Freshman Michael Kemerer Bounces Back for Third at National Tournament

ST. LOUIS – It was not the finish redshirt freshman Michael Kemerer wanted in his first NCAA National Tournament but the Hawkeye showed grit when he battled back to finish in third place at 157 lbs. Kemerer entered as the #2 seed having a (27-2) season record finishing second in the BIG 10 with his only defeats coming at the hands of fellow Pennsylvania wrestler Jason Nolf.

Many expected to see a re-match between the two former training partners at Young Guns but Cornell’s #7 seed Dylan Palacio stopped Kemerer in his tracks in the quarterfinals when he hit a peterson in the second period and was able to secure a surprising fall. It is difficult to come back from a defeat such as the one Kemerer suffered but the mental toughness he has displayed throughout his wrestling career was apparent in St. Louis.

While speaking with Michael following the medal ceremony we reminisced about his time at Franklin Regional High School. In four years competing for the Panthers Kemerer was a 4-time PIAA State Finalist but it took him to his senior season to claim the elusive State Championship.

As a freshman in 2012 Kemerer fell in the 106 lbs. finals to Parkland’s Ethan Lizak who in 2017 was a NCAA National Runner-up at 125 lbs. As a sophomore he fell in the 126 lbs. finals to Canon-McMillan’s Connor Schram who in 2017 was a National Qualifier and returning NCAA All-American. His junior season at 138 lbs. Michael advanced into his third straight PIAA State Finals against his WPIAL rival Vincenzo Joseph. The two battled into sudden victory when Joseph was able to fight of a takedown and pin Kemerer. In 2017 Vincenzo Joseph just happened to pin another wrestler, Isaiah Martinez, in the NCAA Finals to become a National Champion. It wasn’t until Kemerer’s senior season when he knocked off Cumberland Valley wrestler Patrick Duggan in the 145 lbs. finals to win the 2015 State Championship.

It is safe to say Kemerer knows how to bounce back from a tough defeat. After his loss to Palacio the Hawkeye held nothing back collecting three wins all by major decision in the consolations including a (10-1) win over #4 seed Tyler Berger (Wisconsin).

“Obviously I would have liked to finish on top of the stand but it was good to battle back and get the next best thing. At that point it was the best I could do .”

In the third place bout Kemerer took on returning All-American Joe Smith (Oklahoma State) and after exchanging escapes the two remained tied (1-1) after regulation. In sudden victory Michael pushed the action connecting on a takedown just 11 seconds into overtime and taking Smith to his back winning (7-1 SV-1).  

Although third place wasn’t what Michael wanted to leave St. Louis with it was the best finish for a Hawkeye freshman since Matt McDonough in 2010.


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