Marinelli uses knowledge from past matches in Big Ten title run

Alex Marinelli fueled his run to the top of the podium at the Big Ten Championships with things he learned in the past.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa’s Alex Marinelli is awarded first in the 165-lb weight class during the fourth session of the 2019 Big Ten Wrestling Championships in Minneapolis, MN on Sunday, March 10, 2019.

Pete Ruden, Sports Editor

MINNEAPOLIS – Alex Marinelli’s post-match interview with Big Ten Network after becoming a Big Ten champion on Sunday was the only silent one out of 10. The award ceremony following his monumental victory? Also silent.

But his performance was louder than any interview or ceremony could have been.

After his Big Ten Championships took a disastrous turn in 2017, Marinelli made sure the same thing didn’t happen again, becoming Iowa’s 200th individual Big Ten champion with a 9-3 win over No. 1 seed Vincenzo Joseph of Penn State.

The trip to the top of the podium was a long time coming for the 165-pounder who was named co-Outstanding Wrestler of the Championships and lost three matches en route to a sixth-place finish in last season’s tournament.

“It means everything,” Marinelli said. “Coming away with a Big Ten title, it’s huge from last year losing the first match. It’s terrible and you don’t want to feel that way ever again.”

Marinelli certainly didn’t have that feeling when the tournament concluded this time around. As the No. 2 seed, he toppled the No. 1 seed in Joseph with what nearly turned out to be a major decision and beat No. 3 seed Evan Wick for the third time this season.

Before facing Joseph, Marinelli said he watched Joseph’s match with former Illinois 165-pounder Isaiah Martinez from last season’s finals match. Martinez came out on top that night with a 4-1 decision, and Marinelli took note of how stingy and smart he was.

Marinelli used that strategy in his victory over Joseph, picking him apart with a takedown that led to two near fall points in the second period. In the third, he turned what was almost a takedown for Joseph into a takedown of his own for two points and a Big Ten title.

“We’re 2-0 against that guy and that’s a good wrestler,” Iowa head coach Tom Brands said. “We wrestled a high-pace, physical match, and we scored a lot of points, and we kept scoring. It was an exciting match, especially from a Hawkeye point of view, but we never coasted.”

After Spencer Lee fell to Northwestern’s Sebastian Rivera in the 125-pound finals earlier in the night, Marinelli became the Hawkeyes’ only hope for an individual champion.

Marinelli showed his excitement after securing the gold, slapping the mat twice with his six-point advantage before hugging his coaches in the corner.

“It kind of solidifies what I’ve been working for,” Marinelli said. “It makes a statement. That’s what I kind of like to do is make a statement and get my name out there.

“If your name’s out there, they know how to spell it, right? A lot of people don’t know how to spell a lot of names, but if your name’s out there and you’re looking them up, then you know how to spell it, and the only way to do that is to win titles.”

Now, Marinelli’s attention shifts to the NCAA Championships in Pittsburgh on March 21-23.

While a win over the previously undefeated No. 1 seed will certainly boost his confidence, Marinelli knows he needs to keep his mind right heading into the biggest week of the season.

“He also knows that this is just a qualifier,” Brands said. “We’re going to Pittsburgh. Two weeks from [Saturday] is the national finals. That’s on their calendar.”

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