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Photo: Northwestern’s Sebastian Rivera (right) prepared to score a takedown in his upset of top seed Seth Gross during Saturday’s Big Ten tournament semifinals in Piscataway, N.J. (Photo by Ginger Robinson)
By Tristan Warner
After the smoke settled Saturday night in the Rutgers Athletic Center, Iowa led the team race at the 2020 Big Ten Wrestling Championship by 19 points, accruing 121.5 team points while second place Nebraska sat at 102.5.
The Hawkeyes sent four wrestlers into Sunday’s Big Ten finals, as Spencer Lee, Pat Lugo, Alex Marinelli and Michael Kemerer each earned victories Saturday evening. Iowa went 4-3 in the semifinal round, as Austin DeSanto, Abe Assad and Tony Cassioppi dropped into the consolation semis.
“Tomorrow is a big day,” Iowa head coach Tom Brands said. “I don’t know the point totals exactly, but I know we are leading. I am focused on tomorrow. We have to keep progressing. We need to keep scoring bonus points. Even guys who are facing adversity need to keep scoring bonus points.”
Meanwhile, defending Big Ten and national champion Penn State sent five wrestlers to the finals, including Vincenzo Joseph (165) and Mark Hall (174) who will face Marinelli and Kemerer respectively in the finals
The Big Ten finals are set for 3:30 p.m. ET and will be streamed live on Big Ten Network.
The low point for Iowa struck when No. 2 seeded 157-pounder Kaleb Young finished 0-2, eliminating him from automatically qualifying for the NCAA Championships. Young was upset in the quarters by Nebraska freshman Peyton Robb, 3-2, before falling 3-1 to Illinois’ Eric Barone in Saturday evening’s wrestle backs. The junior Hawkeye will be forced to await the at-large bid announcements next week.
Nebraska sent just one wrestler, 197-pounder Eric Schultz, into the finals via a narrow 4-3 decision over Penn State’s Shakur Rasheed. The Huskers still have all 10 wrestlers battling through the consolations and have a chance to qualify all 10 to the NCAA Championships.
In one of the night’s most exciting matches, Northwestern’s fifth-seeded Sebastian Rivera topped No. 1 seed Seth Gross of Wisconsin, 7-6, in the 133-pound semifinal. The returning Big Ten champ Rivera, who has moved up to 133 after winning at 125 last year, rallied from behind, scoring two late takedowns and fended off a pair of late leg attacks from Gross to earn his second straight trip to the finals.
In the other 133-pound semi, Penn State’s Roman Bravo-Young scored a takedown in the first 15 seconds, which proved to be the difference in a hotly contested 3-2 battle with Iowa’s Austin DeSanto. Bravo-Young will square off with Rivera for the first time this season in tomorrow’s final.
At 141, a stage is set for a highly anticipated rematch between the nation’s top-ranked wrestlers, as Penn State’s Nick Lee slid by Chad Red of Nebraska, 7-5, and Luke Pletcher of Ohio State handled Mitch McKee from Minnesota, 11-3.
The 149-pound final will also boast the nation’s top two ranked grapplers, as Sammy Sasso of Ohio State and Pat Lugo of Iowa will do battle for a Big Ten title.
The 157-pound bracket, thrown in disarray when Nebraska freshman Peyton Robb upended Iowa’s Kaleb Young, leveled out in Saturday evening’s semifinals. Top-seeded Ryan Deakin of Northwestern advanced with ease while third-seeded Kendall Coleman of Purdue ousted Robb, 3-2.
Penn State and Iowa are set to tangle in perhaps the premier bouts of Sunday’s finals, as Vincenzo Joseph and Alex Marinelli will battle at 165 while Michael Kemerer and Mark Hall advanced to the finals at 174.
Freshman Aaron Brooks got the Nittany Lion fans on their feet during the 184-pound semis, as the top seed broke open a 3-3 deadlock and slapped a roll-through cradle on Nebraska’s Taylor Venz for a fall, avenging his only loss of the season to date. Michigan State’s Cameron Caffey topped Abe Assad of Iowa, 5-3, in the bottom semi.
Ohio State’s Kollin Moore cruised to the finals at 197 with consecutive major decision victories, setting up a finals date with Nebraska’s Eric Schultz.
At 285, Michigan’s Mason Parris secured a fall and a 4-0 win over Wisconsin’s Trent Hillger, while returning NCAA finalist Gable Steveson blast doubled his way to an 8-4 win over Tony Cassioppi of Iowa. Parris and Steveson have not met yet this season.
2020 Big Ten Semifinal Results
Spencer Lee (Iowa) won by TF Jack Medley (Michigan), 19-3 3:23
Devin Schroder (Purdue) dec. Michael Deaugustino (Northwestern), 6-0
Sebastian Rivera (Northwestern) dec. Seth Gross (Wisconsin), 7-6
Roman Bravo-young (Penn State) dec. Austin Desanto (Iowa), 3-2
Nick Lee (Penn State) dec. Chad Red jr. Lincoln, NE (Nebraska), 7-5
Luke Pletcher (Ohio State) major dec. Mitchell Mckee Hanover, MN (Minnesota), 11-3
Sammy Sasso (Ohio State) dec. Kanen Storr (Michigan), 3-0
Pat Lugo (Iowa) dec. Brayton Lee (Minnesota), 4-1
Kendall Coleman (Purdue) dec. Peyton Robb (Nebraska), 3-2
Ryan Deakin (Northwestern) dec. Will Lewan (Michigan), 8-2
Alex Marinelli (Iowa) pinned Shayne Oster (Northwestern), 2:41
Vincenzo Joseph (Penn State) dec. Isaiah White (Nebraska), 6-3
Michael Kemerer (Iowa) major dec. Devin Skatzka (Minnesota), 22-9
Mark Hall (Penn State) dec. Dylan Lydy (Purdue), 5-4
Aaron Brooks (Penn State) pinned Taylor Venz (Nebraska), 4:00
Cameron Caffey (Michigan State) dec.Abe Assad (Iowa), 5-3
Kollin Moore (Ohio State) major dec. Lucas Davison (Northwestern), 16-5
Eric Schultz (Nebraska) dec. Shakur Rasheed (Penn State), 4-3
Mason Parris (Michigan) dec. Trent Hillger (Wisconsin), 4-0
Gable Steveson (Minnesota) dec. Anthony Cassioppi Roscoe, IL (Iowa), 9-4