Last Updated 6:39 PM, March 07, 2021

Iowa Hawkeyes win the 2021 Big Ten wrestling championship

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A look back at the Iowa Hawkeyes wrestling dynasty
3:38
11:37 pm, March 7, 2021

Iowa wins team title

The Iowa Hawkeyes rolled through the Big Ten tournament as expected, crowning four champions and securing the team title before the 157 pound weight class. Two-time NCAA champion and now two-time Big Ten champion Spencer Lee led the Hawkeyes with a tech, pin and tech in his three matches for bonus points, but he was joined on the top of the podium by teammates Jaydin Eierman, Alex Marinelli, and Michael Kemerer. 

Eierman, a transfer from Missoui, picked up his first Big Ten crown after winning three in the MAC, and it’s clear that Eierman is all about being a Hawkeye. "This is why I transferred, to get better and better and better every day,” Eierman said after his win. Eierman is surrounded by an elite training partner at 133 pounds in Big Ten finalists Austin DeSanto, and two weights above him is another Big Ten finalist Kaleb Young. This Hawkeye program has embraced Eierman and his funky style, and he’s ready to chase his first individual title and a team title in a few weeks in St. Louis. 

Veterans Michael Kemerer and Alex Marinelli came through as well, picking up their third and first titles respectively. The leadership and poise of the Hawkeyes has been impressive all year, as the Black and Gold have wrestled with a target on their back since March 2020. The expectations were high, but the Hawkeyes met them with ease. The team now looks for their first NCAA title in a decade, anchored behind their conference champions in Lee, Eierman, Marinelli and Kemerer.  

11:21 pm, March 7, 2021

Gable Steveson is the heavyweight king

THIRD PERIOD: Steveson wins 12-4

Steveson starts down in the third and escapes to extend his lead to 7-3. Parris did manage to run down Steveson's riding time to 50 seconds, but with 90 seconds remaining, this is Steveson's match. The Minnesota big man picks up another takedown with less than a minute remaining, and he's on a hunt for bonus now. Steveson sends his riding time up just over a minute, but Parris escapes to make that major just a little harder. Steveson leads 9-4 with 38 seconds to go and 1:05 riding time. Parris goes in for a shot but can't finish. Takedown Steveson. Impressive short time action from the champ. That's a 12-4 major decision for Gable Steveson! 

SECOND PERIOD: Steveson leads 6-3

Parris chooses down to start the second and escapes. Steveson leads 4-3 with only 36 seconds of riding time. One minute remains in the second period. Shot Parris. Defended Steveson. Stalemate. Thirty seconds. Takedown Steveson. That is not how Parris wanted to end the period, and he'll trail 6-3 heading into the third. 

FIRST PERIOD: Steveson leads 4-2

Steveson is on a shot 45 seconds into the match, and he efforts looked good, but Parris holds tough. Steveson is relentless, and he adds two on the board with his second shot. Escape Parris, and we're back to neutral. Gable goes in again, and that's two more. He's trying to make a statement. Escape Paris. Steveson's lead after one isn't surprising, but Parris will need more offense in the second to keep himself in this one. 

11:07 pm, March 7, 2021

Amine takes the title at 197 pounds

THIRD PERIOD: Amine wins 7-3

Schultz escapes. Amine shoots. Credit to both of these guys for keeping this one exciting and full of action. Amine has 36 seconds of riding time, so that won't be a factor as Schultz trails 5-3 with one minute remaining. Stalemate. Schultz seem interested in wrestling on the edge and drawing a stall call on Amine, and he does. Amine responds with a shot, but Schultz defends. Twenty-four seconds left. Schultz continues to drive Amine towards the edge, perhaps looking for another stall call, but it's Amine with the takedown to seal the deal as the match wraps up. That's a 7-3 win and a Big Ten title for the Wolverine. 

SECOND PERIOD: Amine leads 5-2

Amine escapes, but it's Schultz pushing the pace. Amine fends off the Cornhuskers' attack and goes in for a shot of his own, but Schultz defends it well, as he initiates a shot of his own. Fifteen seconds left. Ten seconds. This has been a high-paced match, but, as the period ticks down, Amine still has the lone takedown.  

FIRST PERIOD: Amine leads 4-2
Amine goes in for the first shot, and he looks to leverage his body weight into a takedown. That's two for Amine! An escape for Schultz makes it 2-1, as the big guys continue to handfight. Amine is back with another shot, and that's two more for the Michigan Man. He now leads 4-1. Escape Schultz...and a shot for the Husker. The ref calls danger, and the two are back in the middle. Schultz is not backing down as he looks for another shot, but he'll end the period without a takedown as we head to the second. 

10:49 pm, March 7, 2021

Aaron Brooks is victorious again at 184

THIRD PERIOD: Brooks wins 10-5

Venz chooses down to start to the third, but Brooks goes to work on top. Brooks is hit for stalling, but he's still in a comfortable spot with 90 seconds remaining. Venz escapes. It's 7-4 with 2:51 of riding time for Brooks. Takedown Venz, but he's looking for bonus now. Escape Venz. Thirty seconds left. Stalemate. Ten seconds. That's two-for-two for Aaron Brooks! The Nittany Lion is a Big Ten champion again! 

SECOND PERIOD: Brooks leads 7-3
Brooks chooses down to the start the second, and Venz works to cut down on that riding time, but Brooks picks up the reversal with just over a minute left in the period. His riding time was just over a minute at the time of the reversal, but he added nearly 30 seconds on top before Venz secured the takedown. With the two athletes back on their feet, Brooks took control again and secured another takedown. This is turning into a one-sided match. 

