The final issue of the 2019-2020 wrestling season is in the books! It's been a trying spring with the cancellations of the Division I, II and III NCAA Tournaments. The lack of tournaments to cover made for a short tournament issue. The Predicament's national tournament issue has been combined this year with the end of the season academic issue.
We did get in a couple national tournaments. Grand View won a record ninth consecutive NAIA title. This tied Iowa's string of nine consecutive NCAA Division I titles. Grand View won by 72.5 points over Menlo, CA in crowning two national champions in Rodriguez-Spencer and Evan Hansen. This was Evan's fourth national title and he became the first four timer in Grand View history, as well as the eighth four time national champion in NAIA history. Hansen defeated Isaac Bartel in the finals for the second year in a row. Bartel is a former Mason City prep wrestling at Montana State Northern.
The NJCAA Tournament was also in the books before the cancellations took effect. Iowa Western was the highest finisher of the Iowa Junior Colleges that was held in Council Bluffs. They had three finalists and a champion in Isaiah Crosby. You will have to read the article by Matt Levins on this young man from Florida. In winning the 285 title, Iowa Central had a champion in Boone McDermott. He just recently signed to continue his academic and wrestling career at Rutgers. All five of the Iowa junior colleges finished in the top thirteen in the country.
After these two national tournaments, everyone was looking forward to the NCAA National Tournaments. The Division III national tournament was scheduled to be held in Cedar Rapids. With so many Division III schools in Iowa and with so many wrestlers from Iowa competing in this tournament, it had the makings of being a great draw. And so close to home for so many fans! The team race may have had as many as five teams in the hunt for a national title.
The Division II tournament was scheduled to be held the same weekend in Sioux Falls, SD. Upper Iowa had the makings of a very strong tournament run.
In the Division I tournament, the Iowa schools had four number one seeds. Spencer Lee, Pat Lugo and Alex Marinelli for Iowa and Taylor Lujan for Northern Iowa. Wouldn't it have been a great season for Northern Iowa if they had another champion or at least finalist for the second year in a row? Iowa State had a strong finish and continues to improve with each passing year under the direction of Kevin Dresser. What a season Iowa had! The crowds in Carver were loud. The Iowa versus Penn State dual was as loud as I had ever heard that arena. As far as the national tournament, we could only anticipate some possible rematches. How about Marinelli versus Joseph? Or Kemerer vs Hall? What others throughout the tournament might we have seen? How would freshman Cassioppi do? Assad? I guess we can only speculate. It's also too bad we didn't see Spencer Lee go for a third title. It was recently announced that he received the AAU James E. Sullivan Award as Sportsman of the Year. He not only was a dominant wrestler, but also a true gentleman.
Also a heartfelt tribute to Dan McCool who passed away suddenly on May 4, 2020. He was a former Des Moines Register sports writer and later, an author of several wrestling history books. I have said many times, that he had probably forgotten more things than I would ever remember, and I don't think he forgot very much! He was a wealth of knowledge. The IWCOA started the Dan McCool Media Award a couple years ago to honor Iowa journalists. I will miss Dan's wit and wisdon and encouragement.
And lastly, this will be the last E-edition of The Predicament. We will still have all of the news articles and everything else, it will just be all on line. I will still have most of this free, but some of it will be on the full access part of The Predicament. It is only $20.00 per year, which is basically to help with website costs. To all, have a wonderful summer and we will see you soon.
Let's Keep Wrestling on the Move