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This time a year ago few, including myself, believed anyone could touch Penn State at the 2020 NCAA Championships. However, by Thanksgiving, the Hawkeyes had overtaken the Nittany Lions and never looked back. Iowa put together a perfect dual campaign, broke the Midlands scoring record, and won the Big Ten Tournament by 25 points. However, due to the cancellation of the NCAA Championships, Iowa was more than likely denied their first NCAA title since 2010.
The good news for the black and gold faithful? All 10 starters return plus the addition of three-time All-American Jaydin Eierman and the second-ranked 2020 recruiting class.
|125||2||Aaron Cashman||Redshirt Sophomore|
This Season: Spencer Lee, next topic. The two-time NCAA champion turned in his most dominant college season last year on his way to winning the Hodge Trophy. Lee will once again enter the season a massive favorite as he tries to win his third NCAA title in as many tries.
Long-Term Outlook: The future of this weight for the Hawkeyes comes from the class of 2021 where Iowa currently owns a commitment from the sixth-ranked wrestler in the class Drake Ayala. I believe Ayala would be ready to wrestle as a true freshman, but if Coach Brands wanted to redshirt Ayala, Aaron Cashman would still be on the roster and likely in the mix to qualify for the NCAA Championships.
|133||2||Gavin Teasdale||Redshirt Sophomore|
This Season: Like Lee, it's hard to believe this is also the final year of college wrestling for Austin DeSanto. It feels like yesterday we were watching DeSanto earn first-period tech falls at Drexel. Despite 133 being a loaded weight class with the return of Daton Fix, Stevan Micic, and possibly Nick Suriano from Olympic redshirt, DeSanto will once again be a heavy favorite to All-American and will be in the mix to be a title contender.
Long-Term Outlook: Gavin Teasdale left high school as the 16th-ranked recruit in the class of 2018, but it's no secret his college career as not gone as planned. Teasdale didn't wrestle a match at Penn State before transferring to Iowa and going 8-4 a year ago at three tournaments. After a redshirt year behind DeSanto, I believe Ybarra and Schriever will battle it out for the starting spot. Schriever probably has a bigger frame to potentially move up if need be.
|141||1||Jaydin Eierman||Redshirt Senior|
|141||2||Carter Happel||Redshirt Senior|
|141||4||Cam Shaver||Redshirt Sophomore|
This Season: It's not often that a wrestler who was in the round of 12 as a freshman and the seven seed at the 2020 NCAA Championships with eligibility remaining isn't considered by most the projected starter the next season. However, that goes to show just how good Jaydin Eierman is. At Missouri, Eierman was a three-time All-American and if Yianni does move up to 149, he will begin the season as the nation's top-ranked wrestler.
Long-Term Outlook: Like 125, I believe the future of this weight for the Hawkeyes is possibly with a wrestler who is committed in the class of 2021. Iowa currently owns a verbal commitment from the 18th-ranked wrestler on the Junior Big Board, Wyatt Henson. The son of Sammie Henson will be a true freshman next season and won a Pennsylvania state title last year at 138 over Virginia Tech signee, Sam Hillegas. I believe Henson could be ready to go right out of the gates. The question is if he will outgrow 141.
|149||1||Max Murin||Redshirt Junior|
|149||2||Zach Axmear||Redshirt Junior|
|149||4||Cobe Siebrecht||Redshirt Freshman|
This Season: With Pat Lugo gone, this opens the door for Max Murin to put on some size and move up to 149 where he debuts at #7 in our preseason rankings. Murin should undoubtedly be the man here for his final two years of eligibility for the Hawkeyes.
Long-Term Outlook: After the graduation of Murin, the torch could be passed to Bretli Reyna. Another South Dade, Florida prospect like Pat Lugo, Reyna was a four-time Florida state champion and got the nation's attention last fall at Super 32 when he beat FloNationals champion Joey Zargo, Pennsylvania state champion Ed Scott, and pound-for-pound member Josh Saunders to bring home the belt. Two weeks after his impressive performance in Greensboro he committed to the Hawkeyes. Henson will definitely be in the mix here as well if he is no longer able to hold 141.
|157||1||Kaleb Young||Redshirt Senior|
|157||2||Joe Kelly||Redshirt Sophomore|
This Season: Kaleb Young is back for his senior season and hoping to return to the form of his junior year when he finished fifth at the NCAA Championships and beat current #1, Ryan Deakin, twice. Young won 24 matches his junior season, but last year had just 15 wins heading to the ultimately canceled NCAA Tournament and went 0-2 at the Big Ten Championships. Which version of Young will we see in his final year in black and gold?
