Iowa wrestling standout Michael Kemerer to miss 2018-19 season with knee injury
IOWA CITY, Ia. — Michael Kemerer will not be suiting up for the Iowa wrestling team this season.
Kemerer, a redshirt junior for the Hawkeyes, will miss the rest of the 2018-19 season, Iowa coach Tom Brands announced Tuesday. Kemerer is scheduled to have surgery this week to fix a knee injury.
“I’m disappointed I won’t be on the mat with my teammates this season, but I am 100 percent committed to my rehab and recovery so I can return to the mat in 2019,” Kemerer said in a release.
“I have complete faith in my teammates, coaches, and medical staff, and they have faith in me. I will continue to give them all the very best that I have, on and off the mat.”
This is a big loss for Iowa, which is ranked No. 3 nationally as a team by Trackwrestling. Kemerer is a two-time All-American, taking third at 157 pounds in 2017 and fourth last year at the same weight. During his two trips to the NCAA Championships, he’s scored two pins, three major decisions and one technical fall. His overall record entering this season is 60-6.
The Murrysville, Pennsylvania native bumped up to 174 pounds for the 2018-19 season, but hadn’t competed for Iowa in any capacity. He was ranked No. 6 nationally at 174 by Trackwrestling to start the year.
“The best decision is what the decision is when we make the decision,” Brands said Tuesday. “That’s the decision we go with. It’s that simple.
“As far as Michael Kemerer goes, our attention is on him, what his needs are; the team and what its needs are; and every individual and what their needs are. That’s our focus every day, and that doesn’t change because there’s a crisis.”
Below is a video of Iowa's Michael Kemerer from the team's media day.
Iowa will seek a medical hardship waiver for Kemerer at the end of the season to try to secure a sixth year of eligibility. The NCAA has granted that right to wrestlers over the years — Iowa State’s Willie Miklus, for example, received a sixth year after wrestling two matches for Missouri in 2016-17 before season-ending knee surgery.
Brands appeared confident on Tuesday that Kemerer’s odds were good.
“There’s some new things out there that make it more in our favor for an extra year,” Brands said. “The bottom line is he has a year left after this year. We get our compliance in on that as we go forward. That’s another piece of the puzzle. We’re working on that.
“It’s premature right now. But we do have our ducks in a row.”
Wrestlers made available to the media on Tuesday said the news stung, but the team remained optimistic moving forward. Kaleb Young, Iowa’s starting 157-pounder, said Kemerer tweaked his knee a couple of weeks ago.
“You could tell it seemed a little more serious,” Young told the Register. “He was wrestling well, getting back, but he kept getting beat up. He has to take care of that and get healthy and get ready for next year.
“We all kind of witnessed it. Saw it coming almost. I don’t think anybody is taking it too hard … losing Kemerer is kind of a big hit, but we have a lot of capable guys in the room.”
In Kemerer’s place, for the short term, is redshirt freshman Myles Wilson, who’s 2-2 this season. The Junction, Colorado native opened the year with two victories in Iowa’s season-opening duals, but has since lost to Princeton’s Tracis Stefanik by major and Purdue’s Dylan Lydy by decision.
Wilson is expected to go at 174 on Saturday, when Iowa (4-0) hosts No. 25 Iowa State (1-0) in the annual Cy-Hawk dual at Carver-Hawkeye Arena (2 p.m.). He will likely wrestle another redshirt freshman in Marcus Coleman, who’s 5-3 with four bonus-point wins and is ranked No. 21 nationally by Track.
After this weekend, Brands hinted that other options could potentially surface for the team moving forward.
“We have a lot of 157-pounders, as you saw, and we have some upper-weight guys that have certified down there,” Brands said. “We have some options. Obviously, the heavier guys are going to take time because of the math and the formulas and the NCAA rules.
“But the bottom line is, we’re going to put the best guy on the mat at that weight class.”
The Hawkeyes have won 14-straight duals against Iowa State, including last year’s 35-6 win at Hilton Coliseum in Ames. On Saturday, they will try for a 15th in a row, and will do so with Kemerer watching from the bench.
Young wins Big Ten Wrestler of the Week
The Big Ten Conference announced Tuesday that Young was the Big Ten Wrestler of the Week. It is the first of Young’s career, and the first for Iowa this season.
Young, ranked No. 12 nationally at 157 pounds, recorded a second-period pin over Purdue’s Griffin Parriott, who’s ranked No. 23, in Iowa’s 26-9 win over the Boilermakers on Saturday.
“I think they send a certificate,” said Young, who’s 4-0 this year. “I might send it to my mom.”
Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.