2022 MidCals

Way Too Early Lineup Look: 2022-2023 Iowa Hawkeyes

Way Too Early Lineup Look: 2022-2023 Iowa Hawkeyes

A breakdown of what Iowa's team trophy lineup could look like next season.

Apr 4, 2022 by JD Rader
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There was a lot of talk about how much firepower the Iowa Hawkeyes would be losing in 2022-2023 with the departure of Austin Desanto, Jaydin Eierman, Kaleb Young, Alex Marinelli, and Michael Kemerer. However, a huge return of a 3X national champion, national title contender transfer, and some key upperclassmen that have been on a title-winning team will keep the Hawks in the trophy contention hunt.

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There was a lot of talk about how much firepower the Iowa Hawkeyes would be losing in 2022-2023 with the departure of Austin Desanto, Jaydin Eierman, Kaleb Young, Alex Marinelli, and Michael Kemerer. However, a huge return of a 3X national champion, national title contender transfer, and some key upperclassmen that have been on a title-winning team will keep the Hawks in the trophy contention hunt.

2022-23 Iowa Projected Starting Lineup

125: Spencer Lee

133: Cullan Schriever

141: Real Woods

149: Max Murin

157: Bretli Reyna / Caleb Rathjen

165: Patrick Kennedy

174: Nelson Brands

184: Abe Assad

197: Jacob Warner

285: Anthony Cassioppi

125: Spencer Lee, SR

The return. One of the most dominant wrestlers in NCAA history was sidelined this year while undergoing rehab from double ACL surgery. Drake Ayala stepped up for the Hawkeyes at 125 lbs qualifying for NCAAs despite getting injured himself. 

Assuming Lee is healthy upon returning, he will be the heavy favorite to win the 2023 125 lb NCAA title and become just the fifth 4X NCAA champion in history. This will allow Ayala to use his redshirt and become healthy before he once again assumes the starting role.

Listen to Tom Brands talk about Spencer Lee’s season-ending surgery below.

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133: Cullan Schriever, SO

A 3X Iowa state champion and 2X Fargo state champion coming out of high school, Cullan Schriever now has two full seasons of training in Iowa City under his belt. Unable to beat Desanto, however, Schriever has only competed in opens and select duals. 

A product of Sebolt Wrestling Academy, Schriever went 15-5 this season only losing to national qualifiers. His best win of the year came over in-state rival Kyle Biscoglia, who is ranked #16 on the insanely early 2023 NCAA ranking, of UNI.

Watch Schriever beat Biscoglia in the UNI Open finals below.

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141: Real Woods, SR

The transfer that shook the wrestling world this past weekend: Real Woods to Iowa. 

For the fourth-straight year, Iowa will have a national title contending transfer as the starter at 141 lbs. And with the departure of Eierman, Nick Lee, Sebastian Rivea, Kizhan Clarke, and others,  Real Woods absolutely will be a title contender next year. He’s currently #3 in the way too early 2023 NCAA rankings behind Grant Willits and Cole Matthews. 

This transfer caused freshman Wyatt Henson, who was expected to be the starter, to enter the transfer portal.

Look for Woods on the Bader Show Wednesday to get all the details behind the transfer!

149: Max Murin, SR

Max Murin will enter his final year of Iowa wrestling as a four-time national qualifier, but zero-time All-American. To make matters worse, the Ebensburg, PA native is a 3X bloodround loser and was the #7 seed in 2020 before NCAAs were canceled. Murin is sure to come into his sixth year as motivated as ever.

A podium finish for Murin won’t be easy, however, as everyone who finished the year ranked ahead of him has eligibility remaining except Tariq Wilson. He’s currently ranked #8 in the way too early 2023 NCAA rankings. What do you think, can he finally crack the podium?

Watch the highlights of Murin’s victory over Oklahoma’s Kaden Gfellar at NCAAs below.

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157: Bretli Reyna, SO / Caleb Rathjen, FR

157 lbs will be the biggest question mark weight heading into next season for the Hawkeyes and potentially the biggest hole in their lineup. 157 has been Kaleb Young’s spot for the past four years. The two main guys I could see stepping into the spot were both 149 pounders this year that will have to move up: Bretli Reyna and/or Caleb Rathjen.

Both of these wrestlers were decent recruits coming out of high school: Rathjen, from Ankeny, Iowa, was #33 on the 2021 big board and Reyna, out of Homestead, Florida, was #60 on the 2020 big board. Rathjen saw limited action this year as a redshirt going just 4-1 with a loss to high schooler Cody Chittum. Reyna wrestled in one more open but went just 6-2 on the year.

One other possible scenario is incoming true freshman Joel Jesuroga could get the start. The Southeast Polk native wrapped up his prep career this year at 145 lbs.

165: Patrick Kennedy, SO

Patrick Kennedy was an extremely highly touted recruit coming out of high school in 2020. If it wasn’t for Alex Marinelli, Kennedy would have started for sure this season and possibly the year before as a true freshman as well.

Kennedy proved this year that while he might be just shy of Marinelli’s level, he can still run with the big dogs. The Minnesota native went 17-3 with all three losses coming by two points or less to national qualifiers Marinelli, Peyton Hall, and William Formato. Some of his best wins this year came over Cael Carlson, Grant Stotts, RJ Mosley, Caleb Fish, and Isaac Judge.

Watch Kennedy and Marinelli’s one-point match from the Luther Open below.

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174: Nelson Brands, SR

After spending the 2020-2021 season up at 184 lbs, Brands moved back down to a more natural weight of 174 confusing some Hawkeye fans as this was Michael Kemerer’s spot. Kemerer did ultimately end up being the guy after Brands spent the first half of the season as the starter. 

At 184 lbs Brands went 8-6 with a 1-2 performance at the national tournament. In my opinion, Brands has a higher ceiling at 174 lbs. At the lower weight, Brands is easily a multiple win at nationals type of guy and fighting for a low spot on the podium.

184: Abe Assad, JR

The reason Brands wasn’t the 184 lbs starter this season: Abe Assad. The Illinois native put together a solid true freshman campaign in 2019-2020, going 22-7 and earning the 11-seed at NCAAs. This season, Assad went 14-10 including 1-2 at NCAAs. He’s currently #17 on the way too early rankings.

Watch Abe Assad takeout Max Lyon at the 2020 Big Ten tournament below.

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197: Jacob Warner, SR

With all of the big names moving on, it’s interesting to note that Iowa’s lone NCAA finalist from this year is still returning. Out of the six seed, Warner beat Alan Clothier, Thomas Penola, Eric Schultz, and Stephen Buchanan en route to Saturday night. This was Warner’s best performance at the NCAA Championships yet. Prior to that Warner took 4th in 2021, was the five-seed in 2020, and placed 7th in 2019. Unfortunately for Iowa fans, 2022 champion Max Dean and 2021 champion AJ Ferrari are expected to be in the field next year.

Watch Jacob Warner make the NCAA finals with a win over Stephen Buchanan below.

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285: Anthony Cassioppi, SR

Anthony Cassioppi has been the closer for the Hawks the past three years and that’s not going to change next year. With the departure of Gable Steveson, Cassioppi instantly becomes a title contender. After taking 7th place this year, Cass definitely isn’t the odds-on-favorite, but for sure a title contender. After all, he’s undefeated against runner-up Cohlton Schultz in his career.

Watch Cassioppi beat Cohlton Schultz twice at the 2021 NCAA Championships below.

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