Iowa's Spencer Lee, Kaleb Young advance to NCAA wrestling semifinals

No. 1 Alex Marinelli upset in quarterfinals; UNI's Drew Foster also in semis

Iowa wrestler Kaleb Young. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Iowa wrestler Kaleb Young. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

PITTSBURGH — Iowa and Northern Iowa combined to send three to Friday night’s semifinals at the national wrestling tournament.

The Hawkeyes’ Spencer Lee and Kaleb Young and Panther senior Drew Foster recorded quarterfinal victories during the third session of the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships at PPG Paints Arena.

Iowa is fourth with 43 1/2 points and six wrestlers in the consolations. UNI is 14th with 25 points and four overall left in the field. Iowa State is 19th with 19 1/2 and four wrestlers left in consolation competition. Penn State leads the team race with 80 points.

Defending 125-pound champion and third-seeded Spencer Lee built an 11-2 lead when he pinned Minnesota’s No. 6 Sean Russell in 5:59. Lee attacked from the start with a takedown and four nearfall in the first 90 seconds of the bout.

“Just focus on scoring points,” Lee said. “That’s the big thing. Just continue to score points every position in the match.”

Lee will face Oklahoma State’s Nick Piccininni in the semifinals. Lee had two wins last year over Piccininni, who beat Lee by fall in a dual meet last month.

“Spencer Lee is showing who he is on the mat,” Iowa Coach Tom Brands said. “We’ll see even more tonight and I’m excited to see him wrestle and perform at his very best.”


Young continued his impressive run. The sixth-seeded 157-pounder scored a takedown just 13 seconds into overtime to beat Northwestern’s No. 3 Ryan Deakin, 7-5.

“I was kind of feeling it, but if I’m feeling it that means he’s feeling it just as much, if not more,” Young said. “You get to your attacks, you finish fast and it makes it hard on the guy.”

Young will face Nebraska’s No. 2 Tyler Berger in the semifinals. This is Young’s first national tournament appearance and he secured All-America honors.

“It feels good,” Young said. “It’s a lot better than watching from the stands like I did last year

“I’ve got to keep it going. I’ve got to get better every year. Get things going.”

Iowa’s top-seeded Alex Marinelli suffered a loss in the quarterfinals, ending his unbeaten season and dropping him into the consolations. Virginia Tech’s Mekhi Lewis scored a late takedown to upset Marinelli 3-1 at 165. Marinelli will have to rebound to reach the top eight and earn his second straight All-America finish.

“He’s a competitor,” Brands said. “He loves to compete. He was talking to himself the right way on the way back here. A lot of disappointment and was talking to himself about the future. The future is coming up right now.”

Iowa stumbled after a strong first day. The Hawkeyes were just 2-5 in the quarterfinals. Iowa has eight guys left in the running for All-America honors. Austin DeSanto (133), Max Murin (141), Pat Lugo at 149 and heavyweight Sam Stoll lost in the quarters. Jacob Warner (197) won two straight consolation matches, placing him in the round of 12 as well.


“It’s for All-American honors,” Brands said. “Sports is a metaphor for life, wrestling more than any other sport. You get your heart ripped out. It’s an individual thing. There’s a lot of pride. You have a chance to come back for individual honors. You’re not going to be where you want to be on the stand, but you still come back.”

Foster has a chance to become UNI’s first finalist since Sean Stender earned a national runner-up finish at 197 in 2005.

Foster scored a pair of takedowns and added a riding-time point for a 6-2 victory over Virginia Tech’s third-seeded Zach Zavatsky at 184.

“I felt good,” said Foster, an All-American with a seventh-place finish in 2017. “Definitely, need more motion on my feet. I’m kind of seeing in all my matches where I kind of stand still in some spots where I get too comfortable.

“I have a couple more matches and that’s what I want to be my focus. Just moving and getting more crisp attacks, but staying and riding tough. I think that’s been the big difference, as far as my matches so far.”

UNI has four wrestlers remaining. Taylor Lujan (174) and Bryce Steiert (165) fell in the quarters, while Max Thomsen won two consolation matches to reach the round of 12 at 149.

Iowa State also has four wrestlers remaining. Jarrett Degen (149) and 184-pounder Sam Colbray lost quarterfinal bouts. Austin Gomez (133) and Willie Miklus at 197 won a pair of consolation matches to stay alive.

Gomez will face DeSanto in the round of 12.

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