Kemerer downs top-ranked Hall, shines in victory over Penn State

Iowa’s Michael Kemerer gave the Hawkeyes a spark when they needed it the most by toppling No. 1 Mark Hall.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa’s 174-pound Michael Kemerer wrestles Penn State’s Mark Hall during a wrestling dual meet between No. 1 Iowa and No. 2 Penn State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. No. 2 Kemerer defeated No. 1 Hall by decision, 11-6, and the Hawkeyes defeated the Nittany Lions, 19-17. (Shivansh Ahuja/The Daily Iowan)

Pete Ruden, Pregame Editor

A once raucous crowd turned quiet early in Iowa wrestling’s dual against Penn State on Friday.

After Austin DeSanto lost by injury default at 133 pounds and Carter Happel fell to Nick Lee at 141, the air had been sucked out of Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Penn State held an 11-4 lead after three matches. But a few bouts later, Michael Kemerer changed everything.

Despite the Nittany Lion lead — which had been at 14-10 — No. 2 Kemerer toppled top-ranked Mark Hall, 11-6, in a roller coaster of a match at 174 pounds before Iowa secured a 19-17 victory.

“It doesn’t really change — you got to stay in your match,” Kemerer said. “I saw we were down big, and it just doesn’t change what I got to do. I got to go out and wrestle, and do what I train to do. If we were getting blown out or if we were winning, it doesn’t change what I got to do out there.”

Even after Pat Lugo and Kaleb Young picked up back-to-back victories when Iowa fell into its early hole, Alex Marinelli lost his first match at Carver-Hawkeye.

Kemerer entered his bout with the Hawkeyes facing a four-point deficit.

Hall nearly took control of the match with an early takedown, but Kemerer turned it around to secure a takedown of his own. Still, Hall recorded a reversal to knot it up.

After Kemerer escaped, Hall took the Hawkeye down, but Kemerer closed the first period with a reversal to take a 5-4 lead into the second.

Hall posted two escapes in the second, but a Kemerer takedown didn’t change the lead.

In the final period, Kemerer escaped early and fought off a shot from Hall to come up with a takedown to essentially end the match.

A decision for Kemerer. A game-changer for the Hawkeyes.

“[When you’re losing], you talk to individuals and you wrestle your match, and that’s what Kemerer did,” Iowa head coach Tom Brands said. “That’s what Kemerer did, and it was a steady onslaught. It was back and forth for a while. We stayed on it. We didn’t try to win a close match by putting the brakes on.”

After Kemerer’s victory, Abe Assad lost at 184 pounds. But Jacob Warner and Tony Cassioppi closed the dual out with two clutch decisions to propel the Hawkeyes past the Nittany Lions.

Despite Marinelli’s loss and DeSanto’s injury, Iowa didn’t hang its heads.

“We got a great group of guys,” Cassioppi said. “We stayed in our matches. We didn’t let the effects of the other matches boil into our match. We all were focused on what we had to do.”

Although Iowa toppled Penn State — the Hawkeyes’ first victory over the Nittany Lions since 2015 — there’s still a long way to go.

Iowa will see the same foe during the Big Ten Championships and NCAA Championships.

Kemerer will likely see Hall in both of those competitions, as well.

For a Pennsylvania native like Kemerer, a win over the Nittany Lions means a lot. But he knows there’s still work to be done.

“If anything, it’s just respect to Penn State, how good they’ve been, and how dominant they’ve been,” Kemerer said. “We’re going to have to beat them at Big Tens and we’ll have to beat them at nationals. I’ll have to beat my opponent at Big Tens and nationals most likely.”