10 Iowa wrestlers get official all-America status; 'right thing to do,' says Tom Brands

Chad Leistikow
Hawk Central

The sting of losing the opportunity to win the 2020 NCAA team championship still lingers, but a slice of closure was received for the Iowa wrestling program Saturday as nine Hawkeyes were named first-team all-Americans by the National Wrestling Coaches Association.

Iowa coach Tom Brands had been out front of the conversation in recent weeks to have all-Americans be officially recognized — even though the NCAA Championships were canceled seven days before they were scheduled to begin, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Iowa wrestling team won the 2020 Big Ten Championships by a wide margin and was poised to win the NCAA title.

Junior Spencer Lee, the 2020 Hodge Trophy winner, headlines Iowa's all-Americans. The No. 1-ranked wrestler at 125 pounds, who had a shot at his third straight NCAA title denied, was joined by Austin DeSanto (No. 6 NCAA seed at 133), Max Murin (No. 7 at 141), Pat Lugo (No. 1 at 149), Kaleb Young (No. 8 at 157), Alex Marinelli (No. 1 at 165), Michael Kemerer (No. 2 at 174), Jacob Warner (No. 5 at 197) and Tony Cassioppi (No. 3 at heavyweight) as first-teamers. Typically, the top eight finishers at the NCAAs earn all-America distinction.

Freshman Abe Assad, who was seeded No. 11 for the NCAAs at 184, was awarded second-team status.

Brands confirmed in a conversation with the Des Moines Register on Saturday that all 10 names will be put on Iowa's wall of all-Americans inside the wrestling room.

"We will do it that way, and I am not even torn about it," Brands said. "I am convinced that is the way to do it.  There is no other team that had as many dominant individuals.

"I always check myself to make sure I'm not being self-serving. Naming these wrestlers and recognizing them officially is the right thing to do. They earned it the entire year with their individual results. “

Iowa was the only Division I school to have 10 all-Americans and the only one with nine on the first team. The top-ranked Hawkeyes ran away with the Big Ten Championships and went 13-0 in the dual season. Iowa's 10 all-Americans combined for a 184-29 record this season with 90 bonus-point wins.