Iowa wins 2021 NCAA wrestling tournament
It’s been a decade in the making for head coach Tom Brands and his team, but the Iowa Hawkeyes are officially 2021 NCAA wrestling champions. Led by national champ Spencer Lee, the Hawks put seven athletes on the podium and earned a total of 129 team points to finally lift the team trophy as the best wrestling squad in the lineup. Jaydin Eierman and Michael Kemerer both took second while, 133-pounder Austin DeSanto and 285-pounder Tony Cassioppi finished third, 197-pounder Jacob Warner took fourth and 157-pounder Kaleb Young finished seventh.
"We just know that we suffer together, we love together, we fight together, and no matter what, were going to get through it," Lee said after winning his title and recognizing his team title. "All you have to do is believe in those around you...and you can do anything."
FINAL BRACKETS: The complete 2021 NCAA wrestling brackets
The Hawkeyes came into the 2021 tournament as the unanimous No.1 team, a position they also held in 2020 before the cancellation of last year’s tournament. The team team has been dominant for the last 24 months, but, in this season in particular, Iowa swept its opponents this year 5-0, won a share of the Big Ten regular season title and topped the conference at the Big Ten Tournament. The NCAA crown was the only thing missing from this golden season for the Hawks.
Lee, the leader and steady champion of this team, served as the perfect finish for the Hawks at the end of a championship year as he took care of his opponent at 125, the final weight class of the night.
Lee's win capped off an impressive season of nearly 100% bonus-point wins and puts him in contention to win another Hodge Trophy. Despite a torn ACL, Lee will aim to compete in the 2021 Olympic Trials and look forward to representing the national champion Hawks again in the future.
SPENCER LEE'S GOLDEN YEAR: Relive all of the matches from the 125-pounder in 2021
Spencer Lee owns 125 pounds
THIRD PERIOD: Spencer Lee wins 7-0
Courtney choses neutral to start the period and picks up two. It's 6-0 with 71 seconds to go. Lee works for the ride, searching for tilts. Thirty seconds. Lee with the win but no bonus. That's a 7-0 decision for the Hawkeye!
SECOND PERIOD: Lee leads 4-0
Spencer Lee chooses down to start the second period. He escapes for the first point, and he's back on the attack. The fact that Courtney has held Lee to just one at this point is impressive, but Courtney is hit with a stall warning. One minute to go in the period. Lee continues to feel out the match, testing out his abilities against Courtney. There's no fear in his eyes as he picks up a takedown with 23 seconds to go in the period. False start on Lee and Courtney, but that's Courtney's third caution, so he gives up a point. Lee tilts Courtney for one back point and leads 4-0.
FIRST PERIOD: Scoreless
There's a lot on the line for Lee here. No points in the first period, and Lee looks cautious, but his strength is still evident. Scoreless.
Spencer Lee's journey to the finals
Lee made quick work of his first-round opponent, Patrick McCormick of Virginia, earning the tech fall in just over 90 seconds. His second opponent, Cardinale, was the first wrestler to take him into the third period and the entire seven minutes, but Lee still earned the major. You can track his entire season here as he chases a 100% bonus record, his third national title and his second Hodge Trophy.
- Round One: WIN over Patrick McCormick (Virginia) TECH FALL 16-1 1:33
- Round Two: WIN over Killian Cardinale (West Virginia) MAJOR 15-5
- Round Three: WIN over Devon Schroder (Purdue) 10-2 MAJOR
- Round Four: WIN over Drew Hildebrandt (Central Michigan) 12-0 MAJOR
- Round Five: WIN over Brandon Courtney (Arizona State) 7-0 DECISION
Gable Steveson is a heavyweight champ
THIRD PERIOD: Gable Steveson wins 8-4
Escape for Parris, takedown for Steveson. Escape for Parris. Parris is nailed with a stall warning. It's 6-3 with les than a minute to go. Shot by Paris, but nothing. Takedown Steveson. The Gopher knows he has this one, and he'll finish his tremendous season as a national champion.
SECOND PERIOD: Steveson leads 3-1
Steveson with the quick escape to bring the score to 3-1. Parris slows down the pace, and he'll head into the third in a good spot, trailing by two. Riding time is not a factor.
