Michael Kemerer returns to mat as Iowa men’s wrestling downs Minnesota, 22-10

The senior 174-pounder made his season debut Friday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa’s No. 2 ranked 174-pound Michael Kemerer grapples Minnesota’s No. 23 ranked Bailee O’Reilly. during a wrestling meet between No. 1 Iowa and No. 14 Minnesota at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday, Jan. 7, 2022. Kemerer won by decision, 9-2.

Chris Werner, Sports Reporter

Before the 174-pound bout of Friday night’s Iowa-Minnesota men’s wrestling dual began, fans at Carver-Hawkeye Arena were quiet. Spectators waited with bated breath to see which Hawkeye would trudge out of the tunnel to take on the Golden Gophers’ Bailee O’ Reilly.

Then, the silence in the venue was broken by Baha Men’s “Who Let the Dogs Out.” The hit song was quickly drowned out by the roar of Carver-Hawkeye Arena’s 15,000 patrons.

“Who Let the Dogs Out” is senior 174-pounder Michael Kemerer’s walk-up song. When it played at Carver Friday, it signaled the return of “KemDawg.”

“I always try to stay calm, stay in my match and everything,” Kemerer said Friday evening.“But you can’t help but notice it. It’s an unbelievable atmosphere. And especially when you’re watching your teammates, and you’re cheering them on. There’s just something different about when you’re the one coming out of that tunnel. 

“So, I’m grateful for every last time,” Kemerer added. “The times, they’re dwindling. So, I’m going to take advantage every time.”

Before he appeared on the mat Friday, Kemerer hadn’t wrestled since March 2021. The Pennsylvanian said he was working through an upper body injury earlier this season.

Despite the missed time and the injury, Kemerer looked sharp against O’Reilly Friday, picking up a convincing 9-2 win.

Kemerer earned his first two points of the season just 26 seconds into the bout. He racked up three total takedowns in the match.

“You know, score first, score fast, score often, or whatever the saying is,” Kemerer said. “That’s always the mentality and it had been a little bit [since I last wrestled]. So, it felt good to get those points on the board . . . Felt good to feel the energy. I mean, there’s no place like [Carver]. It was awesome.”

Kemerer told reporters after his match on Friday that he had targeted the Hawkeyes’ dual with the Golden Gophers as a potential date for his return earlier this year.

“I don’t know what he told you,” Iowa head coach Tom Brands said of Kemerer. “It’s his decision. People and fans, detractors, probably more so, would say that may be reckless. But he’s a seventh-year guy. And it’s his call . . . I thought [his performance] was great. And you can use that against me too. Because I said it was great and he won by seven. I thought it was great.”

Even with Kemerer making his season debut, Brands wasn’t impressed with his team’s performance Friday. Junior 184-pounder Abe Assad was the only Hawkeye to score bonus points against the Golden Gophers.

“You got to be ready when it’s your turn to step on the mat,” Brands said. “That’s probably why I’m agitated. You got to be ready to step on the mat. And we got to be ready against Purdue.”

The Hawkeyes will welcome the Boilermakers to Iowa City Sunday at 2 pm.

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