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Five-for-five makes five Midlands Championships in a row

Iowa%27s+149-pound+Brandon+Sorensen+has+his+arm+raised+after+winning+during+the+fourth+session+of+the+55th+Annual+Midlands+Championships+in+the+Sears+Centre+in+Hoffman+Estates%2C+Illinois%2C+on+Saturday%2C+Dec.+30%2C+2017.+%28Joseph+Cress%2FThe+Daily+Iowan%29
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Five-for-five makes five Midlands Championships in a row

Iowa's 149-pound Brandon Sorensen has his arm raised after winning during the fourth session of the 55th Annual Midlands Championships in the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, on Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa's 149-pound Brandon Sorensen has his arm raised after winning during the fourth session of the 55th Annual Midlands Championships in the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, on Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Josep

Iowa's 149-pound Brandon Sorensen has his arm raised after winning during the fourth session of the 55th Annual Midlands Championships in the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, on Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Josep

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Josep

Iowa's 149-pound Brandon Sorensen has his arm raised after winning during the fourth session of the 55th Annual Midlands Championships in the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, on Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017. (Joseph Cress/The Daily Iowan)

James Geerdes, [email protected]

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HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — The final round of the Midlands Championships was turned into a Hawkeye stomping ground on Dec. 30 when all five of Iowa’s finalists won titles, marking the first time in school history it has won five titles.

The tournament was dominated by the Hawkeyes — they finished first with 156.5 team points, followed by Rutgers at 109.5. Iowa led the field in pins and total match points to earn its fifth Midlands team title in a row.

Redshirt freshman Alex Marinelli earned his first Midlands title after finishing third in last year’s event. He started the night out for the Hawkeyes with a 3-1 decision in sudden victory over Jon Schleifer of Princeton to secure the 165-pound title.

No. 2 seed Marinelli finished regulation time tied 1-1 with Scheifer and whipped out a takedown in the first sudden-victory period.

“[It takes] grit. I can widen the gap, and that’s the goal. The score doesn’t display what I can do. But coming out with the win is huge.”

Marinelli was named Midlands’ Champion of Champions, an award given to the most-voted for title-winner by fellow Midlands champions, even with his low score.

All of Iowa’s finalists wrestled close matches in the title round, but each ended up with victories.

Sophomore Cash Wilcke won his first Midlands title when he topped Penn’s Frank Mattiace in sudden victory with a takedown to earn the 197-pound title, after beating Hawkeye teammate Jacob Warner in the semifinals.

Junior Sam Stoll followed Wilcke’s performance at 285 pounds with his own title. A penalty point was awarded to Stoll after nationally 4th-ranked Tanner Hall was called for unsportsmanlike conduct. An escape for both wrestlers in the final two periods gave Stoll a 2-1 decision.

Stoll earned his first Midlands title after finishing third place the previous two years.

“It’s good for the seedings later in the season,” Stoll said. “It’s a good benchmark to see where you’re at. I have a lot to work on, and anyone on this team — win or lose — has a lot to work on. But I took third twice before this, so it feels good to finally win it.”

Midlands veteran Brandon Sorensen won his third tournament title, making him one of 12 Hawkeyes with the distinction. Sorensen topped nationally No. 3 Justin Oliver after working through a talented 149-pound bracket.

“I had done some good things,” Sorensen said. “I kind of opened the gap for one of the opponents I had earlier this year. But there’s also a couple where I thought I could do better and widen that margin. So I did some good things, but I have a lot of things to work on.”

Head coach Tom Brands agreed with his senior’s mindset. Iowa wrestlers scored fewer points in the tournament’s later bouts than he had hoped.

“This is a midterm for us,” Brands said. “This is a midseason review for us. Where we have to go from here to the next one is a significant step or two.”

Iowa’s fifth and final Midlands title of the night came from Michael Kemerer, who topped former high-school teammate Justin Shields. Throughout the tournament, Kemerer dominated, forcing four falls and one tech fall. Shields proved more formidable for Kemerer, but the Iowa sophomore still handled him with a 5-2 decision, with sights set on higher targets.

“This year, it’s looking higher than that and looking at the international guys,” Kemerer said. “The best guys in the world are the guys that I want to beat. Obviously, these are all just steppingstones to that.”

Team Standings

  1. Iowa 156.5
  2. Rutgers 109.5
  3. Central Michigan 108.0
  4. Arizona State 106.5
  5. South Dakota State 99.0
  6. Northwestern 85.5
  7. Purdue 84.0
  8. Princeton 73.0
  9. Penn 54.0
  10. Illinois 53.5
  11. Oregon State 47.0
  12. Maryland 37.0
  13. Edinboro 34.5
  14. Indiana 34.5
  15. Wisconsin 31.5

     

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About the Writer
James Geerdes, Sports Reporter

James “Jim” Geerdes is a sports reporter, digital producer, and designer. He is currently  a sophomore. He spent his freshman year covering wresting,...

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