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#FreestyleFriday: HWC Showdown Open main card preview

By Mike Willis, USA Wrestling | Oct. 30, 2020, 4:50 p.m. (ET)

Photo of two-time World bronze medalist Nick Gwaizdowski. He will take on Iowa's redshirt sophomore Anthony Cassioppi on Sunday.

Yesterday we previewed the HWC Showdown Open’s eight undercard matches. Today, we’ll dive into the nine matches that make up the main card. While the undercard will be streamed for free on TrackWrestling starting at 4 pm CST, the main card can be purchased for $29.95 and kicks off at 6 pm CST.

Sarah Hildebrandt vs. Erin Golston
The main card opens with a fantastic matchup between World Team member Sarah Hildebrandt and former National Team member Erin Golston.

Hildebrandt, a 2018 World silver medalist at 53 kg, is a three-time Senior World Team member. She dropped to 50 kg for the Olympic year, and this will be her first time facing Golston. Hildebrandt has a bye to the Olympic Team Trials finals after qualifying the weight class for the Olympic Games at the 2020 Pan Am Olympic Qualifier in Ottawa, Canada. Earlier this October, Hildebrandt won the Senior Nationals, earning outstanding wrestler honors after outscoring her opponents, 38-0, across four matches.

Golston is a three-time National Team member and three-time Junior World medalist, finishing with silver in 2013 and bronze in 2011 and 2012. In 2019, Golston finished runner-up at the U.S. Open, the Dan Kolov International in Bulgaria, the Pan Am Championships and the Bill Farrell International. She placed third in at the Lady Klippan Open in Sweden in her most recent outing this January.

Spencer Lee vs. Zach Sanders
Iowa superstar Spencer Lee will square off with veteran freestyler Zach Sanders in the second match of the evening. Lee is a two-time Junior World champion (2015, 2016) and a 2014 Cadet World champion. Collegiately, Lee has won two NCAA titles in two opportunities. In his last freestyle tournament, Lee claimed a title at the 2019 Senior Nationals.

Sanders is a four-time All-American for the University of Minnesota. He is a 2012 World University Championships silver medalist. Additionally, he has won titles at the 2014 Pan Am Championships and the 2018 Cerro Pelado International in Cuba. His most recent tournament placement was fifth at the 2019 Senior Nationals.

Austin DeSanto vs. Bryce Meredith
Current Iowa fan-favorite Austin DeSanto will take on Wyoming graduate Bryce Meredith. DeSanto made the round of 12 at the NCAA tournament as a freshman for Drexel University, before transferring to Iowa, where he earned All-American honors, placing fifth at 133 pounds. Last season, he was named a NWCA First-Team All-American. It will be interesting to see how DeSanto fairs in freestyle, where he does not have any notable results. However, it is guaranteed he will bring his relentless pace to any match he competes in.

Meredith was a three-time All-American and two-time NCAA finalist for Wyoming. On the Senior level, he placed third at both the 2019 Dave Schultz Memorial and the Cerra Pelado and sixth at the 2019 Senior Nationals.

Jaydin Eierman vs. Vladimer Khinchegashvili
In an international battle, Iowa newcomer Jaydin Eierman will take on Georgia’s Vladimer Khinchegashvili. Eierman, a three-time All-American for Missouri who transferred to Iowa for his final season of eligibility, will face quite the challenge in Khinchegashvili, a 2016 Olympic champion and 2012 Olympic silver medalist. Khinchegashvili is also a 2015 World champion, a 2014 World silver medalist and a 2017 World bronze medalist.

Eierman already owns one victory over a Georgian World champion, a pin over Beka Lomtadze at the 2018 Poland Open. Eierman was a 2018 National Team member, a 2019 U23 World Team member and a 2019 Pan Am Games bronze medalist. Earlier this month, Eierman finished fifth at Senior Nationals.

Pat Lugo vs. Matthew Kolodzik
This matchup features two wrestlers who were both deprived a shot at an NCAA title during their senior seasons. Pat Lugo and Matt Kolodzik were both NWCA First-Team All-Americans, seeded first and sixth respectively heading into the NCAA Tournament.

Lugo was a two-time NCAA qualifier for Edinboro before transferring to Iowa and placing eighth at the 2019 NCAA Tournament. Over the summer, Lugo defeated Ohio State All-American Luke Pletcher in a freestyle exhibition match at Beat the Street Chicago’s Rumble on the Rooftop. Kolodzik was a three-time All-American for Princeton. He finished sixth at the 2020 Senior Nationals.

Alex Marinelli vs. James Green
Alex “The Bull” Marinelli is another Hawkeye tasked with taking on a World medalist. His opponent is current 70 kg World Team member James Green, who has bumped up to 74 kg for the Olympic year. Green has represented the U.S. at five Senior World Championships, earning silver in 2017 and bronze in 2015. Marinelli is a two-time NCAA All-American and a 2020 NWCA First-Team All-American. Last season, he earned the No. 1 seed at the NCAA Tournament with a 20-1 record.

Precious Bell vs. Jordan Nelson
The second women’s freestyle bout on the card features No. 2 on the National Team at 76 kg Precious Bell wrestling WCWA third-place finisher Jordan Nelson. Bell is the 2019 U.S. Open and Senior Nationals champion and was a member of the 2019 U23 World Team. She is a two-time WCWA All-American for Menlo College. Nelson competes collegiately for Life University where she will be a senior this season. In addition to her WCWA All-American honors, she also placed fifth at the NAIA Championships in 2019.

Michael Kemerer vs. Tommy Gantt
In the penultimate match of the night fans will see two-time NCAA All-American and 2020 NWCA First-Team All-American Michael Kemerer take on former NC State All-American Tommy Gantt. Kemerer is entering his senior season for Iowa. He placed third at the 2017 NCAA Tournament and fourth at the 2018 NCAA Tournament before missing the entire 2019 season due to injury. Last year, he put together a 15-1 record and earned the No. 2 seed at the NCAA Tournament.

Gantt finished eighth at the 2016 NCAA Tournament. Since then, he has experienced much success at the Senior level, winning the 2018 Bill Farrell International and the 2019 Henri Deglane Challenge in France. He finished third at the 2019 Senior Nationals and runner-up at the 2019 U.S. Open.

Tony Cassioppi vs. Nick Gwiazdowski
Closing out the card at heavyweight will be Iowa’s Tony Cassioppi and World Team member Nick Gwiazdowski. Cassioppi was a NWCA First-Team All-American as a freshman and earned the No. 3 seed at the NCAA Tournament. Gwiazdowski is a three-time Senior World Team member and two-time World bronze medalist. After earning All-American honors as a freshman for Binghamton, Gwiazdowski transferred to NC State, where he was a three-time NCAA finalist and two-time champion. In international competition, Cassioppi has claimed two Junior Pan Am titles (2016, 2017) in both freestyle and Greco-Roman.