Throughout the past two years this has been the biggest rivalry in college wrestling. Penn State vs Iowa has lived up to the hype every single year. The drama, the intensity, and the upsets did not disappoint. The last time they wrestled in a dual meet Iowa ended up getting the better of Penn State 19-17.
This was by far one of the greatest duals in collegiate wrestling history. At 133 pounds we had Roman Bravo-Young pull the upset over Austin Desanto where he almost pinned Desanto twice until he forfeited the bout due to injury. We look at this now and it is no longer an upset with Bravo-Young having two back to back wins over the Hawkeye after.
At 165 pounds we had a classic with Vincenzo Joseph finally being able to get the better of Alex Marinelli and in dramatic fashion with a crazy 6 point move. Marinelli would end up getting the better of Joseph in the Big Ten finals however 3-2 still leading the all time series over the Nittany Lion.
At 174 even crazier things happened, Michael Kemerer back from redshirt now up at 174 pounds gets the unthinkable upset over National Champion Mark Hall in a wild action filled bout and Carver erupted. History repeated itself here just as it did with Joseph and Marinelli and hall was able to get revenge in the Big Ten finals over Kemerer.
The biggest question to this dual meet was what would have happened if Penn State had Anthony Cassar. Anthony Cassar came back for one final season, but after getting injured again the National Champion unfortunately had to call an end to his iconic career.
This rivalry in the 2019-2020 seasons will always be the biggest “what if”. We all know how this ended with the NCAA shutting down winter sports and not giving athletes redshirts. This put a very tragic end to many wrestlers career’s most notably here National Champions Mark Hall and Vincenzo Joseph. Iowa on the other hand was able to return everyone back and even pull in a very big pickup in multiple time All American Jaydin Eierman.
Last season everything was condensed so we did not get to see a dual meet between these two juggernauts. Iowa did end up getting the better of Penn State in the Big Ten tournament and in the NCAA tournament. However Penn State ended up with 4 National Champions while Iowa ended up with 1. This caused a lot of controversy as you could expect with people questioning the team scoring system and how it is possible to end up with almost half of the National Champions and finish in 2nd place.
Consistency, this is what Iowa had and it is also what Penn State lacked throughout their lineup in that season. Iowa was able to qualify all 10 guys for the NCAA tournament while Penn State was not putting themselves at an already big disadvantage. Coming into this season will it be a different story or will Iowa be able to stay on top?
In this we will be taking a look at how they match up against each other in a dual meet setting vs a tournament setting. People looking from the outside in would say that Penn State is a huge favor at the moment let us see how that might play out.
Dual Meet Preview-
125- Drake Ayala vs Drew Hildebrandt
We have two new faces right off of the bat. Ayala just had his red shirt pulled against Patrick McKee of Minnesota where he dropped his bout 8-6 to the All American. Crazy enough Drew Hildebrandt faced off against Patrick McKee in his final match wrestling for Central Michigan
Now essentially looking at it from an outside perspective they are neck and neck which would put this as one of the big swing matches. Drew Hildebrandt just pinned against Maryland in his highly anticipated debut as a Nittany Lion. Now take that as what you will being his opponent is unranked, but he does not look like he has lost a step since last season.
January 28th this match will most likely be seen so it is not too far away. Would have to label this one as a swing match but it would very well be in favor of Hildebrandt at this point in time.
133- Austin Desanto vs Roman Bravo-Young
This match has some history behind it as Desanto dominated this bout earlier in RBY’s career at the Big Ten tournament and at the National tournament in 2019. Time come the 2020 season the script flipped completely as Bravo-Young dominated the bout in the dual meet untill Desanto medical forfeited and took out the Hawkeye again at the Big Ten tournament before falling to Northwestern’s Sebastian Rivera. We did not get to see the trilogy that season due to Covid-19 however it was renewed the next year in the Big Ten finals where Bravo-Young dominated again.
Where does the match stand now? Desanto has had quite a bit of close matches but no losses while RBY looked the most tested against McGee of ASU who is looking like a top 5 guy at the moment. Bravo-Young definitely has the upper hand in this bout and it would take a miracle for Desanto to get the win. Now the big question as bonus points are at a very high premium in this dual, can he get them? Probably not, but it is 100% not out of the question here.
141- Jaydin Eierman vs Nick Lee
We got a classic here as they are 1-1 against each other. Eierman won in the Big Ten finals and Nick Lee won in the NCAA finals. Who’s turn is it now and who is the favorite? Would have to go with Nick Lee based on how he has looked this season. Eierman has had some close calls but still no losses with a perfect season up until this point so it should be a good match.
If Eierman wants to win he needs to stay poised and stay confident in his defense while trying to rack up as much riding time as possible when given the chance. If Lee wants to win he needs to do exactly what he did in the NCAA finals. Stay with his offense and finish quick taking advantage of his gas tank.
overall would have to rule this one as a swing match once again with the odds in Lee’s favor.
149- Max Murin vs Beau Bartlett
This is a match that seems out of hand at first but with their past performances it could very well go either way. Both very low attack rate guys but also very high percentage finish rate guys when they do get to legs. This will most likely end up as a 3-2 bout unless something crazy happens.
