By the numbers: Iowa wrestling’s first day of the Big Ten Championships

Iowa goes into Sunday with the team lead after a strong showing on the first day of Big Tens.


Nichole Harris

Iowa’s 174-pound Michael Kemerer grapples with Minnesota’s Devin Skatzka during session two of the Big Ten Wrestling Tournament in Piscataway, NJ on Saturday, March 7, 2020. Kemerer won by major decision, 22-9. (Nichole Harris/The Daily Iowan)

Robert Read, Sports Editor

PISCATAWAY, NJ – It was a big day for Iowa wrestling on the first day of the 2020 Big Ten Championships. The Hawkeyes have the team lead and will send four wrestlers into championship matches on Sunday.

Sunday will be the biggest day of Iowa’s eventful season. Before then, here’s the numbers that stood out for the Hawkeyes on day one in New Jersey.

21 – Iowa’s wins on Day One

The Hawkeyes put up an impressive record of 21-6 as a team on Saturday. Seven of Iowa’s 10 wrestlers advanced into the semifinals after the first session. Heading into day two, four Hawkeyes are in the championship round and five others are alive in the consolation bracket.

Of Iowa’s 21 wins, 15 of them were bonus-point wins. That’s been the difference so far as to why the Hawkeyes stand at the top of the team leaderboard.

Iowa’s six losses on day one came by a combined 13 points and five of those matches were decided by two points or fewer.

The only match that seemed out of hand for Iowa on Saturday was Tony Cassioppi’s bout at 285 against Minnesota’s Gable Steveson in the semifinals. Cassioppi never got any offense going and Steveson controlled the entire match, winning 9-4.

3 – Hawkeyes returning to the finals

Four Hawkeyes will wrestle for the conference gold on Sunday. Three of them have been in this situation before.

Spencer Lee, Alex Marinelli, and Michael Kemerer have all been in a conference championship bout before. Pat Lugo is the only Hawkeye who is wrestling in the championship round who has not done so previously.

Marinelli returns to the finals at 165 after winning the Big Ten title in the weight class last season. The junior defeated Vincenzo Joseph of Penn State, the top-seed. These two will have a rematch on Sunday in the finals.

It’s well known that, despite having two NCAA championships, Lee is without a Big Ten title. He lost in the conference finals last season to Northwestern’s Sebastian Rivera. Lee is once again in good position in the final round this year and has the chance to bring home an elusive Big Ten Championship.

Kemerer is returning to the finals for the first time since 2017. As a redshirt freshman, Kemerer made the finals at 157 pounds. He lost to Penn State’s Jason Nolf. The victory for Nolf pushed him to 22-0 on the season.

35-3 – How much Lee outscored his opponents by on Day One

If it was not made clear earlier, Lee is a great wrestler. He doubled down on that fact Saturday.

Lee won by fall and 19-3 technical fall Saturday to advance to the finals. On the season, he is outscoring opponents 218-16. The two victories push Lee’s record to 17-0 on the season. Of those wins, 16 of them have been bonus-point wins.

The only thing alluding Lee at this point is a Big Ten Championship. If his wrestling on the first day of the Big Ten Championship was any indicator, Lee could very well find himself at the top of the podium after his finals match on Sunday.

Session three begins at noon E.T. with championship matches to follow, starting at 3:30.

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