FIRST PERIOD: Steveson leads 2-1
We've been looking forward to this one for two weeks, since the Big Ten Tournament, but Gable Steveson is convinced that this isn't a rivalry. And he proved that early with a quick two-point takedown in the first minute. An escape for Parris makes it 2-1, in Steveson's favor. But the Gopher heavyweight isn't done, and works for one more takedown before the end of the period, but it's call out of bounds. He'll end the period with the 2-1 lead.
Gable Steveson has made it pretty clear that he intended to dominate. Steveson isn’t just looking to win, but he’s looking to win faster and more definitively than ever before, something he accomplished easily in the first and second rounds of the NCAA tournament.
- Round One: WIN over Max Lyon (Purdue) FALL 1:27
- Round Two: WIN over Wyatt Hendrickson (Air Force) 17-2 TECH
- Round Three: WIN over Greg Kerkvliet (Penn State) 9-4
- Round four: WIN over Tony Cassioppi (Iowa) 16-6
HWT - P3 | Hendrickson chooses neutral. Proves to be a bad choice as Gable runs through him for two. 13-1.— Minnesota Wrestling (@GopherWrestling) March 19, 2021
Big man tilt for two near fall and it's 15-1.
30 seconds left, and Gable just cuts him and gets his quick two to walk out of here with a 17-2 tech fall
Ferrari tops the podium at 197
THIRD PERIOD: AJ Ferrari wins 4-2.
Ferrari chooses down, and Bonaccorsi gives him the escape. Ferrari leads 3-2. Less than a minute. Ferrari takes a shot, but he doesn't finish. Thirty seconds. Blood time. Let's go!
Ten seconds. Lots of action in the final seconds, but this one is Ferrari's! The Cowboy is a CHAMP.
SECOND PERIOD: Tied 2-2
Bonaccorsi starts down to begin the second, but Ferrari uses the opportunity to drive up riding time. One minute left in the second period. His effort to continue to ride, however, earn him a stalling call after he couldn't make additional moves. Despite the stall call, Ferrari's period has been impressive as he has stayed on top of Bonaccorsi for nearly the entire period. Bonaccorsi finally picks up his escape with less than ten seconds in the period.
FIRST PERIOD: Ferrari leads 2-1
Ferrari with the first two points of the match, and the freshman Cowboy is on the board in the first period, a rare feat in this final session. He's worked to ride Bonaccorsi, not giving up the escape easy. He earns 1:07 of riding time before letting Bonaccorsi go to bring the score to 2-1 to end the period.
Ferrari's path to the finals:
Michigan's top-ranked Myles Amine had already qualified for the Olympics when he took the mat in the NCAA semifinals, but Oklahoma State's AJ Ferrari didn't care. The flashy rookie came out of the gates firing and picked up an early takedown, the lone takedown of the match. Amine escaped, but Ferrari wasn't done. He stayed steady and ended up riding out the Michigan Man for the entire third period, sending a message with his 5-1 win as a result of riding time.
So what was Ferrari's path to the finals? A tech fall over Colin McCracken of Kent State, a decision against Tanner Sloan of South Dakota State, a decision against Jacob Warner of Iowa and then the 5-1 win over Amine. He's been workmanlike, but he's nearly accomplished what he came here to do. Stopping Amine was a big deal, and Ferrari's final test will be Nino Bonaccorsi of Pittsburgh.
“We’ve trained our butts off. It’s been a long year…I’ve been grinding all year, and this is where it is going to pay off,” Ferrari said. “With God on my side, no one can beat me.”
The Cowboy will be back in action at 6 p.m. as he chases his first title on the big stage under the bright lights of the Enterprise Center. It's all on the line.
Aaron Brooks finishes on top at 184
THIRD PERIOD: Aaron Brooks wins 3-2
Hidlay goes down to start at the beginning of the third. Escape Hidlay, and the match is tied. Brooks picked up a point from a stall call, so he leads 3-2 with 30 seconds left, and he goes in for a shot that Brooks fends. Hidlay pulls Brooks back in to the center and works to take him down. State thinks it was a takedown. Penn State does not. We'll go to the refs. No takedown. Penn State has another champ. What an effort from Hidlay at the end, but this one belongs to Brooks.
