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Iowa's Michael Kemerer defeated Penn State's top-ranked Mark Hall, 11-6, on Friday. Hawk Central

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Michael Kemerer is, officially, coming back next year.

Kemerer announced Sunday evening that he was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA, ensuring that he will return to the Iowa wrestling team for the 2020-21 season, which will likely begin the year as the No. 1-ranked team in the country.

"I am thankful and already ready to compete again," Kemerer said in a statement. "We did so many things and met every challenge we faced last year. We had a great team and a lot of fun doing it.

"We are bringing a lot of guys back, but it is a new season now, so we are going to have to go out and earn it again."

The Murrysville, Pennsylvania, native missed all of the 2018-19 season due to injury, which bolstered his medical hardship case to regain a final year of eligibility. His return gives the Hawkeyes a bona fide national title favorite at 174 pounds.

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6th year granted✅ #GrandpaMike

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With Kemerer back, Iowa returns nine of 10 postseason starters from the 2019-20 season. All nine earned top-12 seeds at the 2020 NCAA Championships: Spencer Lee (125), Austin DeSanto (133), Max Murin (141), Kaleb Young (157), Alex Marinelli (165), Abe Assad (184), Jacob Warner (197) and Tony Cassioppi (285), plus Kemerer.

On top of that, Jaydin Eierman, a three-time All-American from Missouri who transferred to Iowa for his final season, will join the lineup after taking an Olympic redshirt last year. He’s previously said he plans to wrestle 141 pounds.

Kemerer boasts a 75-7 career record and has earned All-American honors three times. He went 15-1 in 2019-20, finished second at the Big Ten Championships and earned the 2-seed at the NCAA Championships, which was then canceled due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Before the 2018-19 season, Kemerer was a two-time All-American at 157 pounds, finishing third in 2017 and fourth in 2018. Over those two seasons, he went 60-6 with 40 bonus-point wins.

After jumping two weight classes, Kemerer showed he was capable of the same offensive production. Of his 15 victories, 10 earned bonus points — four major decisions, three pins and three major decisions.

Due to the cancellation of the NCAA Championships, the National Wrestling Coaches Association awarded All-American recognition to wrestlers based on their 2020 NCAA seeds. Kemerer earned first-team All-American honors.

Now he’ll return for the opportunity to join the list of four-time All-Americans. Only 20 wrestlers in program history have done so. As many as three more — Lee and Marinelli, plus Kemerer — could join that list in 2020-21.

"You don’t take your accomplishments from last year into the next year, so we have to be looking forward," Kemerer said, "but we have a good team and it is going to be a fun year."

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

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