Iowa Hawkeyes

Iowa wrestling dominates opening day of Midlands Championships

Hawkeyes have 10 semifinalists, leads runner-up UNI by 46 points

Iowa wrestler Alex Marinelli. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Iowa wrestler Alex Marinelli. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — Alex Marinelli’s dominant performance Sunday was indicative of the overall showing by the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Marinelli manhandled each of his opponents, posting four falls including two in the first period.

“It’s important for our team to get bonus points,” Marinelli said. “Spencer Lee, me, (Austin) DeSanto and all these guys thrive off bonus points. We kind of want to one-up guys.”

The toughest competition the top-ranked Hawkeyes had was between each other. Iowa tallied 26 bonus-point victories with 12 pins and advanced 10 to the semifinals after the first day of the 57th Annual Ken Kraft Midlands Championships on Sunday at Sears Centre Arena.

Iowa was in command with 115 1/2 points, leading Northern Iowa by 46. Wisconsin was third with 68 1/2.

“Bonus points is a prevalent discussion in our wrestling room,” Iowa Coach Tom Brands said. “Bonus points come from dominant mentalities. It’s not an afterthought.

“Bonus points are hard to get. You have to work hard to dominate, to get lopsided wins, to wrestle in the top, bottom and neutral position and be dominant in all three.”

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Marinelli reached the semifinals for the third straight year, winning 165-pound titles in 2017 and 2018. He rolled through his first three foes, wrestling a total of 7:24. In the quarterfinals against Harvard’s Philip Conigliaro, Marinelli built a 17-4 lead before ending it in 6:08.

“After the first period, he is laying on his back,” Marinelli said. “I look at Tom and he’s smiling. I’m smiling. That’s just fun. That’s what he loves. That’s what I love. It’s a good time.”

Iowa’s Spencer Lee is just a week removed from his U.S. Nationals title in men’s freestyle. He rolled his way to the Midlands semifinals. Lee opened with consecutive pins under a minute and added a 16-1 technical fall over Harvard’s Nolan Hellickson in the quarterfinals.

Iowa entered the tournament with top-two seeds in all but one weight. Counting redshirt Abe Assad making it at 184, the Hawkeyes have a representative in nine weights. Lee and Marinelli were joined in the semifinals by DeSanto at 133, 141-pounder Max Murin, Pat Lugo (149), Kaleb Young (157), Jacob Warner at 197 and heavyweight Tony Cassioppi.

Iowa showed its depth with a tournament-best 12 quarterfinalists, including three at 149. In addition to second-seeded Lugo, Jeren Glosser and No. 12-seed Vince Turk advanced. Turk notched an 11-1 major decision over Virginia’s Michael Murphy to reach the semifinals.

He earned a sudden-victory decision over Michigan’s fifth-seeded Kanen Storr in the quarters.

“The work’s not done yet,” Turk said. “Tom and (Iowa associate head coach) Terry (Brands) preach going for gold, so that’s what I’m out here doing. The hay is not in the barn yet.”

Turk was a national qualifier at 141 two years ago. He remained at 141 a year ago and has moved up to 149 this season. Even though he remains a reserve, he trains to be the best wrestler in the country each day.

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“Ever since I moved up to 149 I’ve felt a lot better,” Turk said. “The weight cut is less of a hassle. More just focusing on wrestling now.

“Every time I step on the mat I’m trying to prove my place, trying to earn it.”

UNI has four semifinalists and four in consolation competition. Max Thomsen (149), second-seeded Bryce Steiert (174), top-seeded 184-pounder Taylor Lujan and heavyweight Carter Isley all advanced.

“It’s really important we come back (Monday) and put four guys in the finals and get four third (place finishes),” Schwab said. “Score as many points as a team and build momentum as a group.”

Isley closed the round with an 8-3 victory over Campbell’s No. 4 seed Jere Heino.

“It was a great match by Carter,” Schwab said. “He went and scored multiple attacks.

“I think Carter is competing as well as anyone on our team, right now. You can see the confidence in him.”

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

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