Watching Bartlett wrestle at the Collegiate Duals was interesting, he took out All American Kyle Parco in overtime and he honestly looked a little like Vincenzo Joseph. Not just the inside trip to win it but just his defensive style and quick high crotches. He did get bonused for the first time ever in college by none other than Yianni Diakomihalis which is just what it is. Yianni is on another level compared to anyone in this weight in college.
Murin looked a little rough dropping a match to Lehigh where he should not have. However that being said Murin would still have to remain a favorite in this match and unless something big happens no bonus points will be scored.
157- Kaleb Young vs Brady Berge/Joe Lee/Tony Negron
This match will be huge. Brady Berge just announced he will be returning to Penn State to finish his final semester of college wrestling as a Nittany Lion. This is big because at the national tournament last season Berge knocked off Kaleb Young in the quarterfinals sending him into the consolations. Berge also ended up retiring from the sport due to injury where he took an assistant coaching role at South Dakota State. Now with him back at PSU assuming he can get into decent shape he could very well place.
For purposes of the the dual meet however Young even though he is having a very poor start to this season still has to be considered a big favorite here. It is no secret that Penn State is struggling a lot at 157 and 165 at the moment and this is where Iowa needs to rack up bonus points. Kaleb Young will be your projected winner at this point but who knows.
165- Alex Marinelli vs Creighton Edsell
Marinelli must win this match which has to be said first off and he most likely will. On top of that he needs to find a way to put up bonus points. Edsell has been improving match to match and most recently lost to Anthony Valencia 10-5 which shows where he is at the moment. An upset here would not really be in the talks unless something crazy happens but Marinelli needs to push for a major here. He has the size and strength advantage and may possibly be able to get a pin on top if he can get a pinning combo going.
174- Michael Kemerer vs Carter Starocci
This is another pivotal match in this dual meet and pretty much the same for tournament scoring with Starocci being number one at the moment and Kemerer being number two. Kemerer just went out last night for his season debut and looked decent against Minnesota picking up a 9-2 victory. He looked in pain this entire match brings up the question on why didn’t they let him recover for longer. When Brands was asked this he said that Kemerer made the choice to go out.
Starocci crazily enough looks like he has jumped levels since last season, and with Kemerer looking hurt a bit still it seems like a Starocci win is apparent here. Even with this Kemerer still has a very good chance being that he defeated Starocci 7-2 in the Big Ten finals last season before ultimately dropping the National Finals bout in overtime.
Overall at this point in the season and looking at the circumstances there is no real way that Carter Starocci is not the favorite but this will still go down as a swing match.
184- Abe Assad vs Aaron Brooks
This might be an outmatch at this point in time and Penn State is going to need to capitalize off of that. Brooks the defending NCAA Champion has looked solid this season and on point, has had a couple close matches with All Americans but never really in danger of losing. Brooks will need to get a major in this bout to make up for two big swing matches coming up after this.
197- Jacob Warner vs Max Dean
This will be one of the biggest matches throughout the dual. At this point in the season Max Dean looks like he can be a threat to AJ Ferrari and really the only one who has proven that. Warner has looked good as well even though he did drop a match to Yonger Bastida earlier in the season. I see this match up favoring Dean at the moment but anything could really go down here with how both of these guys have looked. Dean always has the possibility to put up bonus points here so it should be a very fun bout to watch.
285- Tony Cassioppi vs Greg Kerkvliet
Now that Kerkvliet is somewhat healthy this should be a fun bout to watch. Both of these guys have had tremendous off seasons with Cassioppi winning a U23 World Title and Kerkvliet knocking off Mason Parris at the Olympic Trials before falling to only eventual Olympic Champion Gable Steveson.
This is the match the dual meet may just come down to and this one will not disappoint. Both of these guys have very explosive offensive arsenals and can rack up points in the top position once they take you down. Kerkvliet is currently unbeaten and Cassioppi only has two losses this season with one of them coming to only Gable Steveson.
Overall since Cassioppi won the last meeting between these two it seems that he is the favorite but this is definitely going to go down as a swing match.
Looking at this team there is a very obvious weak spot and that comes at 184 pounds with Abe Assad. The need to qualify for the NCAA tournament at this weight first thing and when they do he needs to win at least one match. In general Ayala just needs to scrap points together where he can Iowa can’t rely on a freshman to win them this natty. Kemerer is hurt so that is always a wildcard. The biggest thing is going to be Marinelli and how he can perform. This needs to be his year if Iowa wants a chance. Cassioppi is a big one as well with how the depth of heavyweight has developed, so he needs to get at least top 5 here. If Desanto or Eierman can win that would be huge but those are not things they can really bank on.
Brady Berge/Joe Lee/Tony Negron
What does Penn State need to do? That is pretty simple, qualify all ten guys and it is 90% done. Looking at how we now finally have a solid 125 pounder who should be able to get on the podium again, and how Beau Bartlett has improved he should not have trouble qualifying for the tournament. The big thing that will affect this is if the four guys do not repeat. If one of them loses it is fine and the team win should be intact but they need 3 champs essentially unless Dean and Hildebrant can push really high.