NCAA Wrestling bracket breakdowns for Iowa, Iowa State and Northern Iowa wrestlers

Cody Goodwin
Des Moines Register

The paths to national titles are now set. 

The brackets for the 2022 NCAA Wrestling Championships were released Wednesday night, setting the stage for next week's national tournament, set for March 17-19 at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Mich.

In all, 10 Hawkeyes, nine Cyclones and eight Panther wrestlers all qualified for the NCAA Championships. Iowa is one of just three schools nationally to qualify all 10 starters, along with North Carolina State and Northwestern.

Additionally, four Iowa natives that rep other schools — Minnesota's Michael Blockhus, South Dakota State's Cade DeVos, Purdue's Max Lyon, South Dakota State's Tanner Sloan — all qualified for the national tournament.

Seven Hawkeye wrestlers earned top-8 seeds, and all 10 are seeded in the top-20 at their respective weights. Three Iowa State wrestlers earned top-10 seeds while four from Northern Iowa earned top-15 seeds.

Below are each of the first-round matchups for the Iowa, Iowa State, Northern Iowa and other Iowa natives that are in the field, plus their potential paths to the finals and other bracket reactions.

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Iowa's Drake Ayala wrestles at 125 pounds during the first session of the Big Ten Wrestling Championships on Saturday at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska.

125 pounds

  • Drake Ayala, Iowa — 13-seed, vs. #20 Fabian Gutierrez (UT-Chattanooga)
  • Brody Teske, Northern Iowa — 15-seed, vs. #18 Noah Surtin (Missouri)
  • Kysen Terukina, Iowa State — 26-seed, vs. #7 Trevor Mastrogiovanni (Oklahoma State)

Reaction: The three 125-pounders are all over the board. They all have winnable first-round matches, which would set up intriguing second-round matches.

If Ayala can beat Gutierrez, he would likely hit Arizona State's Brandon Courtney, the 4-seed, in the second round. Not ideal, but, hey, welcome to the big dance. West Virginia's Killian Cardinale, the 5-seed, would likely be waiting in the quarterfinals. Michigan's Nick Suriano, the 1-seed, is likely the matchup in the semifinals.

Teske gets a Big 12 rematch in the first round against Surtin, who he pinned earlier this year. If he wins, Cornell's Vito Arujau, the 2-seed, is likely waiting in the second round. Terukina has beaten Mastrogiovanni this year, 2-1 in late January. Pull that upset again and he'll get either Northwestern's Michael DeAugustino or Rutgers' Dylan Shawver.

Teske and Terukina are in the same quarter, so they could hit in the quarterfinals or potentially in the wrestlebacks, too, if they both win their first-round matches. On the bottom half of the bracket, Princeton's Pat Glory is the 3-seed. Wisconsin's Eric Barnett is the 6-seed.

Iowa's Austin DeSanto, left, wrestles Illinois' Lucas Byrd at 133 pounds on Saturday.

133 pounds

  • Austin DeSanto, Iowa — 5-seed, vs. #28 Sidney Flores (Air Force)
  • Kyle Biscoglia, Northern Iowa — 14-seed, vs. #19 Brayden Palmer (UT-Chattanooga)
  • Ramazan Attasauov, Iowa State — 24-seed, vs. #9 Michael Colaiocco (Penn)

Reaction: DeSanto as the 5-seed is a curious decision, since he's only lost to top-seeded Roman Bravo Young (Penn State) and second-seeded Daton Fix (Oklahoma State) this season. Ahead of DeSanto is third-seeded Michael McGee (Arizona State) and fourth-seeded Korbin Myers (Virginia Tech). DeSanto beat both last year.

DeSanto gets Air Force's Sidney Flores first, then likely sees Pittsburgh's Mickey Phillippi, the 12-seed, in round two. That would set up a quarterfinal match against Myers if they both get there, and a potential semifinal with RBY. Attasaouv could hit Bravo-Young in the quarters if he beats Colaiocco first, then likely Michigan State's RayVon Foley second. 

Biscoglia could hit McGee in the second round if they both win, with Michigan's Dylan Ragusin, the 6-seed, waiting in the quarterfinals. Fix, who has Wisconsin's Kyle Burwick first, could see North Carolina State's Kai Orine in the second round and Illinois's Lucas Byrd in the quarters on his way to the semifinals.

Penn State's Nick Lee, left, wrestles Iowa's Jaydin Eierman at 141 pounds on Jan. 28 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City.

