Iowa's Kaleb Young provides strong depth and flexibility in lineup

Young wrestled off at 174, plans to start again at 165 against Rider

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IOWA CITY — Kaleb Young welcomes another opportunity in the lineup against a ranked opponent.

Alex Marinelli anxiously awaits his first official chance to walk to center mat for the University of Iowa.

Both give the seventh-ranked Hawkeyes a quality option to man the 165-pound spot when they host No. 22 Rider Friday night at home, starting at 7.

Iowa Coach Tom Brands said the plan is to wrestle Young and Marinelli will continue to train. Young was unbeaten in last week’s Iowa City Duals.

“I need to take the opportunity and do what I can with it,” said Young, who was 21-6 and placed fifth at the Midlands Championships as a redshirt last season. “Go out and wrestle hard. Wrestle smart and look to dominate.”

Young initially wrestled off at 174, falling in a close match to Joey Gunther. With Marinelli returning from injury, Young was able to drop down and fill in until Marinelli gets the nod to compete by Brands. The decision to move back down was a joint effort.

“We kind of came to it together,” Young said. “He talked to me about it. He thought it was a good idea. I could go down and help the team out, so we went with it from there.”

In the age of just 9.9 scholarships, which isn’t enough to present full scholarships to each starter, depth is crucial at the NCAA Division I level. Young is good enough to step in and succeed at either spot.

“We have the right guy,” Brands said about Young. “We have a journeyman there. We have a guy that’s going to play the right role. We have a guy that’s going to come to work and get better every day and help the team any way he can help the team. That’s what is important.”

Young has prepared himself to be versatile, managing his weight and monitoring his nutrition to be able to make 165 without problems. He said he is fine with either weight class.

“I feel like I’m probably a little stronger at 165,” Young said. “It’s probably a little better competition weight. I feel comfortable at 174 also. At 165, I’m a little bit on the bigger end.”

Young said he felt good about his first competition, going 3-0 and defeating North Dakota State’s ranked Andrew Fogarty, 3-2. He said he needed to be more offensive. Brands shared the same opinion and liked the fact that Young was not satisfied with simply winning.

“Go out there and just score points,” Brands said of Young. “Do what you’re capable of doing.

“He’s receptive to that message. You see him and his eyes open up. It’s more fun to wrestle when you’re scoring points. He’s all about that.”

He could face fourth-ranked and two-time All-American Chad Walsh (6-0). The redshirt freshman looks at it as a chance to prove himself.

“I want to put myself out there,” Young said. “I want to let everyone know that I can wrestle, too. I want to dominate, look to score points and show everyone that I can compete.”

Hawkeye fans have been waiting for more than a year to see Marinelli to take the mat, flirting with the idea of coming out of redshirt last season. Marinelli has been just as anxious to wrestle in front of fans as they are to see him.

“Pretty fricking hard (to sit), but I know Tom has my best interest in mind,” Marinelli said. “He knows that it’s good for me, and he doesn’t want to rush anything. It’s a long season.”

Marinelli said he is training at full speed and doing everything asked in practice. He wrestled with teammate Pat Lugo on Monday and Young on Tuesday. He was asked when he expected to return.

“Whenever Tom says,” Marinelli said. “I could go this weekend. I could go Illinois. I could go Maryland. I could go Rutgers. I can go any time.

“I’m weight in. I’m weighing in this weekend. I weighed in last weekend. I was ready to go but Tom doesn’t want to rush anything (and) there is no reason to.”

Brands said Marinelli is strong and he has no issue with the four-time Ohio state champion from St. Paris Graham High School. Patience is vital to Marinelli’s return, even though he is chomping at the bit for his first official match as a Hawkeye. Brands said Marinelli is Iowa’s “No. 1 guy” at 165, but Young is a very good alternative.

“The issue isn’t a quarterback controversy,” Brands said. “The issue is we have to make doggone sure it’s the right decision for a lot of reasons, it stems or starts with the injury but there are other reasons that come to play. He wants to wrestle. He knows he can go. I know he can go, but what is the right decision, so we’re going to do the right thing.”

Brands said the situation will be determined from day to day and meet to meet. The focus will be on improvement and the season is in its infancy.

“It’s November,” Brands said with a smile. “Settle down, dudes. I’m kidding when I say that, but we have a lot of wrestling to do.”

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

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