Iowa starts, ends dual with pins in dominant win over Minnesota

Hawkeyes get pins from Sorensen, Happel in 34-7 victory


Minnesota's Ben Brancale, left wrestles Iowa's Brandon Sorensen in the 149 pound match during a wrestling meet at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Friday, February 2, 2018. Sorenson won by fall. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Minnesota's Ben Brancale, left wrestles Iowa's Brandon Sorensen in the 149 pound match during a wrestling meet at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Friday, February 2, 2018. Sorenson won by fall. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Normally, Iowa wrestling duals follow the traditional lightest to heaviest format.

Friday night, the order was reshuffled. The Hawkeyes didn’t have their lightweight sparkplug ignite the crowd and team. They didn’t hear the ominous theme that precedes heavyweight Sam Stoll’s stroll to the mat to close the dual.

Neither the order, nor the opponent, presented any trouble for Iowa.

The seventh-ranked Hawkeyes received an opening pin from Brandon Sorensen and freshmen Alex Marinelli, Spencer Lee and Carter Happel added victories over top-10 opponents as Iowa beat No. 18 Minnesota, 34-7, in a Big Ten Conference wrestling dual at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

The dual started at 149 pounds due to a draw for the order requested by the Golden Gophers. The earlier calls didn’t bother the middle of the Iowa lineup, which added three more wins and improved to a combined 45-0.

“I don’t mind,” said Sorensen, who is usually the fourth to take the mat. “It’s not much of a change. Maybe a little bit in your nutrition. Put a little less in you so you’re not too full going out on the mat, but it’s the same thing.

“You’re going out there and performing and taking it to the guy.”

Marinelli led off the championship round at the Midlands and said he liked it. He usually kicks off the second half of the dual following the intermission. He was unfazed.

“This is an entertainment business,” Marinelli said. “When you put on a show right at the beginning that is huge for the crowd.”

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Second-ranked Sorensen (17-0) recorded his second straight pin and sixth overall, decking Ben Brancale in 3:32. Happel provided a bookend fall, pinning 10th-ranked Tommy Thorn with two seconds left at 141.

Iowa recorded 12 first-period takedowns and the three-time All-American senior may have set the tone. He tallied three first-period takedowns. Brancale chose the bottom position to start the second, Sorensen sucked him back to the mat, adjusting and getting the fall.

Sorensen has opened things up more this season, earning a pin or technical fall in his last three dual bouts at CHA. He has earned bonus points in 12 of his 17 victories.

“It comes from just picking up your pace,” Sorensen said. “If you pick up your pace, the gap widens, bonus points come and that’s what we’re looking for.”

Iowa's Spencer Lee


Marinelli has ascended the national ladder at 165 pounds. The redshirt freshman has done so by climbing over a host of ranked wrestlers.

Fifth-ranked Marinelli dropped No. 9 Nick Wanzek, 5-1, for his fourth victory over a wrestler ranked in the top 10 nationally. It was his third in the last four matches.

“When the season gets to the end, you’re going to have those matches,” Marinelli said. “You’re going to have close matches because that’s when the best wrestlers come out to play.

“You’ve got to come out and perform every single time, no matter who the opponent is. It doesn’t matter what the rankings are.”

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Marinelli broke a scoreless tie with a second-period escape. He closed strong, scoring the match’s only takedown in the third. He was in on more leg attacks but was unable to score until the final frame.

“I should have finished better,” Marinelli said. “I know if I finish in the first period the match can be completely different. I have to finish a lot of my attacks.

“We’re going to go back into the room tomorrow and definitely focus on moving the guy, bend my knees and score.”

Marinelli was able to add a riding-time point with more than a minute of riding time, holding Wanzek down for the final moments to secure it.

“I heard (associate head coach) Terry (Brands) at the end and he said you ride him,” Marinelli said. “It gave me motivation to just ride him. I knew there was short time and getting that riding time was huge in those close matches.”

Lee also faced a top-10 opponent in 2017 NCAA runner-up and sixth-ranked Ethan Lizak. Lee dominated Lizak, posting a 15-0 technical fall with a takedown early in the third.

Lee built a 6-0 lead in the first with a takedown and four-point nearfall off a tilt. Lizak, a strong rider, chose the top position to start the second, but Lee scored a reversal, another nearfall and a point for stalling and a 13-0 edge after two.

Sophomore Michael Kemerer returned to the lineup and was even more offensive in his victory. Kemerer scored five takedowns, two nearfall and more than two minutes of riding time for a 16-6 major decision over Jake Short at 157.

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Like Kemerer, Gunther (174) has received a reprieve from the starting lineup recently, missing the previous two duals. He was effective in his return, scoring takedowns in the first two periods of his 5-1 decision over Chris Pfarr, extending Iowa’s lead to 16-0.

Stoll posted a major decision and Joey Gunther (174) and Cash Wilcke (197) added decisions.

l Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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