Long-Term Outlook: As I mentioned above, Reyna could eventually grow into 157, but if he does not, the Hawkeyes will have options. Iowa currently owns a commitment from the 31st-ranked wrestler in the class of 2021, Caleb Rathjen, and despite winning an Iowa state title at 138 in February, he recently was much bigger at the Green Country camp in Oklahoma and said he wants to get bigger.
|165||1||Alex Marinelli||Redshirt Senior|
|165||2||Danny Murphy||Redshirt Senior|
This Season: All about The Bull. For the second consecutive season, Alex Marinelli won a Big Ten title and earned the #1 seed at the NCAA Championships. While Marinelli won't start the year as the nation's top-ranked wrestler since NCAA champion Mekhi Lewis is back from Olympic redshirt, he will be a heavy favorite to be wrestling Saturday night on the big stage next March in St. Louis.
Long-Term Outlook: I'll talk a good bit about Patrick Kennedy in a second, but it looks like to me that the third-ranked recruit in the class of 2020 will be too big for 165 which means the Hawkeyes will need some help here as well. Like 157, no signees in the class of 2020 or verbal commits in the class of 2021, project as 165-pounders. We could see Nelson Brands return to the weight where he went 18-0 at his redshirt year.
|174||1||Michael Kemerer||Redshirt Senior|
|174||3||Myles Wilson||Redshirt Junior|
|174||4||Tristan McDonald||Redshirt Senior|
This Season: It has been a little over a month since Michael Kemerer received the good news that he was granted a sixth year of eligibility. With the graduation of Mark Hall, Kemerer begins the season as the nation's top-ranked wrestler. Much like Lee, DeSanto, Eierman, and Marinelli, Kemerer gives Iowa another title contender.
Long-Term Outlook: When Kennedy first committed to Iowa nearly two years ago, it was thought he could he possibly go 165 for at least a portion of his college career. However, after wrestling the postseason at 182, it looks like those days are in the past. If Kemerer didn't receive a sixth year, I believe Kennedy would have been ready to go out of the gate, but now will have the luxury to redshirt and spend a year furthering developing with practice partners like Marinelli and Kemerer.
|184||2||Nelson Brands||Redshirt Sophomore|
This Season: I think after last season it's clear that Abe Assad is the best option for Iowa at 184, but having Nelson Brands could allow the Hawkeyes to redshirt Assad if they wanted to. However, the Hawkeye are hungry for an NCAA title and I believe Coach Brands is going to wrestle the lineup that gives them the best chance to win like they did last year when they pulled Assad's redshirt after Midlands. Assad was 22-7 on the year, the 11 seed for the NCAA Championships, and begins the year ranked #9 in our preseason rankings.
Long-Term Outlook: Assad is the long-term outlook here as well with three years of eligibility remaining. I doubt we see Brands stay at this weight after this year as Kemerer and Marinelli will be gone and allow him to move back down to a more natural weight.
|197||1||Jacob Warner||Redshirt Junior|
|197||2||Zach Glazier||Redshirt Freshman|
|197||3||Cade Brownlee||Redshirt Senior|
|197||5||Connor Corbin||Redshirt Junior|
This Season: Another returning All-American that will be a title contender next March St. Louis. Warner begins the year ranked fifth and owns wins in the past over #4 Eric Schultz and fell in overtime to #3 Jay Aiello at Midlands last season.
Long-Term Outlook: Two-time Iowa state champion and top-50 recruit in the class of 2020, Gabe Christensen, and Zach Glazier, who is coming off an outstanding redshirt season, will battle to replace now two-time NCAA All-American, Jacob Warner.
|285||1||Anthony Cassioppi||Redshirt Sophomore|
|285||2||Aaron Costello||Redshirt Junior|
This Season: Big Tone was as advertised last season for the Hawkeyes spending almost all of the year ranked in the top five and beating All-Americans Trent Hillger and Matt Stencel along the way. He'll once again be amongst the nation's elite.
Long-Term Outlook: While Cassioppi will undoubtedly be the man over the next three years, his replacement is not currently on the roster or verbally committed. I doubt we see the Hawkeyes sign a heavyweight in the class of 2021, but instead in the class of 2022 where they could get their future big man and ensure they get a year in the practice to redshirt and get ready for college wrestling.
Keep it locked on FloWrestling all month as we continue to roll out depth chart breakdowns for the nation's top D1 programs and also take a look at the high school wrestlers they are targeting.