Iowa 157-pounder Michael Kemerer looks to take down Michigan State's Austin Thompson during the Iowa-Michigan State duel at Jenison Field House in East Lansing on Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017. Kemerer defeated Thompson with a major decision of 10-2. The Hawkeyes defeated the Spartans, 44-0. (The Daily Iowan/Margaret Kispert)

Wrestlers head for a dual in Pennsylvania

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By Courtney Baumann | courtney-baumann@uiowa.edu

Iowa wrestling’s dual season is just about over, but it has one more trip before the Big Ten Tournament in the beginning of March.

The Hawkeyes are traveling to Edinboro, Pennsylvania, where they will take on No. 23 Edinboro in the National Duals.

Set up in a bowl-like format, a committee takes the top eight teams from the Big Ten and pairs them with the champions of eight other Division-1 conferences, not including the Pac-12.

The format changed rather recently. The new setup was developed in 2015, with the first run occurring last year at the end of the season.

Last year, all eight national duals were held at Big Ten schools. This year, the Big Ten will travel.

Iowa wrestling head coach Tom Brands has not been quiet about his distaste for the newer National Duals format.

“I think that we need to focus on things that matter in wrestling. I think that the National Duals are not what’s wrong with wrestling,” Brands said. “We need to focus on the rules that are simple, that reward simple aggressive wrestling, and we need to start a Division-1 program at a Power-5 conference school … You start a women’s sport along with it, the headlines will go on for months.”

Nevertheless, the Hawkeyes are dealing with it and hopping on a bus for the nearly 10-hour trip to Edinboro.

It will be a welcome trip for redshirt freshman Michael Kemerer, who hails from Pennsylvania. In fact, the college is just more than 100 miles north of Kemerer’s hometown.

Kemerer was a state champion his senior year of high school and a three-time state runner-up, so he had his fair share of recruiters watching him from schools in the area, including Edinboro.

He always knew he wanted to go to Iowa, though, and that has made it difficult for his friends and family back home to watch him wrestle. It will be much easier for them to watch him compete on Saturday.

“It’s not something that was expected, really … To see that just adds something to it,” Kemerer said. “It’s good for my family and people who have supported me; they’re already talking about coming to the dual.”

In a way, it’s a homecoming of sorts for Iowa senior Thomas Gilman, too. Gilman made his career début in a dual meet in 2013 in McComb Field House.

As usual, Gilman made a statement by winning his first dual as a Hawkeye by major decision over No. 17 Kory Mines, 12-3. Sammy Brooks also earned his first dual victory as a Hawkeye that night with a major decision at 197 pounds.

Iowa, which was ranked No. 3 at the time, eked out a 22-19 victory over No. 15 Edinboro.

“We got punched in the mouth,” Gilman said. “They were fired up in there. It was loud. It’s a small arena, but they packed it up. They didn’t like us. I’m sure they remember that, and I’m sure they want to turn that around.”

Gilman will face No. 9 Sean Russell for the first time of his career. The sophomore is 28-5 this season, and that does not matter at all to Gilman.

“It’s just another victim. I’ve had 23 of them so far, what’s one more?” Gilman said. “He’s standing across the line from me, he’s trying to take what I want, so I gotta go out there and put him down hard.”

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