By James Geerdes
With a history full of successes, Iowa wrestling does not like to lose. On Jan. 27, Iowa lost, and one bout could have put the score in Tom Brands’ favor.
Michael Kemerer — who boasts a 16-0 record as well as a No. 2 national ranking — did not wrestle on Jan. 27; in his place was sophomore Jaren Glosser. Glosser, although a strong wrestler who has had successes in open tournaments this season, is not the returning All-American Kemerer.
Filling in for Iowa’s big dog, Glosser started off strong against Michigan’s seventh-ranked Alex Pantaleo. The bout was scoreless after the first period, and Glosser earned an escape point in the second while keeping Pantaleo at bay. Going into the third, the Iowa sophomore was up, 1-0.
Then Pantaleo picked up the pace. A reversal put the Wolverine up, 2-1. Glosser escaped, then a Pantaleo takedown as time expired cemented the Iowa loss.
Although Iowa’s lighter weights built a healthy 14-4 lead ahead of Glosser’s match, Iowa fell to Michigan, 19-17, after losing its final four weights.
If Kemerer had wrestled and won, even with a decision, Iowa would have won the dual 20-16.
“That was a winnable dual even without Kemerer,” Brands said. “We had some bonus points, and we needed bonus points. [Brandon] Sorensen and Spencer Lee showed up for bonus points. But we have to get guys more competitive in all positions.”
Kemerer has been more than competitive this season thus far, posting an impressive 16-0 record. But the sophomore has had his plate full the last two weeks. Against Oklahoma State’s Jonce Blaylock, Kemerer won with a 9-2 decision, but his shots slowed in the final period.
Against Ohio State’s Micah Jordan, the No. 6 wrestler in the nation, Kemerer pulled off an 8-4 decision but again slowed in the third.
“[Kemerer’s] healthy. He’s nicked up a little bit — not a big deal,” Brands said. “He probably could have gone. Postseason, it’s a foregone conclusion, he’s going. [Benching Kemerer] is a smart thing to do.”
Even without Iowa’s undefeated sophomore in the lineup, Iowa was projected to win. But after No. 5 Cash Wilcke was upset by No. 14 Kevin Beazley, 6-5, the odds shifted in Michigan’s favor.
The loss was Iowa’s second in as many weeks. Ohio State handed Iowa its first on Jan. 21.
“Tom always tells you that you need to go out there and do what you need to do, and if everyone does what he needs to do … then the team score will come out of that,” Lee said.
Expectations are high for the squad that could potentially post six All-Americans, Kemerer included.
“We’re focusing on building toward the end of the year,” Kemerer said at Iowa’s media day on Oct. 8.
The end of the year is the NCAA Tournament, which Iowa will almost surely qualify for, even with a loss to Michigan.
“Obviously, we lost, and it’s kind of rough,” 165-pounder Alex Marinelli said. “We’re the Iowa Hawkeye wrestling team, you know? We don’t take losses very easily.”