Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!
Already a subscriber? Log In
For Iowa wrestling, finishing the 2020-21 season on the NCAA team leaderboard starts now.
With a shortened season – an official timeline and schedule have yet to be announced – unaffiliated competition will be the key to repeating the success the Hawkeyes had in 2019-20. Nine of 10 starters from last season are returning, with the addition of three-time All-American transfer Jaydin Eierman to the lineup.
Of the nine returning wrestlers, eight earned automatic berths to the NCAA Championships following the conference tournament in early March, with Kaleb Young at 157 pounds earning an at-large bid.
The Hawkeyes battled their way to the #1 spot in the nation after a dual win over Penn State and a first-place finish at the Big Ten Championships. But for a win at NCAAs, the Hawkeyes will no doubt be more dominant with their lineup at full-strength, in prime season form.
Based on the results from last season, the trajectory each athlete took and how competition has gone so far, here’s a breakdown of who the Hawkeyes will have to keep a closer eye on to be at their best when the season matters most.
Following a tough injury-default loss to Roman Bravo-Young at the end of January 2020, DeSanto’s season waivered to a fourth-place finish in the Big Ten tournament.
Similarly, his performance at U23 a week ago started out strong but fell towards the end, landing him in the same spot he ended a coronavirus-shortened 2019-20 season. He defeated Todd Small and Dominic La joie, 23-3 combined, and cruised up through his first match on the second day.
The key for DeSanto is to keep his head on the competition and his emotions in check, which has been the storyline for almost his entire Hawkeye career. That was much of the story in his dual loss to Bravo-Young and could be a learning lesson following an upset at the hands of Michael Colaiocco in Day 2 of U23.
Penn’s former 125-pounder, up a weight from last season, came back from a 2-0 deficit to defeat DeSanto 8-5.
DeSanto finds success when he focuses his mentality on a goal – he famously beat Spencer Lee in their senior year of high school to keep the two-time NCAA champion from winning four Pennsylvania high school titles – and can help carry the Hawkeyes in the regular season when he does just that.
Young’s 2019-20 season was similar to DeSanto’s, with a much starker contrast. He won the Midlands Championships with impressive wins and finished the season 15-5 with six wins over ranked opponents.
At the Big Ten Championships, however, Young lost back-to-back matches to be left off the podium without a win in the tournament. His start to the season carried him, and a 9-0 record in conference duals led to an at-large bid to NCAAs as the No. 8 seed.
Young’s path to a runner-up finish at U23 featured only one ranked wrestler, but he won the matches that he was expected to win, and that’s a plus for Young.
Watch Young defeat Drexel's Parker Kropman to advance to the U23 Nationals semifinals:
If he can keep his intensity throughout matches – and throughout a shortened college season – the Hawkeyes could be even stronger than they were in 2019-20.
Anna attended the University of Iowa, where she covered multiple sports from volleyball to football to wrestling. She went to Pittsburgh in March 2019 for the NCAA DI Wrestling Championships and did live coverage of the entire event and Spencer Lee’s second-straight NCAA title. Follow her on Twitter.