FIRST PERIOD: Brooks lead 3-2
Taylor Venz! The Nebraska wrestler makes the first move, but Brooks fights back for a takedown of his own on the edge to make the score 3-2 with Brooks' first point coming off an escape from Venz' earlier takedown. Brooks starts his ride. The period ends with a tough rideout from Brooks who accumulated 1:45 on top. He'll lead 3-2 to start the second. 

10:33 pm, March 7, 2021

Michael Kemerer wins gold at 174 pounds

THIRD PERIOD: Michael Kemerer wins 7-2

Starocci escapes to stay in the match, but Kemerer looks for a cradle on the edge. Less than a minute remains as Kemerer holds on to his 7-2 lead. Starocci goes for the same shot, but, once again, Kemerer's defense is too much, and the ref calls a stalemate. Another shot from Starocci, another defensive move from Kemerer. Starocci fights until the final second, but this one is all Kemerer. He's a Big Ten champion! 

SECOND PERIOD: Kemerer leads 7-1

Kemerer chooses down to start the second period, and he works for a quick escape, but Starocci wasn't giving anything up easily. A shot from Kemerer puts the pressure on Starocci again, but when the Nittany Lion took a countershot, Kemerer's defense brought them both back to their feet. One minute remains, and riding time is almost non-existent. Starocci goes in for a shot, but Kemerer responds, creating a scramble that leans Kemerer's way. He had the potential for serious back points, and settles in for two.

FIRST PERIOD: Kemerer leads 2-0

Kemerer makes the first move against the freshman Nittany Lion, but the fact that Starocci held Kemerer scoreless in the first two minutes of the match shows the kind of strength he has. Starocci escapes and then goes in for a shot of his own, but Kemerer defends. This is a match of a veteran vs. a rookie, but both of these guys can clearly compete for a national title. 

10:21 pm, March 7, 2021

Alex Marinelli is a three-time champ

THIRD PERIOD: Marinelli wins 3-2

Escape Marinelli. He has the lead with 90 seconds remaining. Smith works to pick up the pace, but it's still Marinelli's lead with one minute left. Lots of handfighting between these two, but nothing yet. Thirty seconds remaining. Smith goes in for a shot, but Marinelli defends. Ten seconds. Short time. Nothing from Smith in the final seconds. It's Marinelli on top again! 

SECOND PERIOD: Tied 2-2

Ethan Smith chooses bottom to start the second and escapes to put the first point on the board. Marinelli though earns the first takedown with a tough double leg. Those points will be crucial in this match where neither wrestler is known for lighting up the scoreboard. Smith escapes and ties up the match 2-2. Marinelli has 34 seconds of riding time but not enough to make that a factor yet. Ten seconds left. Tied 2-2

FIRST PERIOD: Tied 0-0

A scoreless first period despite flurries of action from both men. 

10:06 pm, March 7, 2021

Ryan Deakin defends his title at 157

THIRD PERIOD: Deakin wins 6-0

Young chooses down to start the third, but he's in a tough spot, as Deakin puts the pressure on him on top. One minute remaining. Thirty seconds left. Deakin rides out Young for the entire period and wins 157 pounds for the second year in a row. 

SECOND PERIOD: Deakin leads 5-0

Deakin chooses bottom to start the period and picks up a quick escape before going on the attack again for two more points on another takedown. Again wrestling on the edge, Deakin pushes his riding time over a minute and continues to stay tough on top. Deakin has exerted his dominance this period and taken over the match as he builds a 5-0 lead with two minutes of riding time heading into the third. 

FIRST PERIOD: Deakin leads 2-0

Deakin takes the first shot, but defense from Young leads to a stalemate. Young has come at Deakin with aggression, pushing himself towards the top-ranked guy with force and moving the Wildcat around the mat unlike anyone else has done so far this year. Deakin, however, continues to put himself in scoring position. He puts up the first two points of the match on a gritty scramble. Deakin wrestles Young off the mat, keeping his foot in on the time to bring the riding time to just short of a minute. 

9:46 pm, March 7, 2021

Sammy Sasso takes 149 pounds

THIRD PERIOD: Sasso wins 5-2

Lovett chooses bottom to start the third period, but Sasso rides him to take away the riding time advantage. One minute left. Lovett nearly escapes, but Sasso tightens the hold. Riding time is less than ten seconds, and Sasso takes it all down with thirty seconds remaining. Lovett came out of the gates strong, but the third period was classic Sasso, a full two-minute rideout, as he secured his first Big Ten title. 

SECOND PERIOD: Sasso leads 5-2

Sasso starts the period on the bottom, and Ridge is looking to ride. Sasso attempts to convert a scramble into a reversal, but Lovett maintains control to push the riding time over a minute. One minute remaining. Sasso works to his feet, but Lovett commits to the ride. Thirty seconds remaining. A double leg for Sasso turns that ride into a reversal for two more points. He ends the period on top, but Lovett earned 1:30 of riding time as the men move into the third. 

FIRST PERIOD: Sasso leads 3-2

What a tournament it has been for Lovett so far, and he has his hands full with Sasso but looks to be wrestling relaxed early. Sasso looks for points on a shot about a minute into the period, but Lovett draws a stalemate. Lovett works to pull away from Sasso's attempts in the handfight and picks up the first takedown on a sweep. Sasso escapes, and the score sits at 2-1. Sasso grabs an ankle and works for two, but Lovett is holding tough and initiates a scamble before Sasso picks up the two at the end of the period.

9:35 pm, March 7, 2021

Eierman beats Lee at 141 pounds

THIRD PERIOD: Jaydin Eierman wins 6-5

Nick Lee chooses to go neutral to start the third and goes in for a shot with 90 seconds left in the match, and he finishes for two points. Eierman still has the advantage with the riding time, and Lee cuts him to give Eierman the 5-4 lead. But Lee's not done. Another takedown would win the match for him, and with 45 seconds to go, that's what Lee needs. Thirty seconds. A Lee shot nearly turns into an Eierman attack, but nothing happens. Time is ticking down. Ten seconds. Jaydin Eierman is a Big Ten Champion! 