SECOND PERIOD: Brooks leads 2-1
Aaron Brooks chooses down to start the second. Brooks gets out and scores a reversal, but he had Hidlay in danger. Hidlay escapes, but Penn State challenges, wanting near fall. The call on the mat stands, so Brooks leads 2-1 with one minute left in the second. This is the kind of period Brooks wanted, but Hidlay is wrestling the top seed tough. The N.C. State sophomore looks like a seasoned veteran on the mat, as does the Penn State sophomore.
FIRST PERIOD: Tied, 0-0
If Aaron Brooks feels pressure after watching teammate Carter Starocci win against Michael Kemerer, he's not showing it, wrestling in the traditional "free" style of the Penn State Nittany Lions. But still, a scoreless first period.
Aaron Brooks is wrestling like the kind of championship athlete that Penn State has come to be known for over the past decade, and his tech against Anderson in the first showed that he's not messing around. This guy is here to try and win a title, and he's going to shoot for that goal while scoring bonus points.
- Round ONE: WIN over Jhaquan Anderson (Gardner-Webb) TECH 17-1 5:25
- Round TWO: WIN over Owen Webster (Minnesota) 5-0
- Round THREE: WIN over Taylor Venz (Nebraska) 9-4
- Round FOUR: WIN over Parker Keckeisen (Northern Iowa) 6-4
Starocci stuns Michael Kemerer at 174
OVERTIME: Carter Starocci does it for the Nittany Lions! The freshman is a national champion with a takedown.
THIRD PERIOD: Tied 1-1
Kemerer chooses down to start the third. Kemerer is out, and it's tied up at 1-1. Riding time is not a factor. The pace has slowed. And here we go...another overtime.
SECOND PERIOD: Starocci leads 1-0
Starocci starts down to start the second, and he picks up an escape. That's the only point on the board so far, as time ticks down in the second period. Twenty seconds left. There's a shot from Starocci! He's close with one ankle. Kemerer holds tough and moves out of bounds, but Starocci nearly had him at the edge. Nothing.
FIRST PERIOD: Scoreless, 0-0
Kemerer goes in for the first shot, but Starocci defends. Let's scramble! Starocci had Kemerer's ankle, but Kemerer was in position to gain control the entire time, but it's a stalemate call, so we're back in the middle. And that's another scoreless period.
Shane Griffith sends a message at 165 pounds
THIRD PERIOD: Shane Griffith is a national champion! (and Outstanding Wrestler of the Tournament)
Griffith chooses neutral to start the third. He goes in for a shot, and they scramble. Takedown Griffith. He takes the 4-2 lead with less than a minute to go. He's working to ride up the riding time. Wentzel nearly escapes, but then Griffith goes in for more. That's it. Stanford has a national championship and Griffith picks up his title in style, 7-2. The message from Griffith is clear: Keep Stanford Wrestling.
SECOND PERIOD: Tied 2-2
Wentzel starts on the bottom to begin the period and picks up the escape. It's 2-2, riding time is not a factor.
FIRST PERIOD: Griffith leads 2-1
Shane Griffith puts up the first two points of the period and becomes the only wrestler to score in the first period so far in this finals session. Rocking the black singlet to protest against his school, Stanford, cutting the wrestling program, Griffith is on a mission. Wentzel though is looking for a move of his own. These guys haven't held anything back. There's no cautious wrestling here.
Shane Griffith's path to the finals:
Alex Marinelli has some trouble with No. 8 seeds. He lost in the quarterfinals in 2019 to then-No. 8 Mekhi Lewis, and this year, he suffered the same fate against No. 8 Shane Griffith of Stanford in sudden victory. Marnielli started the tournament with two major wins over Austin Yant of Northern Iowa and Thomas Bullard of N.C. State, and he looked calm and composed against Griffith, but the Cardinal was too much. Tied 1-1 at the end of regulation in the quarterfinals, Griffith initiated a shot, Marinelli responded and led his opponent into a scramble. Marinelli looked like he might finish on top, but Griffith was just a little better.
