Photos: There was plenty of buzz between Penn State (left) and Iowa...
Iowa crowns three champs, earns 36th all-time Big Ten title
By Tristan Warner
PISCATAWAY, NJ — The Iowa wrestling team captured its 36th Big Ten team championship Sunday afternoon at the Rutgers Athletic Center.
The Hawkeyes accumulated 157.5 team points to capture the outright conference title, while second place Nebraska was 25.5 points behind with 132 points. Ohio State, Penn State and Purdue rounded out the top five.
“We need to give ourselves some credit,” Iowa head coach Tom Brands said. “With NCAAs coming up in two weeks, it is easy to turn our focus, but this was a job well done. We are not downplaying this. It was a battle, but we got the job done and done well.”
The Hawkeyes crowned three individual champions, as Spencer Lee (125), Pat Lugo (149) and Alex Marinelli (165) won their respective bouts in the finals, while Michael Kemerer (174) finished as the runner-up.
Winning his first ever Big Ten individual title, Spencer Lee wasted little time in his 125-pound finals bout, scoring early and often en route to a 16-2 major decision over No. 2 seed Devin Schroder of Purdue.
In a crowd-thrilling 133-pound final bout that featured a hometown New Jersey native, fifth-seeded Sebastian Rivera used a third period takedown, near fall and riding time point to upend Penn State’s Roman Bravo-Young, 7-2.
“This doesn’t matter,” Rivera stated. “Last year I won Big Tens and Spencer Lee went on to win nationals. There’s a big difference between this and NCAAs, and this is the year I need to make that jump.”
At 141, Ohio State senior Luke Pletcher avenged his only loss of the season, defeating Penn State’s previously unbeaten Nick Lee, 6-5, on the strength of first and third period takedowns.
“It was a hard match, but I feel good,” the Buckeye veteran said. “The biggest adjustment I made was just dictating the pace of the match and making sure I got off bottom both times.”
At 149, Iowa senior Pat Lugo captured his first Big Ten title with a 2-1 win over top-seeded Sammy Sasso of Ohio State. The veteran Hawkeye scored a first period takedown and fended off a late leg attack by Sasso to secure the victory.
In one of the night’s most exciting bouts, Alex Marinelli avenged his only loss of the season, finishing a sweep single with under 15 seconds in regulation to defeat two-time NCAA Champion Vincenzo Joseph of Penn State.
“I love competing with that guy,” Marinelli exclaimed. “It’s always fireworks. He is on my mind a lot, but I try to just take it one match at a time. Coach Brands always preaches to stay in your match, and when the moment came, I attacked it.”
The 174-pound final saw another rematch between wrestlers whose only losses are now to each other. Penn State’s Mark Hall avenged an earlier season loss to Michael Kemerer of Iowa, securing a takedown and two-point near fall from a danger zone count.
“Last time I wrestled him I was too excited,” Hall said. “I’m not sure if he didn’t hear the count or if I just had his arm trapped too tight for him to bail. Either way, I found out a lot about who I am from the first match against him. I need to believe in myself and believe what my coaches instill in me.”
Another Nittany Lion followed suit after Hall, as freshman Aaron Brooks won the 184-pound Big Ten crown, defeating Cameron Caffey of Michigan State, 3-2, with a late takedown.
After Ohio State’s Kollin Moore clinched the Buckeyes’ second individual title of the night with a 4-1 decision over Eric Schultz of Nebraska, high-powered Gable Steveson used a handful of takedowns to upend Michigan’s Mason Parris, 8-6, at heavyweight.
“I think I was pretty dominant this weekend in my eyes,” Steveson commented. “I got to my double and my ankle pick perfectly in the finals. I’m excited to wrestle at NCAAs in Minneapolis. I think US Bank is a perfect fit. It’s going to be crazy.”
Despite having just one wrestler in the finals and no champions, Nebraska was the only team from the Big Ten to automatically qualify all 10 wrestlers to the 2020 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships, to be held March 17-19 in Minneapolis. The NCAA will announce its at-large selections on March 11 that will help fill the 330-wrestler field.
2020 Big Ten Team Championshp
125 — Spencer Lee (Iowa) MD Devin Schroder (Purdue), 16-2
133 — Sebastian Rivera (Northwestern) DEC Roman Bravo-young (Penn State), 7-2
141 — Luke Pletcher (Ohio State) DEC Nick Lee (Penn State), 6-5
149 — Pat Lugo (Iowa) DEC Sammy Sasso (Ohio State), 2-1
157 — Ryan Deakin (Northwestern) DEC Kendall Coleman (Purdue), 7-2
165 —Alex Marinelli (Iowa) DEC Vincenzo Joseph (Penn State), 3-2
174 — Mark Hall (Penn State) DEC Michael Kemerer (Iowa), 8-5
184 — Aaron Brooks (Penn State) DEC Cameron Caffey (Michigan State), 3-2
197 — Kollin Moore (Ohio State) DEC Eric Schultz (Nebraska), 4-1
Hwt — Gable Steveson (Minnesota) dec. Mason Parris (Michigan) 8-6