SECOND PERIOD: Eierman leads 4-2

Eierman chooses down to start the second, and Lee goes to work to minimize the riding time. Eierman escapes before his riding time dips even before 90 seconds, and he's back to looking for shots. 

FIRST PERIOD: Eierman leads 3-2

Standing next to lee, Eierman looks so much bigger than the Nittany Lion, but it's Nick Lee with the first takedown. A second shot for Lee turns into two for Eierman and goes to work on top. He's wasting no time looking for a turn. He wants to end this match as fast as Spencer Lee, and he's fighting to put Lee in a position where Eierman can earn back points, but Lee forces a stalemate. Eierman rides the legs and pushes the riding time up over a minute, but the score remains 3-2 as Eierman ends the period on top. 

9:19 pm, March 7, 2021

Roman Bravo-Young wins at 133 pounds

Third period: Bravo-Young wins 5-2

Only one point in the third period for Bravo-Young, but that was all he needed. He earned the 5-2 win, and Bravo-Young is a Big Ten Champion. 

Second period: Bravo-Young leads 4-2

DeSanto escapes to start to second to tie the score, and the Hawkeye wrestled tough to keep the score even. However, he couldn't stop Bravo-Young completely. Bravo-Young notches another takedown and rides out the clock to hold the riding time up over a minute leading into the third.

FIRST PERIOD: Bravo-Young leads 2-1

DeSanto makes the first move but he doesn't finish, and Bravo-Young responds with a shot of his own to score the first two points of the match. DeSanto escapes for a point, but the men are back on their feet. 

8:48 pm, March 7, 2021

Spencer Lee is a two-time Big Ten champ

SECOND PERIOD: Lee wins 21-3

It's the same story. Four-point near fall. Riding time. Four more near point. Tech fall. Spencer Lee wins. 

FIRST PERIOD: Lee leads 11-3

Schroder took the first shot, sending Lee behind him and attempting to slow the pace of the two-time NCAA champion. The shot resulted in a takedown, the first time Lee has been behind to start a match all season. The Boilermaker leads 2-0. Lee immediately escapes, but Schroder isn’t afraid and takes another shot. Lee fends the second one off and capitalizes on a turn of his own to secure two. An escape for Schroder helps him avoid a dangerous situation, but Lee goes back to look for back points. Despite giving up the first takedown, Lee leads after the first period 11-3. 

Rewatch last year's Big Ten finals between these two competitors before the start of the 2021 Big Ten Championship Match: 

7:39 pm, February 21, 2021

2021 Big Ten wrestling championship schedule and how to watch

The entire Big Ten Tournament will be live from Penn State on the Big Ten Network.

DATE SESSION TIME
Sat., March 6 Session I (First Round, Quarterfinals)
Session II (Semifinals, Wrestlebacks)
10 a.m
7:30 p.m.
Sun., March 7 Session III (Consolation Semifinals, 7th-Place Matches)
Session IV (Finals)
12 p.m.
4 p.m.

For tournament brackets, click here

12:32 am, March 7, 2021

Road to the finals

Here's how each of the semifinalists punched their ticket to the final matchups and what we can expect from tomorrow's championship matches: 

285 pounds: Gable Steveson vs. Mason Parris 

The heavyweight finals matchup isn't surprising, but the manner in which Gable Steveson and Mason Parris earned their spots is a little unusual. Nebraska's Christian Lance forfeited to Steveson in the first semifinal, while Parris picked up an immediate first-period pin. These guys didn't make us wait too long to figure out who we'd see under the bright lights in the Bryce Jordan Center competing for a title. So, given that, what can we expect from another Parris and Steveson final? 

"We're going to go out there and compete as hard as we can and put on a show," Parris said after his win, speaking generally and expressing his genuine excitement about the rematch with the undefeated Gopher wrestler.

Watch the Big Ten finals matchup last year when these two met, and be ready for this level of intensity and more: 

197 pounds: Eric Schultz vs. Myles Amine. 

The combined score of the Eric Schultz vs. Cam Caffey and the Jacob Warner vs. Myles Amine matches was less than Taylor Venz put up solo in his match against Chris Weiler earlier at 184 pounds, but that doesn't mean the matches were without excitement. Schultz pulled out his win 2-1 with an escape and a stall call working in his favor while Myles Amine and Jacob Warner battled it out in sudden victory before Amine took the match 3-1. Amine, the Michigan Olympian turned the corner after the tied regulation score and initiated an attack immediately for the win. He'll have Schultz next, and, as Bo Nickal pointed out in the broadcast, Schultz it the only athlete to have taken down three-time NCAA champion Nickal in his senior year. Will he take down Amine? 

184 pounds: Aaron Brooks vs. Taylor Venz

Aaron Brooks. Holy Cow. The sophomore Nittany Lion never settled, not once. He was forceful in pushing for the major decision as time ticked down in the third, and his efforts paid off with a 10-2 major, no small feat.

Taylor Venz was also dominant, and the Nebraska veteran had no problem burying Chris Weiler of Wisconsin in the 184-pound semifinals, surging out to a lead from the start and building his point total with every passing minute. He finished his semifinals match with a 10-3 win and over three minutes of riding time, but it was his assertiveness that stood out. He wrestled like a Big Ten champion, and tomorrow he’ll have a chance to prove that he could be one.  Both Brooks and Venz out-rode their opponents and overwhelmed Poznanski and Weiler with force and strength. Watching these two finalists meet tomorrow night will be fun. 

