Iowa men’s wrestling notebook | Session III recap, Session IV preview

Three Iowa men’s wrestlers will compete in the semifinals of the 2023 NCAA Championships on Friday at 7 p.m.


Ayrton Breckenridge

No. 4 seeded 285-pound Iowa’s Tony Cassioppi flex after wrestling No. 5 seeded 285-pound Arizona State’s Cohlton Schultz during session three of the NCAA Wrestling Championships at BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla. on Friday, March 17, 2023. Cassioppi defeated Schultz in sudden victory, 3-1.

Kenna Roering, Sports Reporter

TULSA— Six Iowa men’s wrestlers are still alive after Session III of the 2023 NCAA Championships. The Hawkeyes sit in second place in the team race with 48 points, while Penn State is pulling away from the rest of the field with 78 points.

Session IV will begin at 7 p.m.  Semifinal matches will be televised live on ESPN while consolation bouts will be on ESPN+.

Three Iowa grapplers advanced to Friday night’s semifinals — 125-pound Spencer Lee, 141-pound Real Woods, and heavyweight Tony Cassioppi. All seven of the Nittany Lions’ quarterfinalists advanced to the semifinal round.

Lee won his quarterfinal match against Lock Haven’s No. 8 seed Anthony Noto, 14-4, but he wasn’t pleased with his performance. Lee started the bout strong with a takedown and two four-point near falls in the first period. Lee started down in the second, and Noto turned him for back points, inciting “oohs” from the packed crowd inside the BOK Center.

Lee said after the match that he needs to score more points, and “it’s that simple.” With the victory, Lee secured a spot on the podium and his fifth All-American honor — former Iowa wrestler Michael Kemerer is the only other five-time All-American in program history.

Lee will face Purdue’s fourth-seeded Matt Ramos in the semifinals. In this year’s dual meet between the Hawkeyes and Boilermakers, Ramos led 8-1 and nearly pinned Lee. But Lee kept battling and ended up pinning Ramos with six seconds left in the first period.

After a narrow 7-5 victory over Ohio State’s No. 17 seed Dylan D’Emilio last night, Woods came out and defeated Missouri’s eighth-seeded Allan Hart, 9-0, with 3:18 of riding time to advance to the semifinals. Woods said after the bout that he made adjustments in his preparation, such as nutrition and warm-ups, and felt more like himself today on the mat.

The victory clinched the Stanford transfer a podium finish and his third All-American honor — his first at Iowa.

Woods said wrestling in the Big Ten has helped him at the national tournament because he’s more likely to compete against grapplers he met in the regular season. The Big Ten received 88 NCAA Championship allocations and 11 at-large bids — the most of any conference.  Allocations were decided based on regular season performance by conference wrestlers through Feb. 19.

Tonight in the semifinals, Woods will battle Nebraska’s No. 4 seed Brock Hardy for the third time this season. Woods beat Hardy, 6-4, in this year’s dual meet and 2-1 in the Big Ten Tournament finals.

“I’ve always respected [Hardy] as a wrestler and I’m excited to go a third time,” Woods said.  “It’s fun, he’s a fun competitor. I’m just grateful to have such a great competitor across from me.”

Cassioppi was the final Hawkeye to advance to the semifinals, and he did it in clutch fashion. Cassioppi defeated Arizona State’s Cohlton Schultz, 3-1, in sudden victory to claim his third All-American honor and put Iowa fans in attendance on their feet.

Cassioppi and Schultz previously faced each other at the United World Wrestling’s Junior Greco-Roman World Team Trials and split their matches.

“I threw by the undertook to the [ankle] and felt deep,” Cassioppi said of his winning takedown after the match. “I just kept wrestling. He tried to kick out a little bit, tried to roll around, and I just stayed solid.”

Cassioppi will face Michigan’s top-seeded Mason Parris tonight. Cassioppi is 0-4 all-time against Parris, including a 9-7 loss in this year’s dual meet. Cassioppi said he needs to “keep wrestling [his] match, [his] pace, and [his] spots,” for the entire bout against Parris to complete the upset.

