MSU wrestling goes down to Hawkeyes


MSU wrestler Drew Hughes/ Photo Credit: MSU Athletic Communications

Nathan Stearns, Women's Basketball/Field Hockey Beat Reporter

EAST LANSING — For Michigan State, Sunday’s matchup against the No. 1 Iowa Hawkeyes served as a golden opportunity to mount a gargantuan upset and resurrect what has been a disappointing season. 

The Spartans came into the contest with a 1-5 conference record and were looking to notch a memorable upset in their final home dual meet of the season against the undefeated Hawkeyes. 

Unfortunately for the Green and White, they were unable to win their final home meet of the season, as they were vanquished by a final of 31-3 at the hands of Iowa.

“One of the things I told my guys in the locker room after the dual meet is that they are the benchmark program,” said Michigan State coach Roger Chandler. “Iowa wrestles hard and they wrestle through every position. After having a duel like this, you learn a lot of things individually.”

Cam Caffey would deliver the only victory of the match for the Spartans in the 184-pound class, as he knocked off No. 6 Abe Assad by a 3-2 final.

“That kid (Assad) beat one of my teammates in the state finals a couple years ago and also beat my brother at Greco State three or four years ago,” said Caffey. “It was a big redemption thing for all of the homies back at home.”

After the victory, Caffey’s confidence in himself is brimming.

“I go into every match expecting to thrash my opponent, even if I only end up winning by one point,” Caffey said.

After collecting a 19-17 victory over No. 2 Penn State, the Hawkeyes showed no signs of slowing down early, as they jumped ahead 12-0 early behind the strength of Spencer Lee, Paul Glynn, Carter Happel, Pat Lugo, Assad and the entire vaunted Iowa starting lineup.

Iowa’s junior sensation Lee had another exceptional performance early with a quick defeat over Spartan senior Logan Griffin. Lee knocked out Griffin by fall at the 2:21 mark in the first period.

Coming into Sunday’s contest, Lee was ranked No. 11 in the 125-pound weight class, as he had outscored his last six opponents by a whopping 100-2 margin.

After falling behind 2-0 going into the third period, Glynn used a late takedown to defeat Garrett Pepple, 9-4 in the second individual matchup of the afternoon.

Matt Santos wouldn’t fare any better for the Green and White, as he was defeated by a final of 4-1 at the hands of Happel. 

Lugo would continue the Hawkeyes’ hot streak going, with a three period defeat over Alex Hrisopoulos by an 8-3 final.  Going into the 157-pound matchup, MSU found itself trailing Iowa 15-0.

In what was perhaps the most anticipated individual match of the meet, talented Spartan junior No. 15 Jake Tucker squared off against No. 5 Kaleb Young. Young would live up to his ranking with a 6-2 victory.  

MSU would find itself in a rather large 18-0 hole at half, after the Tucker loss.

Needing a quick win to build some momentum, Drew Hughes was tasked with trying to knock off Jeremiah Moody in the 165-pound match. In what was a synopsis of the entire afternoon, Hughes would be soundly disposed of by a final of 9-5. 

No. 2 ranked Michael Kemerer would push the Hawkeyes’ lead to 24-0, as he vanquished Layne Malczewski by a 13-3 margin. With only three matches left, MSU was still looking for its first win of the meet.

It would be No. 15 Caffey who would finally get MSU off the schneid with an impressive victory over No. 6 Assad by a 3-2 margin. In what was an otherwise forgettable performance for the Green and White, Caffey acted as the lone bright spot of the meet.

“Cam can be a national champion and he knows it,” said Chandler. “If Cam dictates his ties and his attacks, instead of reacting to his opponent, you will see the tip of the iceberg.” 

Jacob Warner would get the Hawkeyes back on track with a wire-to-wire 5-2 victory over Nick May.

The Hawkeyes would put a cherry on top of their dominant performance with a victory in the heavyweight matchup. Tony Cassioppi crushed Christian Rebottaro by a 10-0 margin. All in all, MSU would only muster one individual victory against Iowa. 

Despite what the scoreboard showed, Chandler was encouraged with the effort given by the Spartans.

“Two years ago, we wrestled an Iowa team that wasn’t nearly as good as this and we got destroyed,” Chandler said. “Two years later we competed well against a team that was twice as good.”

With the loss, MSU drops to 6-8 and 1-6 in conference action. The Spartans will be looking to snap their three-game skid when they travel to Evanston and take on the Northwestern Wildcats on Friday, Feb. 7 at 7 p.m.

Contact Nathan Stearns at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @NathanStearns11.