174 pounds: Michael Kemerer vs. Carter Starocci

Penn State vs. Iowa rivalry matches are always so heated, and fans will be treated to another one as Michael Kemerer of Iowa will take on Cater Starocci of Penn State at 174 points. The two have such different stories of reaching this point with Starocci wrestling in his first Big Ten finals, and Kemerer being a sixth-year senior on a journey for his first NCAA title later this month. But, in addition to their age difference, they bring different styles to the mat which should create the kind of tension that builds big matches. Kemerer wrestled his semifinals match against Logan Massa with defensive expertise while Starocci relied on his relied on his attack and scrambling for the win. Mikey Labriola, the opponent that Starocci beat in sudden victory, nearly had back points and a takedown at numerous points late in the match, but Starocci held on like a veteran. Now, he'll face a real veteran with team points and personal pride on the line, creating a situation that will no doubt bring out the best of both of them. 

165 pounds: Alex Marinelli vs. Ethan Smith 

The score in the match between Alex Marinelli and Cam Amine suggests that Marinelli won because of an escape and riding time, but the reality is that he won because of a lot more than a takedown. The Bull never let up, never showed fear, never backed down. He battled Amine for two scoreless periods but wrestled as relaxed as ever. Marinelli competed like he was in the lead the entire time. That's what veterans look like on the mat. 

Ethan Smith and Peyton Robb also put on a show, and their action cannot be ignored. Tied 3-3 at the end of regulation, Robb initiated a scramble, but it was Smith that emerged on top. The Buckeye is heading to the finals, but he'll have to face The Bull next. 

157 pounds: Ryan Deakin vs. Kaleb Young

The Kendall Coleman vs. Ryan Deakin and Kaleb Young vs. Brayton Lee matches went exactly like matches we had seen before between these four athletes. Lee and Young pushed themselves into sudden victory for the second dual in a row this season, while Deakin came out and dominated Coleman 14-1, scoring bonus and fighting all the way through the third period. His aggressive and powerful style is going to be dangerous for all of the 157 pounders in the national tournament, and he looks primed and ready to defend the Big Ten title he earned last year. 

For Young, the winner of the second bout, the match took everything he had. Young wrestled with the kind of heart that we've seen from the Hawkeyes all season, and he finally found his way to the finals after picking up 23 seconds of riding time in the second sudden victory 2-1. After going 0-2 last year in the tournament, Kaleb Young is a Big Ten finalist. 

149 pounds: Sammy Sasso vs. Michael Blockus

Sammy Sasso is back. Back to the finals that is. The Ohio State sophomore earned a hard-fought 5-0 victory by jumping out a 2-0 lead on a short time takedown in the first and then never letting up. He fended off each of Kanen Storr's shots and solidifying the win with a final third period takedown and 5-0 score. He's no doubt one of the top guys in the country at the weight, but he's still looking for his first conference title. 

Facing Sasso will be an unexpected opponent, as No. 7 Michael Blockhus has continued to defy expectations and launch himself into the finals. He picked up this most recent win with a tough overtime takedown against Ridge Lovett for a 2-1 final score. Talk about a tournament for Blockhus. Can he keep it going? 

141 pounds: Jaydin Eierman vs. Nick Lee

Iowa's Jaydin Eierman was all scramble from start to finish. He earned a takedown in short time at the end of the first period and spent most of the second period tangled like a pretzel with Nebraska's Chad Red, looking for back points. He rode Red for the period and cranked up the score in the third period to secure a 7-1 win and a bid to the finals. 

He'll face Nick Lee next, the king of the scramble. Lee battled Sebastian Rivera for over seven minutes in his semifinals, fending off each attack from the Scarlet Knight and never losing his poise. Rivera came out of the gates firing on all cylinders and pushed Lee for the first two points of the match, but Lee responded with an escape and a takedown of his own. The two exchanged points and control, but when it counted, as the time ticked down, Lee pushed forward, earning the 7-5 win. He's Penn State's second finalist, and he'll see Iowa's third finalist. 

133 pounds: Roman Bravo-Young vs. Austin DeSanto

Folks, could there be a more fun rivalry at 133 pounds than Austin DeSanto and Roman Bravo-Young? These two powerhouse stars meet again after semifinal battles that pushed both athletes out of their comfort zones and forced them to stay tough. 

Roman Bravo-Young earned his spot to the finals in classic Penn State style. He didn’t hold back against Chris Cannon, wrestling free and picking up two takedowns in the first period. Cannon scored all of his points on escapes, but it wasn’t enough, as Bravo-Young wrestled his way into the finals with a 5-3 win. He had to work for this one, but none of that matters now. He's a Big Ten finalist again. 

DeSanto, on the other hand, wrestled from behind, as his opponent Lucas Byrd scored the first takedown and forced DeSanto to wrestle his match. Both athletes hit a scramble at the end of the period, but the score stayed steady, and Byrd had the advantage heading into the second. DeSanto's winning moment came in a second period short time takedown and a third period escape, and both of those situations gave him the points to be able to absorb another Byrd scoring frenzy and hold on for the win. DeSanto is in contention for his first conference title, but things only get harder from here, and that semifinals match was plenty challenging. 

125 pounds: No. 1 Spencer Lee vs. Devin Schroder

Spencer Lee. That’s all we can say. The Iowa senior pinned his semifinal opponent Rayvon Foley in 23 seconds for his fifth fall of the season, and he’s back in the finals. That was quick. 

The Devin Schroder vs. Malik Heinselman match went slightly differently, though Schroder still managed to solidify himself as a the better wrestler. He beat Heinselman 1-0 in the dual, but in this semifinal, he found a way to put more points on the board and show the Big Ten that he's the guy worthy of being opposite Lee in the finals. After an even first period, Schroder took control in the second period with a takedown and near points to build his momentum heading into the third. He pace quickened, he's positions improved and he was the aggressor for the entirely of the third and final period. Welcome back to the finals, Devin.

