Heading into the NCAA Big Ten Championship tournament, the University of Iowa was the clear favorite in the team race. When mats cleared Sunday afternoon, the Hawkeyes cemented their second straight Big Ten tournament title, with Tom Brands’ program outpacing host Penn State University 157–121. Spencer Lee (125 lbs.) Jayden Eierman (141 lbs.) Alex Marinelli (165 lbs.) and Michael Kemerer (174 lbs.) won individual titles for the Hawkeyes. All eyes were on the Heavyweight division, which featured seven wrestlers ranked in the top 20, including the top three seeds.
Three years ago incoming freshmen, Tony Cassioppi and Mason Parris met at the Junior Freestyle Championships in Fargo, N.D. Cassioppi, already a two-time Fargo champion, defeated Parris by a 10-point technical decision on his way toward his third of four Fargo titles.
Cassioppi, a two-time Illinois state champion, joined up with the renowned Hawkeyes recently. Parris, a three-time Indiana state champion, enrolled at the University of Michigan. Under the tutelage of Wolverine head coach Sean Bormet, Parris became a Junior World Champion in 2019. The two have been ranked 2nd (Parris) and 3rd (Cassioppi) in the nation and met again in the semifinal round.
— Michigan On BTN (@MichiganOnBTN) March 7, 2021
In a shocking turn, Parris pinned Cassioppi less than one-minute into their match. Even more surprising is this was the second time the Wolverine super-sophomore has pinned Cassioppi this season. However, waiting for Parris in the finals was the University of Minnesota’s Gable Steveson.
Steveson won four state titles in Minnesota and a Cadet World Championship in Freestyle. The Gopher’s top grappler is in the conversation with Spencer Lee for the nation’s best wrestler. Steveson, who placed 3rd in the NCAAs as a freshman, was the top-seed in the 2020 tournament before the emerging COVID-19 forced them to cancel the event. In the months leading up to the match, Parris accused Steveson of “running” from him on Twitter.
It was nice seeing you tonight.. 👋🏽 https://t.co/xGMpN9cgVq
— Gable Steveson (@GSteveson) March 8, 2021
The top two seeds in the Big Ten and the top two heavyweights in the country closed out the tournament. In the final match, Steveson dominated Parris 12–4, securing a major decision.
"I shoot, I score. He shoots, I score."
— Minnesota Wrestling (@GopherWrestling) March 9, 2021
Gable Steveson is the latest in a long line of dominant Gopher heavyweights, like two-time NCAA Champions Tony Nelson & Cole Konrad, plus Brock Lesnar, who won his lone championship in 2000.
Steveson, Parris, and Cassoppi, who finished 3rd in the Big Ten, should carry over their respective rankings into the NCAA Division I National Championships March 18-20th in St. Louis, MO.