UPSET ALERT: 8 seeded Shane Griffith takes out #1 seed Alex Marinelli— FloWrestling (@FloWrestling) March 19, 2021
Griffith came into the tournament with just one loss in the Pac-12 finals to Anthony Valencia, but everyone is 0-0 at the start of the NCAA Tournament, and Griffith is now 3-0 and on his way to the semifinals. He'll meet Zach Hartman of Bucknell in the semifinals as he attempts to chase his first national title.
"I'm just trying to make a name for myself and the program," Griffith said when asked about maybe being the last Stanford wrestler to compete for a title.
Stanford announced over the summer that the school would be cutting wrestling at the end of the season, but Griffith doesn't want the school to forget what wrestling has brought to the athletic department. His mission is about more than himself.
David Carr takes gold at 157 pounds
THIRD PERIOD: DAVID CARR WINS 4-0
Dellavecchia does down to start the third, but Carr has taken control. He racks up the riding time, but Rider challenges for locked hands. No locked hands, so we continue. Carr stays on top and pushes his riding time over a minute. The Cyclone is 45 seconds away from a national title. Now he's looking for back points, but that's it. DAVID CARR IS A NATIONAL CHAMPION!
SECOND PERIOD: Carr leads 3-0
Carr stars the second period on bottom. Dellavecchia initiates the ride and holds Carr down for 38 seconds, but Carr does earn the escape and takes the 1-0 lead. Carr goes in for the first shot of the match, and he finishes. That's a 3-0 lead for the Cyclone has he chases his first title. Carr rides out the period, and he'll head into the third period with lead.
FIRST PERIOD: Scoreless again. No wrestler has scored a point in the first period so far in this finals session.
UNC's O'Connor wins his first title at 149
🚨 AUSTIN O’CONNOR IS A NATIONAL CHAMPION!! 🚨— UNC Wrestling (@UNCWrestling) March 20, 2021
No. 2 Austin O’Connor defeats No. 1 Sammy Sasso, 3-2!
O’Connor is North Carolina’s first national champion since 1995 (T.J. Jaworsky).
JOB FINISHED! O’CONNOR IS THE 149-POUND NATIONAL CHAMPION!#GoHeels | #WeWantMore pic.twitter.com/Sa6ksdl6Ac
Third period: Austin O'Connor wins 3-2
Sasso escapes. He ties is up 1-1, but Sasso has riding time. Less than a minute to go. Sasso takes a shot, but O'Connor reverses and picks up two and eliminates the riding time. The Tar Heel is warned for stalling, and Sasso escapes. It's 3-2 O'Connor, riding time is not a factor. In the last ten seconds, it's Sammy Sasso with the takedown. Or almost. He had O'Connor on the edge with time and wrapped himself around both ankles. The refs did not call the takedown, but Ohio State challenges. Now we wait. NO TAKEDOWN!
Second period: O'Connor leads 1-0
Austin O'Connor chooses bottom to start the second. Here he comes, but Sasso has his eyes on the cradle. The refs are calling for more action, but nothing happens. Stalemate. There's some caution here from two two wresters who aren't known for cautious wrestling. O'Connor escapes, so that's a 1-0 lead for the Tar Heel. Sasso does have over one minute of riding time, and that's how they'll head into the third.
First period: Tied, 0-0
Scoreless. Goodness, this has been a trend.
Nick Lee tops Eierman at 141
It's Penn State in overtime again as Nick Lee finishes to win his first national title! Two-for-two for the Nittany Lions.
THIRD PERIOD: Tied 2-2
Nick Lee picks up the early two points in the third for a momentum shifter, but Eierman escapes so we're all tied up again. Lee has 30 seconds of riding time. Less than a minute in the match. Eierman warned for stalling. A shot from Eierman, but grabs the leg. Not enough time. We're going to overtime. Again.
SECOND PERIOD: Eierman leads 1-0
Eierman starts bottom to begin the second, and he's out for one escape point. That's all we have for scoring in the second, and we'll head to the third 1-0 Eierman
FIRST PERIOD: Scoreless 0-0
Lots of action early, but we're scoreless after the first minute. And scoreless after the second, but that's not for a lack of action or effort. Eierman and Lee are both wrestling smart, attacking cautiously but holding tough defensively to force restarts.