Schroder wrestled Lee in last year's tournament, and lost by major 16-2. Lee has ended all of his matches early, so even if Schroder lost in the same way, he’d be the first athlete to take Lee a full seven minutes. 

11:09 pm, March 6, 2021

Meet the semifinalists

Here are the bios and journeys of the 40 wrestlers competing in the 2021 Big Ten Wrestling semifinals: 

125 pounds

No. 1 Spencer Lee vs. No. 5 Ravyon Foley 

Iowa’s lightweight star Spencer Lee cruised into the semifinals in his tradition dominant fashion, teching Michigan’s Dylan Ragusin and setting up a semifinal with Michigan State’s Rayvon Foley. Lee is now 5-0 on the year with 100% bonus, averaging over 5 points a dual. Foley, for his part, secured a spot in the semis with a first-round win over Indiana’s Jacob Moran 11-1 and a second-round win against Dylan Shawver of Rutgers. Foley has hit 100% bonus so far in this tournament, but he’ll now face the biggest bonus machine in the country. 

No. 3 Malik Heinselman vs. No. 7 Devin Schroder

The Malik Heinselman revenge tour continues as the Buckeye junior secured a spot in the 2021 semifinals with two solid wins over Zach Spence of Maryland and Eric Barnett of Wisconsin. Heinselman pinned Spencer and battled for his 3-2 victory against the Badger, and he’ll now have last year’s Big Ten finalist in Schroder to compete against for a spot in the finals. Schroder earned his way into this match by beating Justin Cardani of Illinois 2-0 with Cardani once again showing that he wrestles top guys tough. Schroder’s biggest win came against No. 2 Liam Cronin in overtime, and if he beats Heinselman, he’ll return for his second final in as many years.

133 pounds

No. 1 Roman Bravo-Young vs. No. 4 Chris Cannon

Roman Bravo-Young came so close to winning his first Big Ten tournament last year, advancing to the finals with a win over Austin DeSanto of Iowa before dropping 7-2 in a lopsided match against eventual champ Sebastian Rivera. With Rivera up a weight, Bravo-Young has the chance to make a statement and take home a title, but he has to get past Chris Cannon first. Cannon has wrestled to see so far this tournament, earning a pin over Maryland’s Jackson Cockrell and a major against Kyle Luigs of Indiana. He hasn’t had any ranked opponents yet, and Bravo-Young is not someone that is always fun to wrestle. The Penn State junior has a funky style and is known for putting up points. In the quarters, Bravo-Young had a solid victory against Jacob Rundell of Purdue 9-3, but Bravo-Young always has tricks up his sleeve on the mat and could put on a show in his home gym tonight. 

No. 3 Lucas Byrd vs. No. 2 Austin DeSanto

This one is juicy. Austin DeSanto, Iowa’s 133-pounder, is known for his pace, but he had some trouble against Tucker Sjomeling of Nebraska in the quarterfinals before managing to pull out the 4-0 lead. If Illinois’ Lucas Byrd can rise to the occasion, he too could slow DeSanto, and a slow DeSanto is far less lethal. Byrd wrestled his way into the semis with a pin over Shane Metzler of Rutgers in his first Big Ten tournament appearance and a 12-5 dominant decision over Boo Dryden of Minnesota. The real test comes now.  

141 pounds

No. 1 Jaydin Eierman vs. No. 4 Chad Red

The 141 pound bracket went chalk, setting up two fascinating battles for a chance in the 2021 Finals, but Iowa’s Eierman has potentially the best path. He’ll take on Chad Red of Nebraska, a wrestler who is always Mr. March and has already majored both of his opponents. Eierman made an equally strong statement in his only match of the tournament so far as he pinned Purdue’s Parker Filius in the second period. Now these two funky, fast and athletic individuals will have the chance to face each other with a lot on the line, and regardless of what happens, this is a match you won’t want to miss. 

No. 2 Nick Lee vs. No. 3 Sebastian Rivera

This match is a clash of styles and personalties in every way, and these are two athletes who have an equally good chance to take home an individual title in March. Penn State’s Nick Lee has the higher seed, and he teched Dylan D’Emilio in his first match of the tournament, but he’ll have a strong and aggressive opponent in Sebastian Rivera who picked up a pin and a decision in his two bouts. If Rivera wins this match, he’ll keep his goal of three Big Ten titles at three different weights alive, and even if he falls, his credibility and respect will still be high. This match is just the beginning of the kind of fireworks that fans can expect at this weight both at the conference and national tournaments. 

149 pounds

No. 1 Sammy Sasso vs. No. 5 Kanen Storr

Chaos ensued through 149 pounds, but Sammy Sasso stayed steady, did what he needed to do, and booked himself another trip to the Big Ten semifinals. The Buckeye redshirt sophomore picked up a 9-1 major over Peyton Omania 9-1 for the chance to wrestle No. 5 Kanen Storr. Michigan’s Storr had a tougher battle, needing to beat Northwestern’s Yahya Thomas and Wisconsin’s Drew Scharenbrock, both of which he did with persistent and grit. The Thomas win in particular required everything Storr had, but he ultimately pushed through a found a way to win in double overtime for the 3-2 victory. Sasso missed out a on Big Ten title last year after dropping to Iowa’s Pat Lugo in the finals, and he’s looking for a different result this year, but we’ll see what kind of challenge Storr can put up. 

