No. 1 Hawkeyes sweep triangular meet in West Lafayette

After a slow start, Iowa rallied to defeat Purdue and then Ohio State in a Sunday afternoon doubleheader.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa’s 285-pound Tony Cassioppi wrestles Wisconsin’s Trent Hillger during a wrestling match between No.1 Iowa and No. 6 Wisconsin at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019. Cassioppi won by decision, 3-2, and the Hawkeyes defeated the Badgers, 32-3. (Shivansh Ahuja/The Daily Iowan)

Chris Werner, Sports Reporter

On Jan. 22, when Iowa battled Minnesota, Hawkeye heavyweight Tony Cassioppi – the third-ranked wrestler at that weight nationally – was defeated by No. 1 Gable Steveson via major decision.

After the dual, head coach Tom Brands said that if Cassioppi was going to beat Steveson down the road – presumably in the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments – the sophomore heavyweight needed to have more urgency on the mat.

In his three matches since the loss to Steveson, Cassioppi has certainly wrestled urgently.

Cassioppi has gone 3-0 since the Minnesota dual, pinning all of his opponent during that stretch.

Two of his most recent victories came on Sunday afternoon against Purdue’s Dorian Keys and No. 10 Tate Orndorff of Ohio State.

“Well, three falls in a row,” Brands said of Cassioppi. “We’re very high on him. We’re going to have to do some extraordinary things to take out a guy like Steveson, but just because you have to do something extraordinary doesn’t mean that it can’t happen. We’re on track and we’re moving in the right direction, we’re not sucking our thumb.”

Cassioppi’s two falls on Sunday aided the Hawkeyes to a 31-18 victory over Purdue and a 33-14 thrashing of Ohio State.

The first dual against the Boilermakers featured three reserves for Iowa. Spencer Lee sat out against No. 11 Devin Schroder at 125-pounds and reserve Aaron Cashman lost via technical fall in his place.

Zach Axmear got the call at 157-pounds for both duals on Sunday as Kaleb Young tested positive for COVID-19 during the trip to West Lafayette. Axmear was defeated by both of his opponents.

Joe Kelly and Bretli Reyna split the matches at 165-pounds at Sunday’s triangular meet, each losing their match filling in for Alex Marinelli, who is currently in the Big Ten Conference’s COVID-19 protocol.

Luckily for the Hawkeyes, their stars showed up when their reserves faltered.

Against Purdue, pins by Cassioppi and seniors Jaydin Eierman and Michael Kemerer helped Iowa total 13 bonus points.

Versus Ohio State, Lee started things off with a fall over Brady Koontz just 1:32 into the action and Iowa recorded two more bonus-point wins before Hawkeye 149-pounder and No. 5 Max Murin stepped to the mat to face No. 2 Sammy Sasso.

After Murin missed the mark with several of his shots, Sasso capped the match, pinning Murin with under 10 seconds remaining in the third period.

“The biggest thing with Murin is that he’s got to realize that he doesn’t have to keep his hands locked … You just can’t hang on there,” Brands said. “You need to make the adjustment there. If you lock your hands in there, you’re gonna have a hard time getting the angle.”

The pin gave Ohio State six points, drawing them to within 11 points of Iowa’s lead. The Buckeyes then rattled off two more wins to close the gap to three with four matches remaining.

Then, all four of Iowa’s remaining wrestlers defeated their Buckeye foes, scoring four bonus points in the final two bouts to preserve the second Hawkeye win of the day.

Iowa’s next dual will come on the road against No. 4 Penn State on Feb. 12. The meet will begin at 8 p.m. and air on the Big Ten Network.