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Instant Reaction: No. 1 Iowa wrestling defeats No. 2 Penn State 19-17 at sold-out Carver-Hawkeye Arena

Cody Goodwin
Hawk Central

What a dual.

In a topsy-turvy dual that featured injuries, upsets, wild scrambles and tons of top-notch wrestling from start to finish, the top-ranked Iowa wrestling team emerged victorious over No. 2 Penn State, 19-17.

This dual featured just two lead changes all night. Iowa went up 5-0 after Spencer Lee won at 125 pounds, then Penn State surged ahead after winning the next two. Pat Lugo stopped the bleeding with a win at 149, then the teams alternated the next five matches.

It ultimately came down to heavyweight, and the announced crowd of 14,905 was on their feet for the duration of Tony Cassioppi's victory over Seth Nevills to clinch the dual for the Hawkeyes.

It was a thriller. It was exciting. It was something of a rollercoaster.

But it was great no matter which way you look at it.

What a freaking dual, you guys.

125: No. 1 Spencer Lee (IA) tech. fall Brandon Meredith (PSU), 16-1

Workmanlike performance from Spencer Lee. Scored a takedown and took Meredith to his back right out of the gate for two quick back points. After Meredith got hit for stalling, Lee gifted him an escape and scored another takedown and rolled up a couple of four-point tilts to lead 14-1 after the first. Lee chose neutral to begin the second and scored a takedown 17 seconds in to secure the technical fall. He’s now outscored his 11 opponents 153-9 this season. Unreal.

Iowa jumps out to a 5-0 lead.

133:  No. 4 Roman Bravo-Young (PSU) over No. 2 Austin DeSanto (IA), injury default

Scary moment here for Iowa. DeSanto gets in on a shot early, but comes up hurt, favoring his right knee. After injury time, Bravo-Young starts down, escapes and takes DeSanto down for a 3-0 lead. DeSanto eventually escapes and gets in on another shot, but Bravo-Young turns it into a cradle for another takedown. DeSanto stops the match and told his corner he couldn’t go anymore. He limped off the mat in some obvious pain.

During DeSanto’s first injury time, Iowa associate head coach Terry Brands said something to the official, which caused the Hawkeyes to lose a team point. It went down on the books as “control of the mat area.” Penn State leads 6-4 after two matches.

141: No. 2 Nick Lee (PSU) tech. fall Carter Happel (IA), 20-5

Nick Lee took it to Happel in this one. Scored two takedowns in the opening minute and nearly pined Happel in a cradle in the first period. Lee went on to roll up seven total takedowns — two in the first, two in the second, three in the third — to win by a 20-5 technical fall, putting the Nittany Lions up 11-4. A less-than-ideal start for the Hawkeyes. Let’s see what they’re made of.

149: No. 3 Pat Lugo (IA) dec. No. 19 Jarod Verkleeren (PSU), 6-1

Pat Lugo gets his 100th career victory here against Jarod Verkleeren, and it was a solid match overall. After a scramble in the first period, Lugo connects for a takedown on the edge and rides out Verkleeren the rest of the way thanks to some mean mat returns. Lugo adds an escape, three stall calls and a point for riding-time to win. He forced his underhooks really well in the second period, but couldn’t use them to score.

This one brought Iowa within 11-7 after four matches.

157: No. 4 Kaleb Young (IA) dec. Bo Pipher (PSU), 6-1

Another workmanlike performance from Iowa. Young goes for a takedown, an escape, and points via stalling and riding-time to beat Bo Pipher. Young piled up more than three minutes of riding time, and his shot and finish in the first period was great enough that it would’ve been nice to see him try that more often. Iowa may have missed an opportunity for bonus points there.

The Hawkeyes took three of the first five matches, but Penn State leads 11-10 at the break.

165: No. 1 Vincenzo Joseph (PSU) dec. No. 2 Alex Marinelli (IA), 7-5

A scoreless first period was filled with some excellent, high-level wrestling. Marinelli tried for shots, but Joseph stepped out and broke locks with his hips. They both went into a body-lock position late in the period, but nothing happened. After a Marinelli escape in the second, they locked up again, and Joseph launched Marinelli and put him on his back for two and four back points. Excellent use of leverage and power there. You sometimes get burned when you play with fire.

Marinelli fought off and scored a reversal before the end of the period, then added a takedown in the third, but Joseph hangs on to win it, putting Penn State up 14-10 with four matches left.

174: No. 2 Michael Kemerer (IA) dec. No. 1 Mark Hall (PSU), 11-6

This match alone was worth the price of admission. Hall comes out firing with a headlock attempt, but Kemerer rolls through and turns it into a takedown — a whole sequence that was held up on review, as it looked like Hall maybe should've gotten two out of it. Hall comes back with a reversal, then Kemerer escapes, then Hall scores a takedown, then a Kemerer reversal makes it 5-4, Kemerer, after one.

Yes, that was just the first period.

Both guys were noticeably gassed as the match progressed, but Kemerer's held up better, as he added two more takedowns and racked up riding-time to win this one. It popped the lid off the top of Carver, too, and brought Iowa within 14-13 with three matches left.

184: No. 8 Aaron Brooks (PSU) dec. No. 6 Abe Assad (IA), 7-3

Brooks came out firing here, scoring two first-period takedowns, including one that came after an Assad headlock attempt in the opening moments. He tacked on a reversal in the third period and added riding time to win this one, and it simultaneously pushed Iowa to the brink, making the team score 17-13, Penn State, with two matches left.

197: No. 5 Jacob Warner (IA) dec. No. 11 Shakur Rasheed (PSU), 4-2

Warner comes out with a head full of steam and scores a takedown and follows with a mean, mean ride that piles up more than 90 seconds of riding time and included a handful of mat returns. He lets Rasheed up after about 10 seconds into the second, then scores a quick escape in the third to go up 3-2. Heavy hands and great awareness defensively kept Rasheed at bay the rest of the way, and Warner gets another point for riding time.

Makes the team score 17-16, Penn State, with one to go.

285: No. 3 Tony Cassioppi (IA) dec. No. 16 Seth Nevills (PSU), 7-0

Cassioppi seals the win with a decision victory over Nevills. Most of the action took place in the first period, when Cassioppi took a shot, Nevills turned it into his own shot and had Cassioppi's leg in the air, but stout defense and great mat awareness helped Cassioppi turn it into a takedown and piled up 1:42 of riding time to go with it.

A scoreless second period was followed by a Cassioppi escape to start the third, then he went right back in for another takedown to go up 5-0. A point for riding time and another for stalling secured his 14th win of the year.

And it also gave No. 1 Iowa a 19-17 win over No. 2 Penn State.

Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.

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