No. 6 Michael Blockhus vs. No. 7 Ridge Lovett

Both Michael Blocks and Ridge Lovett battled the odds to earn their spot in the semifinals, with Blockhus earning an upset win against Griffin Parriott to advance as well as beating Penn State’s Beau Bartlett in the first round. Lovett topped Max Murin of Iowa in this second round to limit the number of Hawkeye champs and set himself up for an improved seed at the NCAA tournament. This one will be a battle of underdogs, and the winner will have Storr or Sasso for what will be a compelling final. 

157 pounds

No. 1 Ryan Deakin vs. No. 4 Kendall Coleman

Ryan Deakin left no doubts in his 8-0 major of Elijah Cleary in the second round, and he’ll now have a rematch of last year’s finals in his semifinals match against Purdue’s Kendall Coleman. The Boilermaker wrestled into the semifinals with a major over Luke Baughman and a decision against Brady Berge, but, like many of the semifinals, he’ll face a different challenge with Deakin. Ryan Deakin is a wrestler who was hit particularly hard by the cancellation of last year’s tournament, just given the fact that he was a top seed, a Hodge finalist and in a good position to chase his first national title. He’ll have another chance this year, but his efforts to defend his conference title, at least, depend on winning this match. 

No. 2 Kaleb Young vs. No. 3 Brayton Lee

This is a match we’ve seen before, but it’s one we can’t get enough of. Iowa’s Kaleb Young has already improved on his 2020 Big Ten tournament performance by earning himself a spot in the semifinals, and now he’ll have a beatable athlete that pushed him in the regular season. The Hawks met the Gophers early in the regular season before Iowa shut down operations for COVID over the last few weeks, and Young earned the win against Minnesota’s Brayton Lee, but he needed extra time to do it. Has Brayton made the necessary adjustments to flip that outcome? The Gopher wrestled looked good in his 8-3 decision over Will Lewan of Michigan, and Young looked solid in his 4-0 win over Chas Saldate of Michigan State, but neither blew out their opponent. Expect this one to be low-scoring and tight as these two guys do battle again.

165 pounds

No. 1 Alex Marinelli vs. No. 4 Cam Amine

The Bull runs 165 pounds, and he’s in the semifinals now chasing a third consecutive conference title. Alex Marinelli topped Gerrit Nijenhuis in a convincing 8-2 decision in the quarterfinals, and he’ll have Cameron Amine next, a young wrestler who ripped through the first round with an 11-2 major over Brett Donner and picked up a solid second round 5-2 win against Andrew Sparks. Amine is coming into his own as Michigan’s Man at this weight, and he’ll be a threat to score at the NCAA tournament. Wrestling Marnelli could be exactly the experience he needs to know what it feels like to wrestle someone who will be competing for a title. An Amine win would be a major upset, but he does have a winning family tradition in the Maize and Blue. 

No. 3 Ethan Smith vs. No. 7 Peyton Robb

The story of this matchup is the story of Peyton Robb, a never-say-die Husker who ignored his seed, beat No. 10 Nick South and then topped No. 2 Danny Braunagel of Illinois 9-5. As a reward for his efforts, Robb will now meet Smith, a reliable winner for the Buckeyes who advanced to his spot in the semis with wins over Josh Otto and Jonathan Spadafora. Smith’s path wasn’t littered with too many challenges, and he handled both of his opponents confidently, but Robb should be a fun opponent for him to wrestle and an even more fun opponent for the fans to watch compete. NCAA seeding implications are on the line here, so advancing to the finals could be bigger than just a different place in the Big Ten Tournament. 

174 pounds

No. 1 Michael Kemerer vs. No. 4 Logan Massa

Michael Kemerer looks as good as ever in his quest for a 2021 Big Ten Title, and the senior Hawkeye leader wasted no time punching his ticket to the semifinals. Kemerer took a page from teammate Spencer Lee’s book and pinned No. 8 Jared Krattiger of Wisconsin in the first period. He’ll now faced a seasoned Logan Massa who earned his way to the semifinals with a major against Troy Fisher and a solid decision against Indiana star D.J. Washington. This will be the meeting of two men who know what the big stage looks like and aren't afraid to leave it all on the mat. 

No. 3 Carter Starocci vs. No. 2 Mikey Labriola

Penn State’s Carter Starocci took a loss in his first dual as a Nittany Lion, but he’s been a different wrester since. Starocci lived up to the hype that has followed him all season when he pinned Maryland’s Phillip Spadafora in the first of the tournament and then beat Ohio State’s Kaleb Romero without giving up a point. His next opponent, Mikey Labriola, was solid as well, topping Jackson Turley 11-9 in the second round. A win here for Starocci would capitulate him into the finals and make serious waves, but Labriola is never someone to underestimate. 

1:50 pm, March 6, 2021

First-round upsets

125 pounds: Dylan Ragusin took a nice win over Michael D'Augustino of Northwestern to earn his chance to face Spencer Lee in the second round. Lee ultimately teched Ragusin, but the Michigan Man's win over D'Augustino helped him enter the consolations one round further than he would have without the first-round victory

Dylan Shawver of Rutgers picks up a key victory for the Scarlet Knights with a win over Pat McKee of Minnesota. His win put him in the quarterfinals where he fell to Rayvon Foley of Michgan State by tech fall. 

133 pounds: Michigan's Jack Medley, who is wrestling in place of Big Ten champion Stevan Micic, dropped his first round bout to Kyle Luigs of Indiana in a 5-0 decision. Medley has wrestled tough in a weight class one above his ideal 125-pound slot, but he'll now drop down to the consolation bracket while Luigs will have Chris Cannon of Northwestern in the next round.

141 pounds: The most common upset of the tournament has been, unsurprisingly, No. 8s over No. 9s, and Parker Filius of Purdue helped put himself on this list with a solid 4-3 win over Michigan's Drew Mattin. Filius was pinned in the second round by Iowa's Jaydin Eierman, however, which sent him back to the consolation bracket. 

