No. 1 Hawkeyes dominate No. 15 Golden Gophers in first road meet of the season

A Spencer Lee win via fall in the opening match of Friday night’s contest gave the Hawkeyes an early lead that they would not relinquish.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa’s 125-pound Spencer Lee prepares to wrestle during the second session of the 57th Annual Ken Kraft Midlands Championships at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, IL, on Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019.

Chris Werner, Sports Reporter

Sometimes, a final score can be misleading. Two teams can be more evenly matched than they appear to be in the post-event box score.

When Iowa’s wrestling team traveled to Minneapolis to take on Minnesota on Friday night, that was not the case.

The Hawkeyes dominated the Golden Gophers, picking up wins in nine of 10 weight classes – three via major decision, one by technical fall, and one via pin.

When the dust settled, Iowa had defeated Minnesota, 35-4, moving to 2-0 on the season.

“Good lopsided win,” head coach Tom Brands said. “A lot of good things, a lot of hustle. But, there’s also things where I know we can score more points and maybe be more efficient as well.”

The Hawkeyes burst out of the gate Friday night, picking up a quick win in the first match of the evening. Top-ranked Spencer Lee pinned No. 9 Patrick McKee in just under two minutes, giving Iowa an early 6-0 lead. McKee shared the Big Ten Wrestler of the Week Award with Lee for the week of Jan. 16.

“He’s still getting better,” Brands said of Lee. “We love Spencer Lee, we love his approach. We love what he’s done with this team.”

Apart from performing at the highest level on the mat, Lee has shown leadership in other ways. The Murrysville, Pennsylvania, native helped bolster the Hawkeyes’ roster prior to the 2018 season when he aided in the recruitment of 133-pound Drexel transfer Austin DeSanto.

“Austin DeSanto is leaving Drexel and he’s coming to either Iowa, or X, or Y, or Z, and Spencer Lee actively recruited him,” Brands said. “There’s zero ego there, so it’s no surprise that he’s getting better every day.”

DeSanto – ranked fifth nationally at his weight – wrestled immediately after his recruiter Friday night, and made quick work of his opponent ­– 20th-ranked Boo Dryden. The Hawkeye standout won via technical superiority after 5:53 of wrestling, putting the Hawkeyes up 11-0 on the night.

After two more convincing Hawkeye wins, Kaleb Young earned the first close win of the match for Iowa.

In a matchup at 157 pounds featuring two top-ten talents, No. 7 Young defeated No. 6 Brayton Lee, 4-3, after tiebreaker No. 2. Behind in the third and final period after surrendering a point via penalty early on, Young scored a takedown to force sudden victory and eventually earn three points for the visitors via decision.

“What a gutsy match,” Brands said. “You get a penalty point; you don’t let it affect you. Gutsy win there.”

Although Friday’s date with Minnesota marked the second dual of the season for the Hawkeyes, it was the first of the year for senior Michael Kemerer.

After sitting out last week’s opener with an unspecified injury, the top-ranked Kemerer handled unranked Jake Allar with ease, coming away with a 12-3 major decision in his first appearance this season.

Iowa could be challenged next weekend as it welcomes No. 2 Michigan to Carver-Hawkeye Arena for a triangular meet with Illinois on Sunday. The meet will begin at 11 a.m. and be aired on the Big Ten Network.