photo courtesy of Nic Ryder; IAWrestle.com
This week’s College Wrestler of the Week award goes to Iowa’s Michael Kemerer. Without a doubt, the most exciting match of the evening, during the highly-anticipated dual between top-ranked Iowa and #2 Penn State, came at 174 lb weight class where a pair of undefeated combatants, #1 Mark Hall and Kememer squared off. Kemerer survived an early throw attempt by Hall and not only avoided going to his back, but also did not surrender a takedown and even earned one himself. The Hawk led after a busy opening stanza, 5-4, by getting a reversal in the final six seconds of the period. Leading 7-6 after two, Kemerer escaped and managed to fend off an incredible ankle pick attempt by Hall, which accounted for the best scoring opportunity for the Nittany Lion wrestler in the final period. Kemerer managed a takedown in all three periods and added a point for riding time to unseat the previously unbeaten Hall. The loss was only the second dual defeat of Hall’s career, the first also coming in Carver-Hawkeye Arena as a true freshman to Alex Meyer. Kemerer’s win also was the difference-maker, from a team standpoint, as the Hawkeyes held off PSU, 19-17.
Kemerer’s work for the weekend was not finished on Friday night as he and his Hawkeye teammates traveled to East Lansing, Michigan, to take on the Michigan State Spartans yesterday. Kemerer stayed perfect with a 13-3 major decision victory over #24 Layne Malczewski. His last six wins have all come against ranked opponents and his major decision brings his bonus point percentage up to a nice, round 50%. Two of Kemerer’s ten matches have ended in majors, while two others were techs, mixed in with a fall. The flawless weekend will help Michael ascend to the top spot in the national rankings for the first time in his career. Kemerer was a two-time NCAA All-American at 157 lbs and was planning on moving up to 174 before an injury derailed his 2018-19 campaign. Since his return, Kemerer has shown no ill effects and is better than ever.
For Kemerer to maintain his perfect record, he’ll need to get by a pair of All-Americans to end the season. After a dual with Michigan on Saturday, Kemerer will likely face Minnesota’s Devin Skatzka on 2/15 and Oklahoma State’s Joseph Smith on 2/23. Both Smith and Kemerer faced off during the 2016-17 season at 157 lbs and it was Kemerer who prevailed both times, the most recent coming in the 2017 NCAA consolation finals.