Iowa Hawkeyes

Iowa's Alex Marinelli avenges loss for second straight Midlands title

Hawkeyes crown 2 for 28th Midlands team championship; UNI places second with 2 champions

Iowa's Alex Marinelli. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Iowa's Alex Marinelli. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — Iowa’s Alex Marinelli had this date in his sights.

The 165-pound All-American wanted an opportunity to face Wisconsin’s Evan Wick. He earned his chance to avenge a disappointing loss at last season’s NCAA tournament and took advantage of it.

“This whole season, I’ve waited a long time for that match,” Marinelli said. “It killed me to lose so many points at the national tournament to him. That match was marked on my calendar for a long time. I’m happy he wrestled at the Midlands.”

Marinelli won his second straight title and helped second-ranked Iowa capture its 28th team title at Northwestern's Ken Kraft Midlands Championships on Sunday night at Sears Centre Arena. The Hawkeyes finished with 184 points, topping runner-up Northern Iowa by 64 1/2.

“We have a lot of work to do,” Iowa Coach Tom Brands said. “We’ve got two champions and six in the finals. Two-for-6, we have to do better than that and we maybe have to wake up from the break a little bit in some of those cases.”

Marinelli joined 133-pounder Austin DeSanto atop the podium. He posted a 5-3 decision over second-ranked and top-seeded Wick.

The approach was to attack from his feet. Marinelli executed it well with two takedowns in the opening period, building a 4-1 lead.

“He came at me hard, which I like,” Marinelli said. “It was a driving finish. It wasn’t slap at the knee. It wasn’t slap at the leg. It was penetrate, finish (and) drive through him.


Wick had a rideout in the second and received two stall calls, but Marinelli showed progress from March when he gave up nearfall in a major-decision loss. Wick had to work harder to keep Marinelli down compared to the last match.

“Marinelli is a smart wrestler,” Brands said. “He makes adjustments. I can tell you he’s been thinking about that for a long, long time.

“We have to finish the deal on the bottom, but two first-period takedowns means he can score more. … That will really open things up. I like that performance, for sure.”

DeSanto claimed Iowa’s first title, watching as Northwestern’s Sebastian Rivera upset NCAA champion teammate Spencer Lee, 7-3, for the 125 championship. Rivera was named the tournament Champion of Champions and Outstanding Wrestler.

“It fuels me a little bit,” DeSanto said. “It fuels me because I don’t want that to happen. I don’t want that to happen to me. I don’t want that to happen to him. I don’t want that to happen to anybody on my team. I want that to happen to the other guy.”

DeSanto continued his dominant roll through the bracket. He trounced Campbell’s fourth-seeded Noah Gonser, 15-5, in the finals. DeSanto finished with a tournament-high 28 1/2 team points. He finished his first Midlands title run with two major decisions, a pin, technical fall and win by disqualification in a semifinal over Illinois’ Dylan Duncan.

“I wrestled hard,” DeSanto said. “It’s a fun tournament. My first time here. It’s awesome.”

Lee suffered a tough loss, giving up three takedowns to Rivera.

“We let that guy wrestle his pace,” Brands said. “We let him hang. He was like a satellite on the outside. It was too slow. Our stalk was slow.


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“I don’t think he was too concerned when he got out but he never made the adjustment.”

He was one of four Iowa runners-up, including 157-pounder Kaleb Young.

UNI’s two champions came at Iowa’s expense. Top-seeded Josh Alber beat No. 2 seed Max Murin, 5-2, at 141. Drew Foster, also a top seed, edged No. 2 Cash Wilcke, 3-2.

Alber said his title was a source of payback to UNI Coach Doug Schwab and his staff. They helped him mature to the person he is today on and off the mat.

“He’s a great guy,” Alber said. “When I win, it’s like going to him, too. I wouldn’t be here without him.

“I just owe everything to those guys. It just feels good to be able to give back to them a little bit for all they have given to me.”

Alber was up, 1-0, when Murin escaped to tie it. Alber dropped in and scored a takedown right away for a lead he didn’t surrender, adding another takedown in the final seconds.

“I could feel him get a little overly aggressive on me,” Alber said. “I knew he was reaching hard. I knew I had to fire one of my attacks and it worked out perfect for me.”

Former Alburnett two-time state champion Tanner Sloan turned plenty of heads this weekend, becoming the first true freshman finalist at the Midlands since Princeton’s Matt Kolodzik and Lehigh’s Jordan Wood in 2016.


Sloan avenged a prep loss to Northwestern’s sixth-seeded Lucas Davison with a 4-3 semifinal victory. The run came to an end with a 13-4 loss to Princeton’s third-ranked Pat Brucki in the 197 final.

“Definitely things to work on,” said Sloan, who is 18-2 in his redshirt season. “Being here and the atmosphere, beating some tough kids really proved to people I can hang with them.”

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