HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. – Twelve Iowa wrestlers advanced to the Midlands quarterfinals. Eight found spots in the semifinals. Six wrestled in the finals. But only two – Austin DeSanto and Alex Marinelli – stood at the top of the podium and claimed Midlands titles.
Defending champion Alex Marinelli and Wisconsin All-American Evan Wick competed for the 165-pound title. Marinelli scored 2 takedowns in the first period, and those would be enough to carry him to back-to-back Midlands titles, as he picked up a 4-3 win.
“[My] mindset was just to get to my attacks,” Marinelli said. “I prepared this whole season. I’ve waited a long time for that match. 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 to wrestle at the Midands.”
Although he defended his title, Marinelli said he didn’t show everything that he has to offer.
“[Assistant coach Ryan] Morningstar said I’m a lot better than what I perceived today and what I perceived in this whole tournament,” Marinelli said. “I have a lot more to give. I could’ve scored on that last takedown. I was in on his leg, I should’ve drove up and finished and iced it a little bit more, but I have a lot more to give.”
DeSanto came out hot at 133, scoring 8 points in the first period with 3 takedowns and a 2-point near fall. DeSanto added a reversal, 2 more takedowns, and a point for riding time for a 15-5 victory, earning gold at his first Midlands.
But before DeSanto could reach the top of the podium, he had to endure a tough loss by his teammate.
National champion Spencer Lee faced Northwestern’s Sebastian Rivera to start off the final session of the tournament.
Rivera found himself on the board first with a takedown. Lee responded with an escape, making the score 2-1 at the end of the first. Rivera pulled away in the next period, tallying 2 more takedowns. After seven minutes on the mat, Rivera completed the upset of top-seeded Lee, 7-3.
“[Lee’s match] fueled me a little bit,” DeSanto said. “It fueled 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 [Lee]. I don’t want that to happen to anyone on my team.”
Things were close at 141 as well.
Going into the third period, Northern Iowa’s Josh Alber held a 1-point lead over Max Murin. Murin tied it at 1 with an escape, but shortly after, Alber registered a takedown. Murin escaped again, making it 3-2. As Murin scrambled to score a takedown in the last few seconds, Alber gained control and scored 2 more points for a 5-2 decision.
Kaleb Young wrestled top-seeded Ryan Deakin of Northwestern in the 157-pound finals. The score was tied 2-2 with two minutes remaining, but Deakin ruled the third period. Scoring a point for an escape, 2 for a takedown, and a point for riding time, Deakin won, 6-2.
In 2017, Cash Wilcke was the Midlands champion at 197, but he was unable to take that title at 184 this year. Wilcke fell to Northern Iowa’s top-seeded Drew Foster, 3-2, making it the second finals match where a Hawkeye lost to a Panther.
133-pounder Paul Glynn and 197-pounder Jacob Warner both emerged victorious in fifth-place finishes due to medical forfeits. Tony Cassioppi also won his seventh-place match at 285 against a medical forfeit.
Pat Lugo and Jeren Glosser both wrestled for third in the final session of the Midlands tournament. Lugo fell to Sammy Sasso 6-4 in sudden victory, placing 4th at 149. Glosser lost to Zach Hartman 83 in the 157-pound bracket.
The Hawkeyes won their 28th tournment title with ease, posting a score of 184 – 64.5 more than runner-up Northern Iowa.
Iowa will take a two-week break before it wrestles Minnesota on the road on Jan. 13.