Iowa Hawkeyes

Iowa freshman duo advance to NCAA semifinals

Lee, Marinelli secure All-American honors

Purdue’s Luke Welch, left, wrestles Iowa’s Spencer Lee in a 125 pound match during the second round of the 2018 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio on Thursday, March 15, 2018. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Purdue’s Luke Welch, left, wrestles Iowa’s Spencer Lee in a 125 pound match during the second round of the 2018 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio on Thursday, March 15, 2018. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

CLEVELAND — Spencer Lee and Alex Marinelli will bring hardware back home to Iowa City.

The University of Iowa freshman duo won quarterfinal bouts Friday morning at the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships at Quicken Loans Arena.

Third-seeded Lee forged his way into the 125-pound semifinal with a fall over Oklahoma State’s Nick Piccininni. Lee built an 11-1 lead with nearfall awaiting when he stuck the former All-American in 3:58. Lee scored two technical falls during the first day.

Lee scored a takedown in the first 20 seconds and then added four nearfall from his patented tilt for a 6-1 lead after the second. Lee escaped in the second. Piccininni made a shot and seemed to be in good position to score. Lee countered and turned it into a takedown and two nearfall of his own, adjusting to get the pin on the edge of the mat.

Watch: Spencer Lee's quarterfinal pin


Lee (20-2) moves on to face Ohio State’s second-seeded Nathan Tomasello (14-1) in the semifinal. The pair of split one-point decisions this season. Lee won, 2-1, in the dual. Tomasello won, 3-2, at the Big Ten Championships.

Marinelli’s victory was much closer. The fifth-seeded 165-pounder scored three points in the final period for a 7-6 decision over Rider’s No. 4 seed Chad Walsh.

Walsh jumped to an early lead with two first-period takedowns, including a headlock that Marinelli was able to fend off to avoid back points. Marinelli was down 5-2 in the second when he scored a takedown and rode Walsh out, swinging the bout in his favor. He escaped in the third, tying the match, 5-5, with 1:50 left. Marinelli’s decisive takedown came with about 1:12 to go.

Marinelli (19-3) assured a top-six finish and will face Illinois’ two-time NCAA champ and three-time national finalist Isaiah Martinez (17-0) in the semifinal.

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Iowa won two of its three quarterfinals. Sixth-seeded Michael Kemerer lost a 6-2 decision to Penn State NCAA champion Jason Nolf at 157.

University of Northern Iowa 174-pounder Taylor Lujan was turned away from the semifinals by Penn State’s second-seeded Mark Hall. Seventh-seeded Lujan remains a win away from All-American status, giving up an early takedown and nearfall in a 6-2 decision.

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

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