The three other Hawkeyes that are still in contention for a podium finish are 149-pound Max Murin, 174-pound Nelson Brands, and 197-pound Jacob Warner. Murin narrowly lost to Cornell’s three-time national champion and top-seeded Yianni Diakomihalis, 8-7, in the quarterfinals.

Murin can still place as high as third and will battle Michigan’s No. 22 seed Chance Lamer in the bloodround. If Murin wins, he will wrestle again tonight in the consolation quarterfinals. Murin beat Lamer, 10-4, in this season’s dual meet against the Wolverines.

Brands lost a tough match to Virginia Tech’s No. 3 seed Mekhi Lewis, 2-0, to move to the consolation bracket. Brands will face Illinois’ No. 9 seed Edmond Ruth. Brands defeated Ruth, 2-1, in this season’s dual meet and 5-1 in the 2023 Big Ten Tournament fifth-place bout. If Brands prevails he will advance to the consolation quarterfinals.

Warner won his first match today against Virginia’s No. 20 seed Evan Bockman by fall in 1:59. Shortly after, he returned to the mat and took down North Carolina State’s Isaac Trumble, 9-3. Warner will meet Nebraska’s No. 8 seed Silas Allred, who he beat in the regular season, 3-2, tonight for a berth to the consolation quarterfinals.

Iowa’s 133-pound Brody Teske, 157-pound Cobe Siebrecht, and 165-pound Patrick Kennedy lost their matches this afternoon and were eliminated from the tournament.

“A lot of work to do,” Iowa head coach Tom Brands said after Session II. “Guys are scoring points. And that’s what you have to do, score points. If you score points, you’re fine. That’s where we’re at.”

Here’s a full recap of Session III results:


125 POUNDS: No. 1 Spencer Lee (IA) major dec. No. 8 Anthony Noto (LH), 14-4

141 POUNDS: No. 1 Real Woods (IA) major dec. No. 8 Allan Hart (MIZ), 9-0

149 POUNDS: No. 1 Yianni Diakomihalis (COR) dec. No. 9 Max Murin (IA), 8-7

174 POUNDS: No. 3 Mekhi Lewis (VT) dec. No. 11 Nelson Brands (IA), 2-0

285 POUNDS: No. 4 Tony Cassioppi (IA) dec. No. 5 Cohlton Schultz (ASU), 3-1 (SV1)


133 POUNDS: No. 9 Micky Phillippi (PITT) dec. No. 23 Brody Teske (IA), 4-1

157 POUNDS: No. 13 Trevor Chumbley (NW) pinned No. 14 Cobe Siebrecht (IA), 6:43

165 POUNDS: No. 6 Patrick Kennedy (IA) dec. No. 28 Andrew Sparks (MINN), 6-3

165 POUNDS: No. 4 Julian Ramirez (COR) dec. No. 6 Patrick Kennedy (IA), 5-2

184 POUNDS:  No. 11 Gavin Kane (UNC) dec. No. 12 Abe Assad (IA), 4-3

197 POUNDS: No. 14 Jacob Warner (IA) pinned No. 20 Evan Bockman (UVU), 1:59

197 POUNDS: No. 14 Jacob Warner (IA) dec. No. 6 Isaac Trumble (NCST), 9-3

Session IV matches


125 POUNDS: No. 1 Spencer Lee (IA) vs. No. 4 Matt Ramos (PUR)

141 POUNDS: No. 1 Real Woods (IA) vs. No. 4 Brock Hardy (NEB)

285 POUNDS:  No. 4 Tony Cassioppi (IA) vs. No. 1 Mason Parris (MICH)


149 POUNDS: No. 9 Max Murin (IA) vs. No. 22 Chance Lamer (MICH)

174 POUNDS: No. 11 Nelson Brands (IA) vs. No. 9 Edmond Ruth (ILL)

197 POUNDS: No. 14 Jacob Warner (IA) vs. No. 8 Silas Allred (NEB)

Team leaders after Session III

1. Penn State, 78

2. Iowa, 48

3. Cornell, 45.5

4. Nebraska, 44.5

5. Michigan, 39