The bigger upset at the weight though came from Cayden Rooks who topped Marcos Polanco 5-4. The Hooisers came to compete!

149 pounds: Michigan State's Peyton Omania became the latest No. 9 seed to top a No. 8 seed with his 9-6 decision over Rutgers' Michael Van Brill. Advancing puts these No. 9 seeds in a tough spot though, and Omania was no exception. He dropped to top-seeded Sammy Sasso in his quarterfinal bout. 

157 pounds: The Ohio State Buckeyes put up an impressive first round, and 157-pounder Elijah Cleary was part of that success. The No. 9-ranked Buckeye took a 9-6 decision over No. 8 Garrett Model but took a major decision 8-0 shutout loss to Ryan Deakin in the next round. It's been a tough day for the lower seeds in the quarters. 

165 pounds: Maryland's Jonathan Spadafora notches a huge win for the Terps over No. 6 Joe Lee of Penn State to stay alive in the championship bracket. Spadafora was the only Terp to win in the first round, and he'll have Ethan Smith of Ohio State next. 

No. 10 Gerrit Nijenhuis gets things done for the Boilermakers with his tough 3-2 win over Jake Tucker of Michigan State. The win marked his first conference tournament victory and advanced him in the championship where he then took a loss to No. 1 seed Alex Marinelli. 

197 pounds: Gavin Hoffman steps up big for the Buckeyes with his 3-1 sudden victory win over Matt Wroblewski. He went on to take a 2-0 loss to Schultz in the quarterfinals, but if Hoffman continues to wrestle like he has been, he could be a landmine moving forward in this tournament. Watch out! 

285 pounds: When Penn State added Greg Kerkvliet, fans were on high alert. Could the freshman compete for a title? The hope is still possible, but the title would have to come in the NCAA Tournament, if he qualifies, as Kerkvliet dropped 11-3 of Jack Heyob of Northwestern in the first round of the Big Ten. 

7:57 pm, February 21, 2021

These are the returning Big Ten champions in 2021

Each weight will be stacked with athletes from across the conference who could compete for Big Ten titles, but these are the guys who have run through the conference brackets successfully in the past and will look to be repeat champs.

125 Pounds: Spencer Lee, Iowa

After winning his first Big Ten title in 2020, Spencer Lee is back and better than ever. The two-time NCAA champion has dominated all of his opponents this year in the first period, recording a pin against each competitor in less than three minutes. The Iowa senior continues to be a leader for his team and will play a key role in the Hawkeyes' quest to defend their conference championship from 2020. Lee will undoubtedly roll into this tournament as the favorite, and the question will just be whether or not he's challenged at all in his fourth appearance at the Big Ten tournament. 

141 pounds: Sebastian Rivera, Rutgers

Sebastian Rivera is Mr. Big Ten Tournament. The Rutgers graduate student won his first conference title in 2019 after beating none other than Spencer Lee in the 125-pound finals. He went on to take third in the NCAA tournament that year before bumping up to 133 pounds the following year. In 2020, Rivera faced a stacked 133-pound bracket that included NCAA champion Seth Gross and All-Americans Roman Bravo-Young and Austin DeSanto, but Rivera once again prevailed. He beat Gross in the semifinals before taking down Bravo-Young in the finals to claim his second crown at a second weight. This year, up at 141 pounds, Rivera will look to win again, but this time he'll have another loaded bracket that includes All-Americans Jaydin Eierman and Nick Lee. Can he win three titles at three different weights? 

157 pounds: Ryan Deakin, Northwestern

Northwestern's Ryan Deakin's Big Ten tournament win against Purdue's Kendall Coleman capped off his dominant junior season, and while Deakin was expecting to build on that momentum at the NCAA tournament before the cancellation, he's picked up this year right where he left off. He's now 3-0 with his most impressive victory being his recent major decision against No. 6 Brayton Lee. Though Deakin has not been tested as much in 2021 as he was in 2020, he'll be a favorite to challenge for a repeat title. His biggest threat will be Iowa's Kaleb Young, who has been having a strong, undefeated season, though Young needed extra time to take down Lee, and Deakin separated himself from the common opponent almost immediately. The Big Ten tournament will be a chance for Deakin to show off his skills and demonstrate whether or not he's as superior in his weight class as he's expected to be. 

165 pounds: Alex Marinelli, Iowa

Like Sebastian Rivera, Alex Marinelli has been a king of the Big Ten tournament over the last several seasons. In both 2019 and 2020, Marinelli beat Penn State's Vincenzo Joseph in the championship match, earning the top seed for the NCAA tournament. This year, with Joseph graduated, Marinelli will be an even bigger favorite and will be expected to defend his crown once again. Marinelli has wrestled just two matches so far this year, winning both in convincing decision fashion 8-4 and 7-3. Without four matches on his resume, Marinelli will need to wrestle all of his matches at the tournament or win the Big Ten tournament to earn his spot in the NCAA tournament, but he's accomplished that goal twice in the last two years. 

184 pounds: Aaron Brooks, Penn State

Despite only being a sophomore, Aaron Brooks has been an anchor in the 2021 Penn State lineup, posting an undefeated 5-0 record with 80% bonus. He's someone that head coach Cael Sanderson and Co. have been to count on in duals and tournaments to show up and wrestle with the Penn State style of dominance in every match. The Nittany Lion NWCA All-American finished his freshman year last year with just one loss, which he avenged at the Big Ten tournament on his way to his first conference title. He's strong, he's skilled and he's ready to make same noise at this same tournament again. Brooks will be the No. 1 seed at the weight, while the athletes behind him have swapped wins all season. The closest match Brooks has had was a 10-5 win over Jaden Bullock, but even in that match when Bullock scrambled and attempted to challenge the Nittany Lion, Brooks stayed in control. Expect Brooks to make some noise in his weight and put up big points in his chase for a second title this year. 