No. 2 Roman Bravo-Young wins 133 pounds
TAKEDOWN ROMAN-BRAVO YOUNG! He needs overtime, but the Nittany Lion is a national champ!
Bravo-Young starts down and escapes. He leads 1-0 with 1:50 to go, and that's a shot for the Penn State wrestler. No points, but here's the scramble. No points, but Bravo-Young is dinged for stalling. We're tied 1-1, and Bravo-Young is then hit again. Fix leads 2-1, but Bravo-Young has the riding time. We're heading to overtime.
Second period: Scoreless 0-0
The Nittany Lion racks up serious riding time as he holds Fix down for the entire two minutes. A stall warning on Roman Bravo-Young serves as the only hint of points in the second period, but we're scoreless again heading into the third.
First period: Scoreless 0-0
After a brief basketball delay, we are back to wrestling and off and running. Fix and Bravo-Young are scoreless after one period, and Fix chose down to start the second period.
Daton Fix returns to the national finals tournament after finishing second in 2019, and he'll meet Big Ten champion Roman Bravo-Young for his toughest test yet. Fix is one of of seven No. 1 seeds still alive, and he earned his spot under the bright lights after a major, two falls and a decision earlier in this tournament. You can rewatch his 2019 tournament run here and follow along as we track this top seed in the first finals match of the evening.
Jesse Dellavecchia upsets Ryan Deakin at 157
Northwestern's Ryan Deakin put up three solid wins so far this tournament, and he had done what he needed to do to put himself in position for a finals run. But Jesse Dellavecchia brought a new challenge. The first-time Rider All-American held Deakin scoreless through the first period, but in the second, riding the Wildcat, Dellavecchia went to work. Before fans could even blink, Dellavecchia had Deakin on his back for back points, back points, back points, and then BOOM. Dellavecchia had pinned the top seed, and he was moving on the finals.
🚨JESSE DELLAVECCHIA IS A 2021 NCAA ALL AMERICAN🚨— Rider Wrestling (@RiderWrestling) March 19, 2021
At 157 pounds Jesse Dellavecchia becomes Rider’s 20th All-American and the 5th Bronc to make it to the Semi-Finals in the programs history. pic.twitter.com/VMiVf0BU9W
The two-time Big Ten champion, Ryan Deakin, will drop down to the consolation finals and look to wrestle for third, but it's Dellavecchia, the MAC champion, who will have his shot at the finals. Dellavecchia will come into Saturday night's final with a 10-0 record and 50% bonus. Here's the moment he's been dreaming about his whole life: Saturday night wrestling under the bright lights.
"I know I can turn anyone...it just worked out, "Dellavecchia said. "It's a weird journey, but I've been loving it and happy to have found Rider."
NIU's Mason Kauffman wins Elite 90 Award
Congratulations to Mason Kauffman of NIU for being awarded the Elite 90 Award. The honor is presented annually to the student-athlete at the NCAA Tournament in each sport with the highest GPA. You can read about all of the 2021 Elite 90 Award here.
2021 NCAA wrestling championship brackets & schedule
See the updated brackets here.
See the updated team scores here.
See the final coaches rankings of 2021 here.
Complete Championship Schedule
|Thursday, March 18||11 a.m.||First Round||ESPNU|
|2 p.m.||First Round||ESPNU|
|6 p.m.||Second Round||ESPN2|
|9 p.m.||Second Round||ESPN2|
|Friday, March 19||11 a.m.||Quarterfinals||ESPNU|
|Saturday, March 20||11 a.m.||Medal Round||ESPN2|
Meet the 2021 NCAA wrestling All-Americans
In 2019, 80 men stood on the podium and celebrated that they were among the most elite of the elite in college athletics. They were All-Americans. Now, after a year of adversity and the challenge of competing in a national pandemic, champion wrestling is back. The top-eight men in each of the ten weight classes this year have earned a special honor, and they will march out together as a group tonight during the parade of All-Americans savoring and remembering the moments that made up this wild, unprecedented year.