Iowa Hawkeyes

Iowa's Alex Marinelli captures Big Ten wrestling title

Sophomore earns share of Outstanding Wrestler honor with 165-pound crown; Hawkeyes third with 8 NCAA qualifiers

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Actions speak louder than words for Iowa wrestler Alex Marinelli.

Coincidentally, his post-match interview and award ceremony were the first inaudible to the Williams Arena crowd.

No words were needed when everybody could see him atop the podium, toting the large bracket and receiving a share of the Outstanding Wrestler award when it was all finished.

Marinelli used a six-point move in the second period to handle Penn State’s top-ranked Vincenzo Joseph for the 165-pound title Sunday at the Big Ten Wrestling Championships.

“My interview after my match was the only one that was silent and my awards ceremony was the only one that was silent,” Marinelli said. “I’m not about recognition at all, but when something’s deserved you have to give recognition.”

Marinelli remained unbeaten, improving to 23-0 with a 9-3 decision over the two-time NCAA champion. After a scoreless first, Joseph opened the scoring with an escape. About 10 seconds later, Marinelli broke things wide open.

Marinelli secured a bodylock and took Joseph down to his back for four nearfall and a 6-1 lead. The move was similar to one he used in last year’s dual that Marinelli won in their only previous meeting.

“It was exactly like it,” Marinelli said. “Same side. Same everything. I floated to the left side and when it’s a coin flip you don’t want to gamble in those situations, because a lot of times it comes to the guy with the best position and that’s what I had.”

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He also became Iowa’s 200th conference titlist. Marinelli has come a long ways from last year’s Big Ten tournament, which he entered unbeaten and left sixth.

“It means everything,” Marinelli said. “I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned how to be smart in positions you have to be smart in. Coming away with a Big Ten title is huge from last year, losing first round.”

Marinelli said he watched film on Joseph’s last loss to Illinois’ Isaiah Martinez. He executed the smart and stingy style he wanted. He wasn’t content with one outburst, adding an escape and takedown in the third.

“We wrestled a high-paced, physical match,” Iowa Coach Tom Brands said. “We scored a lot of points and we kept scoring. It was an exciting match, especially from a Hawkeye point of view.

“We never coasted. We didn’t try to win with the six points.”

Like Marinelli, Spencer Lee (18-3) looked in control for most of his 125-pound title match. But Northwestern’s Sebastian Rivera stormed back, benefited from a crucial review for a penalty point and scored a takedown in sudden victory for a 6-4 win and second straight victory over Lee.

The two wrestled to a scoreless first period. Lee got on the board first with an escape and added a takedown later in the second for a 3-0 lead to start the third.

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Rivera escaped to pull within one. A flurry with 23 seconds left resulted in Northwestern coaches throwing the challenge brick. The review by officials led to a penalty point for hands to the face by Lee, who was ahead 3-2 with the clock reset to 30 seconds, which was the time of the infraction.

Rivera notched a takedown with about eight seconds left to force overtime with Lee receiving a point for 1:08 of riding time. Rivera countered a Lee shot, hipping into the Hawkeye and getting the decisive score and his second straight victory over the defending NCAA champion.

Lee needed to find a way to score and close out the match.

“We just have to wrestle our match and Spencer knows that,” Brands said. “When he wrestles his match (and) his positions he’s dynamite. That’s what he needs to do.”

The Hawkeyes claimed eight automatic bids to the NCAA tournament, placing third in the team race with 107 1/2 points. They started the second day by winning five of six consolation matches.

“We have to be more ready to go,” Brands said. “We have to maybe not struggle so much with putting points on the board.”

Freshmen Max Murin (141) and Jacob Warner (197) and 157-pounder Kaleb Young will make their national tournament debuts. Warner and 149-punder Pat Lugo each finished third. Warner capped Iowa’s tournament with a takedown in sudden victory for a 7-5 decision over Nebraska’s Eric Schultz.

“He had some fire and he’s always had fire,” Brands said. “He’s like all these guys they take great pride in doing it right.”

Penn State captured its sixth Big Ten tournament title and first since 2016. The Nittany Lions crowned four champions, including 157-pounder Jason Nolf, who shared OW honors with Marinelli. Penn State tallied 157 1/2 points, beating runner-up Ohio State by 35.

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Penn State Coach Cael Sanderson was named Big Ten Coach of the Year and Nolf and teammate Bo Nickal (197) were named conference co-Wrestlers of the Year. Minnesota runner-up heavyweight Gable Steveson was the Big Ten Freshman of the Year.

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

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