141 pounds

  • Jaydin Eierman, Iowa — 2-seed, vs. #31 Wilfredo Gil (Franklin & Marshall)
  • Ian Parker, Iowa State — 13-seed, vs. #20 Parker Filius (Purdue)

Reaction: Eierman as the 2-seed was largely expected, and if the seeds hold, he'll have to beat Gil, North Carolina's Kizhan Clarke, the 15-seed, South Dakota State's Clay Carlson, the 7-seed, and Rutgers' Sebastian Rivera, the 3-seed, to reach the finals.

Minnesota's Jake Bergeland, the 10-seed, could also hit Eierman in the quarters, and Pittsburgh's Cole Matthews, the 6-seed, plus both Central Michigan's Dresden Simon and Nebraska's Chad Red are lurking as well. Simon-Red is actually a first-round match, with the winner likely getting Rivera.

Parker is on the top side of the bracket, with a first-round match against Filius. Win, and Stanford's Real Woods, the 4-seed, likely awaits in round two. If Parker keeps winning, he'll see Northern Colorado's Andrew Alirez, the 5-seed and Big 12 champ, and possibly Penn State's Nick Lee, the 1-seed and defending NCAA champ, in the semifinals.

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Iowa State's Jarrett Degen, right, wrestles Northern Iowa's Colin Realbuto at 149 pounds on Feb. 11.

149 pounds

  • Max Murin, Iowa — 8-seed, vs. #25 Corbyn Munson (Central Michigan)
  • Jarrett Degen, Iowa State — 17-seed, vs. #16 Willie McDougald (Oklahoma)
  • Colin Realbuto, Northern Iowa — 20-seed, vs. #13 Beau Bartlett (Penn State)
  • Michael Blockhus, Minnesota — 31-seed, vs. #2 Tariq Wilson (North Carolina State)

Reaction: A lot of Iowa flavor at this weight, especially on the top side of the bracket.

Degen gets a rematch with McDougald. Degen has lost to McDougald twice this season —  4-2 in overtime in the dual, then 5-4 in the Big 12 semifinals last weekend. If he can beat him here, he'll likely get Cornell's top-seeded Yianni Diakomihalis in Round 2.

Murin is in that same quad, and a possible second-round matchup against Oklahoma State's Kaden Gfeller, the 9-seed, looms. Murin beat Gfeller, 5-2, in the Bout at the Ballpark in February. If he beats him again, he could see the winner of Diakomihalis vs. Degen/McDougald in the quarters.

Realbuto is also on the top side of the bracket and could clash with Diakomihalis or Degen or Murin in the semifinals. If he beats Bartlett, Iowa and Michigan fans would both be happy, but that also sets up a second-round match against Ohio State's Sammy Sasso in round two. Arizona State's Kyle Parco is the 5-seed, with Rutgers' Mike Van Brill at the 12.

Blockhus, a former Panther who won state titles for both Crestwood and New Hampton, is on the other side of the bracket, and drew No. 2 Tariq Wilson first. If Blockhus pulls the upset and the seeds hold, he'd see Cal Poly's Legend Lamer in the second round, Campbell's Josh Heil in the quarters and Wisconsin's Austin Gomez in the semifinals.

Gomez, a former Cyclone wrestler and Big 10 champ last weekend, has a potentially gnarly path to the podium as the 3-seed. He could see either Yahya Thomas, a returning All-American, or Duke's Josh Finesilver in the second round, and potentially Virginia Tech's Bryce Andonian or Appalachian State's Jonathan Millner in the quarterfinals.

This might be the best bracket in the entire tournament. Buckle up.

Iowa State's David Carr is looking to repeat as national champ at 157 pounds.

157 pounds

  • David Carr, Iowa State — 1-seed, vs. pigtail winner
  • Kaleb Young, Iowa — 9-seed, vs. #24 Doug Zapf (Penn)
  • Derek Holschlag, Northern Iowa — 32-seed, vs. #33 Jordan Slivka (Ohio)

Reaction: This is David Carr's weight to lose, but a potential finals matchup against Northwestern's Ryan Deakin, the only wrestler to ever beat Carr during his college career, could be one of the best finals matches of the entire tournament.

Carr might have to beat his in-state counterparts to get to Saturday night. Holschlag has to win his pigtail to advance to wrestle Carr in the first-round. Young, after taking fourth at the Big Ten Championships, needs to beat Zapf then likely Michigan's Will Lewan in the second round to see Carr in the quarterfinals.

