With the loss of Michael Kemerer from the Hawkeyes’ Iineup for the season, Iowa wrestling looks forward to its depth filling in the All-American-size gap.
Kemerer will undergo surgery sometime this week on a knee injury that will sideline him through his junior season.
Last season, while battling injury, Kemerer placed fourth at the NCAA Championships and sixth at Big Tens. At 157 in the last two seasons, he went a combined 60-6 to earn two-straight All-American honors.
Teammate Kaleb Young said Kemerer hurt his knee a couple weeks ago and had been practicing on it, but it seemingly kept getting worse.
Kemerer hadn’t stepped on the mat this season, and now his season is over before it started.
“It’s one of those things where all of our guys want to wrestle, and our medical team is smart, and they’re going to give them every opportunity that way,” head coach Tom Brands said. “The bottom line is when the best decision is what the decision is when we make the decision, then that’s the decision we go with. It’s that simple.
“It is really about doing what’s best for the sons of the parents that are in our program.”
In Iowa’s first four meets, Myles Wilson filled in for Kemerer, and he will fill the spot — barring any major lineup changes — for the remainder of the season.
He has a 2-2 record after dropping his last match to No. 13 Dylan Lydy of Purdue.
“We’ve just got to fill that spot; someone’s got to step up and fill that spot, fill that spot,” Young said. “Wilson has been, but he’s kind of been letting nerves get to him, but I think he’ll be all right.”
Losing Kemerer also comes with a loss in bonus points from the power he brought in his matches last season. Iowa’s healthy returning All-Americans and five other ranked wrestlers in the lineup are important for filling his role outside the weight.
Last week against Purdue, Iowa’s lineup was missing All-Americans Spencer Lee and Sam Stoll, along with Pat Lugo. Jacob Warner was listed on the lineup card but didn’t wrestle.
For Iowa’s Saturday dual against Iowa State, Lee and Lugo are both listed as possible starters with backups, and Jacob Warner is the lone wrestler listed at 197.
Having those three back in the lineup — whenever they return — will be a big step in gaining points back in Kemerer’s absence.
“I think everyone feels that [everyone needs to step up to replace Kemerer],” Young said. “Losing Kemerer is kind of a big hit, but we’ve got a lot of capable guys in the room, a lot of guys who can stand up and maybe make up for the points that we weren’t getting from Kemerer.”
Iowa is seeking a medical hardship waiver to get Kemerer an extra year in an Iowa singlet that would give him two years left instead of just one.
No matter what happens, he’s expected to be ready to go for the 2019-20 season.
“He’s a good kid; he’ll move forward from this,” 184-pounder Cash Wilcke said.
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