Hawkeye wrestling not fazed by mid-season injuries

Two Hawkeyes have been in and out of the lineup recently with injuries, but that isn't deterring Iowa's winning mentality.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa’s 133-pound Austin DeSanto wrestles Ohio State’s Jordan Decatur during a wrestling dual meet between No. 1 Iowa and No. 4 Ohio State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. No. 2 DeSanto defeated No. 18 Decatur by technical fall in 5:59, and the Hawkeyes defeated the Buckeyes, 24-10. (Shivansh Ahuja/The Daily Iowan)

Austin Hanson, Assistant Sports Editor

Iowa wrestling has looked nearly unstoppable this season. The Hawkeyes are 10-0 and have by an average margin of 28.7 points per dual.

One opponent Iowa hasn’t completely vanquished this year has been the injury bug.

The first Hawkeye to go down with an injury was Max Murin. The All-American hasn’t wrestled outside of practice since Jan. 18. He’s missed duals against Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan State.

“Murin’s good,” head coach Tom Brands said. “He wants to go, and we got to be smart. We’re going to do the right thing. We’re going to be conservative when it’s time to be conservative with those types of situations. We’re going to be moderate when it’s time to be moderate. Then when it’s time to be aggressive, and when our medical team is comfortable with the safety level, then we’ll be aggressive.”

Austin DeSanto was also injured recently. The All-American hurt his knee during his match against Penn State’s Roman Bravo-Young last Friday. Subsequently, DeSanto did not travel to East Lansing with the Hawkeyes for their dual against Michigan State on Sunday.

“We’ll find out more [on DeSanto]. Preliminary stuff is, we don’t have to amputate,” Brands joked. “He’s handling it good; he’s been in the room. He didn’t make the trip with us, because it wouldn’t make sense to put the guy on a bus for 14 hours with that type of thing.”

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Despite the uncertainty’s injuries have brought about, the Hawkeyes are still confident they can compete with anybody.

“No, I don’t think [injuries put pressure on the rest of the lineup], not for me especially,” senior Pat Lugo said. “It’s an individual sport. It definitely affects the team if one guy’s injured. Like this past weekend, we had DeSanto sitting out, but you know, everyone’s just doing what they do, doing their job, and the team will handle itself, and the winning will handle itself. Just go out there and have fun.”

Redshirt freshman Tony Cassioppi isn’t feeling the pressure either. Iowa has a do-your-job mentality, and he emphasized that.

“Scoring wise, yes [injuries affect the team], but it doesn’t really matter,” Cassioppi said. “We’re staying in our match. We’re focused on our match. Spencer Lee could get tackled by a fan and dragged off the mat for the 125-pound match, but that doesn’t matter. I still have to go out there and wrestle at heavyweight.”

In addition to their can-do attitude, the Hawkeyes have experience dealing with injuries. Michael Kemerer missed all of Iowa’s 2018-19 campaign with knee and shoulder injuries. The senior has come back this season 20 pounds heavier and full of fresh perspective.

“I’ve had to learn,” Kemerer said. “You might wrestle a certain way, but let’s protect ourselves, because we’re getting older now. We’re in the grind. You got to protect your body. You don’t want to be wrestling every match of your career hurt.

“That’s a whole side of it people might not even think of when they get here. It’s just staying on top of your rehab or being proactive, wrestling smart, and not putting yourself in dangerous situations.”

Time for the Hawkeyes to get healthy is limited. Iowa has three matchups against No. 22 Michigan, No. 13 Minnesota, and No. 11 Oklahoma State over the next three weeks.

Postseason wrestling begins with the Big Ten Championships on March 7.

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