285 pounds: Gable Steveson, Minnesota

Gable Steveson has solidified himself as the most dangerous heavyweight in the country so far this season, but there's one guy who Steveson hasn't seen yet in 2021 who might have something to say about that title. Michigan's Mason Parris has had an outstanding season of his own, posting a 6-0 record with 100% bonus rate, just three wins shy of matching Steveson's 9-0 record with 100% bonus. Both men have been absolutely impressive, but Steveson has the edge going into the Big Ten tournament given the 1-0 record that he holds against Parris after his win in last year's tournament. Steveson has hinted that this will be his last year of college wrestling, and if that's the case, he'll absolutely want to go out with fireworks by defending his Big Ten title and dominating his way through the heavyweight bracket at the 2021 NCAA wrestling tournament. 

8:41 pm, February 21, 2021

Individual Big Ten Tournament Records

Most Consecutive Falls: 7 - Dave Porter, Michigan (1966-67-68)

Fastest Fall (in seconds) - 16 Robert Kokesh, Nebraska over Taylor Massa, Michigan 2015 (174 quarterfinals)

Fastest Fall (in seconds) - Championship Match: 43 - Mike Potts, Michigan State over Al Jenson, Minnesota 1984 (Heavyweight)

A complete list of Big Ten championship records can be found in a .PDF here.

7:52 pm, February 21, 2021

2021 Big Ten wrestling standings

TEAM RECORD WIN %
Penn State 6-0-0 100%
Iowa 5-0-0 100%
Nebraska 7-1-0 87.5%
Michigan 5-1-0 83.33%
Minnesota 7-2-0 77.8%
Illinois 5-3-0 62.5%
Ohio State 5-4-0 55.6%
Purdue  4-5-0 44.4%
Michigan State 2-5-0 28.6%
Indiana 2-6-0 25.0%
Northwestern 2-6-0 25.0%
Wisconsin 1-6-0 14.3%
Rutgers 0-4-0 0%
Maryland 0-8-0 0%
8:50 pm, February 21, 2021

These are the big moments from the 2021 dual season

Opening weekend: Defending Big Ten champions Sebastian Rivera and Gable Steveson kicked off their 2021 season with dominating victories. Read more about those performances and more here.

First dual for the Hawks: Iowa opens its season with a statement win over Nebraska while Illinois tops Ohio State in a conference upset. Relive the best moments of the week here

Shakeups in Week 3 of Big Ten action: Ohio State beats Rutgers after heroics at heavyweight, and Eric Barnett shakes up the 125-pound rankings with a pin over Devin Schroder. Here are complete recaps of the duals from the week.

Return of Penn State: Iowa's domination continues, and Penn State makes its return to the mat. Here's what you missed from this week of college wrestling

Spencer Lee picks up his fourth pin: Iowa, Penn State, Minnesota and Nebraska notch victories as the top teams in the Big Ten separate themselves. More individual results and dual highlights can be found here. 

With Iowa on hold, Penn State makes a statement: Could Penn State challenge Iowa? The Hawks have a dominant squad, but the Nittany Lions looked to be in championship form against Ohio State and Michigan. Read more about the defending NCAA champions and their 2021 title quest here

7:00 pm, February 21, 2021

Big Ten wrestling championship history

 

Iowa Hawkeyes Dan Gable Dan Gable coaches his Iowa Hawkeyes to a Big Ten conference title

Year Team
1913 Illinois
1914 Indiana
1915 Indiana
1916 Indiana
1917 Illinois
1918 N/A
1919 N/A
1920 Illinois
1921 Indiana
1922 Illinois
1923 Ohio State
1924 Illinois
1925 Illinois
1926 Illinois
1927 Illinois
1928 Illinois
1929 Michigan
1930 Illinois
1931 Indiana
1932 Illinois
1933 Indiana
1934 Indiana
1935 Illinois
1936 Indiana
1937 Illinois
1938 Michigan
1939 Indiana
1940 Indiana
1941 Minnesota
1942 Purdue
1943 Indiana
1944 Michigan
1945 Purdue
1946 Illinois
1947 Illinois
1948 Purdue
1949 Purdue
1950 Purdue
1951 Ohio State
1952 Illinois
1953 Michigan
1954 Purdue
1955 Michigan
1956 Michigan
1957 Minnesota
1958 Iowa
1959 Minnesota
1960 Michigan
1961 Michigan State
1962 Iowa
1963 Michigan
1964 Michigan
1965 Michigan
1966 Michigan State
1967 Michigan State
1968 Michigan State
1969 Michigan State
1970 Michigan State
1971 Michigan State
1972 Michigan State
1973 Michigan
1974 Iowa
1975 Iowa
1976 Iowa
1977 Iowa
1978 Iowa
1979 Iowa
1980 Iowa
1981 Iowa
1982 Iowa
1983 Iowa
1984 Iowa
1985 Iowa
1986 Iowa
1987 Iowa
1988 Iowa
1989 Iowa
1990 Iowa
1991 Iowa
1992 Iowa
1993 Iowa
1994 Iowa
1995 Iowa
1996 Iowa
1997 Iowa
1998 Iowa
1999 Minnesota
2000 Iowa
2001 Minnesota
2002 Minnesota
2003 Minnesota
2004 Ioaw
2005 Illinois
2006 Minnesota
2007 Minnesota
2008 Iowa
2009 Iowa
2010 Iowa
2011 Penn State
2012 Penn State
2013 Penn State
2014 Penn State
2015 Iowa
2016 Penn State
2017 Ohio State
2018 Ohio State
2019 Penn State
2020 Iowa