Carr could also see Berge in the second round, and then either North Carolina State's Ed Scott, the 4-seed, or Princeton's Quincy Monday, the 5-seed, in the semifinals. That's all on the top side of the bracket, too.

On the bottom side, Deakin is the 2-seed (and has Oklahoma State's Wyatt Sheets, a returning All-American who's dealing with injuries, in the first round) and Arizona State's Jacori Teemer, another returning All-American, is the 3-seed. North Dakota State's Jared Franek, the Big 12 runner-up, is the 6-seed, and could see North Carolina's Austin O'Connor, the 11-seed and last year's 149-pound NCAA champ, in the second round. Lehigh's Josh Humphreys is the 7-seed, Nebraska's Peyton Robb is the 10-seed.

Iowa's Alex Marinelli has his hand raised after scoring a decision at 165 pounds in the finals on Sunday at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska.

165 pounds

  • Alex Marinelli, Iowa — 3-seed, vs. #30 Evan Barczak (Drexel)
  • Austin Yant, Northern Iowa — 15-seed, vs. #18 Anthony Valencia (Arizona State)

Reaction: Marinelli drew the 3-seed and has a favorable draw into the quarterfinals. Take care of Barczak, and he'll see either Columbia's Josh Ogunsanya or Virginia's Justin McCoy in the second round.

A Big Ten final rematch with Michigan's Cameron Amine is his likely quarterfinal match, then Missouri's Keegan O'Toole, the 2-seed and returning All-American and Junior world champ, is likely waiting in the semifinals.

Except …

If Yant beats Valencia, he could see O'Toole in round two, and the winner there could see Ohio State's Carson Kharchla or Pitt's Jake Wentzel, a returning NCAA finalist, in the quarters.

All of that is on the bottom side of the bracket. Up top: Cal Poly's Evan Wick is the 1-seed, Wisconsin's Dean Hamiti is the 4-seed, and Stanford's Shane Griffith, the returning NCAA champ, is the 5-seed.

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Iowa's Michael Kemerer is introduced before wrestling at 174 pounds during the first session Saturday of the Big Ten Wrestling Championships.

174 pounds

  • Michael Kemerer, Iowa — 5-seed, vs. #28 Benjamin Pasiuk (Army West Point)
  • Cade DeVos, South Dakota State — 12-seed, vs. #21 Bailee O`Reilly (Minnesota)
  • Lance Runyon, Northern Iowa — 18-seed, vs. #15 Anthony Mantanona (Oklahoma)
  • Joel Devine, Iowa State — 24-seed, vs. #9 Mikey Labriola (Nebraska)

Reaction: Here's another action-packed weight with a lot of Iowa flavor.

Kemerer and DeVos could actually hit in the second round if they both win their first matches, which is likely. The winner could see North Carolina State's Hayden Hidlay, the 4-seed, in the quarterfinals on Friday morning. That is a gnarly quad.

It gets gnarlier: the winner of the potential Kemerer-Hidlay quarter likely hits Penn State's Carter Starocci, the 1-seed and returning NCAA champ, in the semifinals. Starocci would have to beat the pigtail winner; Cal Poly's Adam Kemp, the 16-seed; then either Labriola or O'Malley in a potential 8-9 matchup in the quarters. Devine could throw a wrench into that if he upsets Labriola in the first round.

Runyon is on the opposite side of the bracket and gets a familiar Big 12 foe in the first round. Mantanona is responsible for two of Runyon's three losses this season. If the third time is the charm for Runyon, he'll likely get Virginia Tech's Mekhi Lewis, the 2-seed, in the second round.

Elsewhere on the bottom side of the bracket: Michigan's Logan Massa is the 3-seed, and could see Cornell's Chris Foca in the second round. Oklahoma State's Dustin Plott is the 6-seed and could see Missouri's Peyton Mocco in round two. Ohio State's Ethan Smith is the 7-seed and could see the potential Lewis-Runyon winner in the quarters.

Northern Iowa's Parker Keckeisen, right, wrestles Iowa State's Marcus Coleman at 184 pounds on Feb. 11.

184 pounds

  • Parker Keckeisen, Northern Iowa — 4-seed, vs. #29 Christopher Weiler (Wisconsin)
  • Marcus Coleman, Iowa State — 8-seed, vs. #25 Michael Battista (Virginia)
  • Abe Assad, Iowa — 18-seed, vs. #15 Hunter Bolen (Virginia Tech)
  • Max Lyon, Purdue — 30-seed, vs. #3 Trent Hidlay (North Carolina State)

Reaction: Coleman and Keckeisen both have favorable paths to the quarterfinals.

