DeSanto fell to the floor and told his coaches he could not continue.

“I’m not [concerned about DeSanto],” Iowa head coach Tom Brands said. “I don’t get too work up about this stuff until we know a lot more.”

An apparent knee injury was inflicted upon DeSanto by No. 3 Roman Bravo-Young. Following a long medical timeout, DeSanto returned to the mat, limping noticeably. Unfortunately for the Hawkeyes, DeSanto could only wrestle on one leg for so long.

“I don’t know how much [DeSanto] has been injured like this,” Brands said. “I think he probably, maybe could’ve handled that a little bit differently with being a little bit calmer on the mat and those types of things. At that point, we’re either going to pull you off the mat, or you’re going to go wrestle. His calmness helps a lot there, and I don’t know how calm he was. I think if we could’ve gotten him calmed down a little bit, I think he could’ve gotten back in that match.”

DeSanto’s teammates had his back, talking him through his emotions after the match.

“I went upstairs after [the 141-pound match], and Spencer [Lee] was in there just talking to DeSanto, working him through the match, telling him that doesn’t really matter right now, March is what matters.” 285-pounder Tony Cassioppi said. “We got a great group of guys who support everyone on the team.”

The medical default earned the Nittany Lions six team points and a 6-4 lead through two matches. Iowa had a point deducted for mat conduct.

“We went after the official on the DeSanto thing,” Brands said. “We’re better than that; we have to be better than that.”

Following DeSanto’s match, 141-pounder Carter Happel did not sway momentum back in favor of the Hawkeyes. The Lisbon, Iowa, native was defeated by No. 2 Nick Lee via technical fall. Iowa fans sat in shock as their juggernaut trailed Penn State, 11-4.

Junior Kaleb Young cut the deficit down four going to intermission after defeating Bo Pipher by decision.

The other side of the intermission wasn’t much friendlier to the Hawkeyes. No. 2 Alex Marinelli fell to No. 1 Vincenzo Joseph via decision. Iowa trailed Penn State 14-10 with four weights go.

No. 2 Michael Kemerer defeated No. 1 Mark Hall, 11-6. Kemerer’s victory brought the Hawkeye faithful back to life. Jacob Warner and Tony Cassioppi followed suit.

“Everybody always talks about Iowa being a lightweight school,” Kemerer said. “So it’s good for us bigger guys to finally get some clout.”