Cassioppi finishes third in nation, helps Iowa secure team National Championship

Big 10 Sports

Minnesota’s Gable Steveson, left, takes on Iowa’s Tony Cassioppi during their 285-pound match in the semifinal round of the NCAA wrestling championships Friday, March 19, 2021, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

ST. LOUIS, MO. – The University of Iowa wrestling team clinched the 2021 NCAA Championships team title Saturday afternoon following the medal round of the national tournament in the Enterprise Center.

Iowa leads the team race with 125 points heading into Saturday night’s finals. Penn State is in second with 97.5 points. Oklahoma State is in third with 95.5. Neither the Nittany Lions or Cowboys have enough scoring opportunities Saturday night to catch the Hawkeyes, who have won the NCAA team title for the 24th time in program history, their first since 2010.

Iowa created enough separation from the field to clinch the team title during Saturday’s medal round. The Hawkeyes won six-of-seven matches and scored bonus points in two bouts, getting a technical fall from Austin DeSanto and major decision from Tony Cassioppi. Both wrestlers went 2-0 Saturday to earn third-place finishes at 133 and 285. The bonus-point wins were Iowa’s 20th and 21st of the tournament.

“Our team came out and faced some adversity but to still pull it out and be scoring as many points as we are and be wrestling as hard we are is awesome,” Cassioppi said.

Cassioppi won a pair of matches Saturday by a combined score of 13-0. He was 5-1 competing in his first NCAA tournament, outscoring his opponents 37-2 in his five wins and winning three times by major decision.

“I feel good. It’s the next best thing I could get,” Cassioppi said. “I don’t’ want to be third place. I want to be first place, but after the loss in the semis I had to refocus on getting the next best thing and climbing that podium.”

DeSanto won two matches Saturday on the back side of the 133-pound bracket. He finished his tournament 5-1 overall with four bonus-point wins, outscoring his opponents 67-17.

“I was letting it go and believing in myself, believing in my coaching staff and believing in everyone else around me,” DeSanto said. “I know no matter what my teammates and coaches love me, win or lose, and that’s a great thing to have behind you.”

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