If Coleman beats Battista, he'll likely see Illinois's Zac Braunagel in the second round. Win there, he likely gets Michigan's Myles Amine, the 1-seed and Big Ten champ, in the quarters.

Keckeisen is the favorite to get to the semifinals, but he'll have to navigate Weiler, either Maryland's Kyle Cochran or Rutgers' John Poznanski (who he beat for third at last the national tournament last year), then possibly Cal Poly's Bernie Truax in the quarters. If Keckeisen does that, he'll see the Coleman-Amine winner in the semifinals.

Assad and Lyon, a state champ from Western Dubuque, are both on the bottom side, and their draws are pretty tough.

If Assad beats Bolen, he'll likely see Penn State's Aaron Brooks, the 2-seed, in the second round. If he loses, he'll take the long way to the podium. Same with Lyon, who has Hidlay, a returning NCAA finalist, in round one. If the seeds hold, we could see a Brooks-Hidlay semifinal, which would be a rematch of last year's NCAA final.

Iowa State's David Carr, Northern Iowa's Parker Keckeisen win Big 12 titles

Iowa wrestler Jacob Warner celebrates after defeating N.C. State wrestler Nick Reenan last season.

197 pounds

  • Jacob Warner, Iowa — 6-seed, vs. Alan Clothier (Northern Colorado)
  • Yonger Bastida, Iowa State — 10-seed, vs. #23 Braxton Amos (Wisconsin)
  • Tanner Sloan, South Dakota State — 12-seed, vs. #21 Gavin Hoffman (Ohio State)

Reaction: This weight could go any number of ways — which is part of the fun.

Warner has to like his draw. If he beats Clothier, he'll get either Purdue's Thomas Penola or North Dakota State's Owen Pentz. Win those, it's likely Nebraska's Eric Schultz in the quarterfinals. Schultz has beaten Warner three times, but that's a winnable match, and a crucial one to Iowa's team title hopes.

On the same side, Bastida has Amos, a Junior world champ. Win there, he'll likely see Missouri's Rocky Elam, the 7-seed, in the second round. Bastida has beaten Elam twice this season, and if he does it again, he'll see Wyoming's Stephen Buchanan, the 2-seed, in the quarters. The winner there sees the Warner-Schultz winner in the semifinals. 

Sloan, a state champ from Alburnett, is on the top side of the bracket, and could see Pittsburgh's Nino Bonaccorsi, a returning NCAA finalist, in the second round. The winner there likely sees Michigan's Pat Brucki, the 4-seed, in the quarters, then probably Penn State's top-seeded Max Dean in the semifinals. This is another fun weight.

Iowa's Tony Cassioppi, top, wrestles Wisconsin's Trent Hillger at 285 pounds on Saturday.

285 pounds

  • Tony Cassioppi, Iowa — 3-seed, vs. #30 Josh Heindselman (Oklahoma)
  • Sam Schuyler, Iowa State — 24-seed, vs. #9 Lucas Davison (Northwestern)
  • Tyrell Gordon, Northern Iowa — 32-seed, vs. #33 Matthew Cover (Princeton)

Reaction: Gordon's in the pigtail match, and if he wins, he gets Minnesota's Gable Steveson. That's a tough draw. Schuyler could see Steveson in the quarters if he can navigate Davison, then likely Central Michigan's Matt Stencel, the 8-seed, in round two.

Steveson could see either Air Force's Wyatt Hendrickson, the 5-seed and undefeated Big 12 champ, or Penn State's Greg Kerkvliet in the semifinals, the 4-seed who just took third at the Big Ten Championships.

Cassioppi is on the opposite side of Steveson, which gives him a chance to make the NCAA finals. He should have little trouble against Heindselman and then either Illinois' Luke Luffman or Oklahoma State's Luke Surber (he's beaten them both already) in round two.

But Friday could be grueling for Big Cass. He could see Lehigh's Jordan Wood, the 6-seed, in the quarterfinals, then either Michigan's Mason Parris, the 7-seed, or Arizona State's Cohlton Schultz, the 2-seed, in the semifinals. Cassioppi beat Schultz twice at last year's national tournament, but was pinned twice by Parris during the season.

Parris and Schultz have never met, but were both All-Americans last season. Both have had international success, too — Parris was a Junior men's freestyle world champ, Schultz made the Senior Greco-Roman world team. That quarterfinal could be huge for the team race. So will the semifinal if the winner meets Cassioppi.

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