Iowa wrestling brings experiences with it to Big Tens

Austin DeSanto and Pat Lugo will bring their conference-tournament experience to Big Tens.

Iowa%27s+165-pound+Alex+Marinelli+takes+down+Purdue%27s+Jacob+Morrissey+during+Session+1+of+the+NCAA+Division+1+Wrestling+Championships+at+Quicken+Loans+Arena+in+Cleveland%2C+Ohio+on+Thursday%2C+March+15%2C+2018.+Marinelli+went+on+to+defeat+Morrissey+by+fall+in+6%3A20.+Iowa+leads+the+tournament+with+18.5+team+points+at+the+end+of+Session+1.+
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Iowa wrestling brings experiences with it to Big Tens

Iowa's 165-pound Alex Marinelli takes down Purdue's Jacob Morrissey during Session 1 of the NCAA Division 1 Wrestling Championships at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio on Thursday, March 15, 2018. Marinelli went on to defeat Morrissey by fall in 6:20. Iowa leads the tournament with 18.5 team points at the end of Session 1.

Iowa's 165-pound Alex Marinelli takes down Purdue's Jacob Morrissey during Session 1 of the NCAA Division 1 Wrestling Championships at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio on Thursday, March 15, 2018. Marinelli went on to defeat Morrissey by fall in 6:20. Iowa leads the tournament with 18.5 team points at the end of Session 1.

Ben Smith

Iowa's 165-pound Alex Marinelli takes down Purdue's Jacob Morrissey during Session 1 of the NCAA Division 1 Wrestling Championships at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio on Thursday, March 15, 2018. Marinelli went on to defeat Morrissey by fall in 6:20. Iowa leads the tournament with 18.5 team points at the end of Session 1.

Ben Smith

Ben Smith

Iowa's 165-pound Alex Marinelli takes down Purdue's Jacob Morrissey during Session 1 of the NCAA Division 1 Wrestling Championships at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio on Thursday, March 15, 2018. Marinelli went on to defeat Morrissey by fall in 6:20. Iowa leads the tournament with 18.5 team points at the end of Session 1.

Sarah Altemeier, Sports Reporter

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Half of Iowa’s wrestlers competing at the Big Ten Championships will be there for the very first time, including Max Murin, Jacob Warner, Kaleb Young, Austin DeSanto, and Pat Lugo.

However, DeSanto and Lugo do have experience in conference tournaments. In previous years, DeSanto has wrestled at the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association Championships and Lugo at the Eastern Wrestling League Championships.

Although there’s experience in conference championships, it’s not the same.

“Big Tens are a lot different from the [Eastern League],” Lugo said. “Every guy is tough. You can’t overlook any guy you wrestle. You have to come in with the same mindset, no matter if they guy is ranked No. 1 or he’s not ranked at all.”

Lugo transferred and redshirted at Iowa last season, but in 2017, he placed first at 149 pounds at the Eastern League. In 2016, he placed third, earning a spot at the NCAA Championships in both seasons.

“I haven’t had a taste for it for a couple years, but I’m ready to go,” Lugo said. “My body feels good, my mind is good, and my weight is under control. I’m ready to go. I’ve been dreaming about this my whole life, wrestling in front of a big program like Iowa.”

Last year, DeSanto placed third at the Eastern Association, securing an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships. DeSanto is seeded second in the pre-seed rankings heading into the Big Tens.

DeSanto plans to treat this tournament just as any other.

“It’s like every other tournament — just got to wrestle hard, do the things you need to do, and get it done,” DeSanto said. “My goal is just to wrestle tough, score points, and see what I do out there.”

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One might think that there is a disadvantage to being a new wrestler in a big tournament such as the Big Tens, where the opponents are tougher. But DeSanto does not see this as a disadvantage.

“It is what it is,” he said. “I don’t need to wrestle guys to see how they are. You get the feel, but there’s so much film out there that they can look at, that it might be enough to emulate the feel in the room.”

The other half of Iowa’s squad — Spencer Lee, Alex Marinelli, Mitch Bowman, Cash Wilcke, and Sam Stoll — all have experience at the most difficult conference tournament. Last season, Brandon Sorensen, Lee, and Stoll led the Hawkeyes, placing second, third, and fourth, respectively.

Going into this tournament, Iowa has recorded 199 individual conference titles, and the Hawkeyes will strive to hit the 200-mark on March 10.

“We want to make a statement that we are the Iowa Hawkeyes, and we can be Big Ten champs,” Marinelli said.

The tournament brackets will be completed this afternoon after the Big Ten coaches’ meeting.

The Hawkeyes have seven grapplers seeded in the top five of their respective weight classes: Lee (No. 2), DeSanto (No. 2), Lugo (No. 3), Young (No. 5), Marinelli (No. 2), Wilcke (No. 5), and Warner (No. 3)

Session 1 of the tournament will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday in Williams Arena in Minneapolis.