If Iowa felt any pressure after earning the No. 1 ranking last week, the team certainly didn’t show it in its Big Ten opener against then-No. 6 Wisconsin. The Hawkeyes barreled past the Badgers 32-3 to put on a dominant show in Carver-Hawkeye and solidified themselves as the team to beat this year. Leading the way for the Black and Gold was 133-pounder Austin DeSanto, who upset then-No. 1 Seth Gross and 6-2 and earned himself the top ranking. His win means that Iowa now has the No. 1 ranked wrestler at 125 pounds in Spencer Lee and 133 pounds in DeSanto, creating the most dangerous 1-2 lightweight punch in the country.
Iowa was one of just five ranked teams to compete over the Thanksgiving holiday week, but action continues this weekend with the Cliff Keen Invitational in Las Vegas this weekend and several ranked duals. For now, here’s what you need to know about the latest NWCA rankings:
Team of the Week: Iowa Hawkeyes
It’s a Hawkeye world, and we’re just living in it. Iowa’s 32-3 win over Wisconsin not only gave head coach Tom Brands his 100th Big Ten victory and kept his team undefeated on the year at 3-0, but it sent a message to the rest of the wrestling world that Iowa is ready to dismantle any top-ten opponent that walks into Carver-Hawkeye Arena. With a powerful lineup that includes seven All-Americans, Iowa looks to be just getting started, and the dominant performance over the Badgers certainly showed what this team is capable of this season.
IOWA TOPS IOWA STATE: Relive the best moments from the dual
Two-time NCAA champion Spencer Lee led off the team in Sunday’s dual and earned his second consecutive tech fall. His bonus points gave Iowa a comfortable 5-0 advantage when teammate Austin DeSanto stepped on the mat to take on 2018 NCAA champion Seth Gross. A sixth-year senior, Gross put himself in the Hodge conversation early with some solid early season wins, and he further increased his status as a wrestler to watch when he ran through a deep 57kg bracket at the Bill Ferrell Memorial Open. DeSanto, however, was unfazed by the hype, and he let Gross know that Carver was his house. The junior Hawkeye ran up the scoreboard, pulled off the upset and is now the guy to beat at 133 pounds, making Iowa an even bigger threat. Adding to the depth of the Hawkeyes is the return of 141-pounder Max Murin, who posted his first dual win of the season, and the success of 2019 All-American Pat Lugo and his win at 149 pounds.
Hawkeye junior Alex Marinelli also earned a ranked win with a big 4-2 decision over two-time All-American and No. 3 ranked wrestler Evan Wick, showing that The Bull owns Carver. Iowa also earned wins at 157 pounds from Kaleb Young, 174 pounds via a pin from Michael Kemerer and 197 pounds with a decision by Jacob Warner. Wisconsin graduate student Johnny Sebastian was the only Badger to earn a victory in Carver-Hawkeye on Sunday as he upset Cash Wilcke to give his team three points and prevent the shutout. Iowa’s Anthony Cassioppi finished the night heavyweight with an upset over then-No.2 Trent Hillger to stay undefeated on the year.
The loss moved Wisconsin from No. 6 to No. 8 in the rankings, while Iowa picked up all 14 first-place votes as a result of its win. North Carolina State jumped a spot with Wisconsin dropping down
Buckeyes pick up win against Cornell, move one spot in the poll
The now-No. 7 Ohio State Buckeyes put on a show in the Covelli Center on Sunday afternoon, taking down No. 17 Cornell 23-9 with wins from Malik Heinselman, Luke Pletcher, Sammy Sasso, Ethan Smith, Kaleb Romero, Kollin Moore and Gary Traub. The wins kept No. 1-ranked wrestlers Pletcher and Moore undefeated on the year, while Romero’s win gave him a ranked victory. The 174-pound Buckeye was the only Ohio State athlete to beat a ranked opponent in the dual, and he battled tough for his 6-5 win over then-No. 11 Brandon Womack. Cornell earned wins from No. 7 Chas Tucker at 133 pounds and No. 7 Ben Darmstadt at 184 pounds, as well as a tiebreaker win from Colton Yapoujian at 157 pounds.
Ohio State, Iowa and Penn State are the only three teams to have more than one No. 1 ranked wrestler, but the top-ranked 141- and 197-pound Buckeyes will be tested this weekend in Vegas. Iowa will travel to Midlands over the holiday break while Penn State opted not to schedule a winter tournament and will instead likely send several athletes to compete at senior nationals in Fort Worth, Texas with the hopes of securing additional Olympic Trials berths.
The Buckeyes and the Big Red will now both head to Las Vegas this weekend to compete in the Cliff Keen Invitational.
NO. 1 WRESTLERS TO WATCH: Zahid Valencia holds the top spot nationally at 184 pounds
Carolina holds steady after victory against in-state foe
North Carolina, a team that also has a No. 1 ranked wrestler in 149-pounder Austin O’Connor, picked up a 19-13 win over Appalachian State in Carmichael Arena over the weekend to stay ranked No. 18 in the NWCA poll. O’Connor weighed in at 149 pounds but did not wrestle, as he is still recovering from a broken arm. Teammate and 157-pounder A.C. Headlee, however, earned an upset win over then-No. 13 Matt Zovistoski while Carolina’s No. 19 Kennedy Monday held on to his ranking with a solid 6-2 win over Will Formato at 165 pounds. 174-pounder Clay Lautt continued his strong year with a win at 174 pounds over Thomas Flitz, and Joey Mazzara and Brandon Whitman both added decisions of their own at 184 and 197 pounds respectively. Zach Sherman earned the sole bonus points win for the Heels with a major decision over Bradley Irwin. North Carolina will be back in action on December 20 against Arkansas-Little Rock before heading to Midlands at the end of the year.
Full Top 25 rankings (Dec. 3):
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