Marinelli honors family with a win against Wisconsin

Iowa’s meet with Wisconsin meant more to Alex Marinelli than just wrestling — it was a chance to honor his friend and family.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa’s 165-pound Alex Marinelli wrestles Wisconsin’s Evan Wick during a wrestling match between No.1 Iowa and No. 6 Wisconsin at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019. Marinelli won by decision, 4-2, and the Hawkeyes defeated the Badgers, 32-3.

Anna Kayser, Sports Editor

For No. 2 Alex Marinelli, Iowa’s dual meet against No. 6 Wisconsin was about more than getting up for his match with No. 3 Evan Wick.

Following the win, a documentary titled “Alex and Eli” aired on Big Ten Network. It showcases the friendship between Marinelli and his friend and would-be brother-in-law, Eli Stickley.

Stickley was a wrestler for Wisconsin and was killed in a car crash in the summer of 2018. He was on his way to Iowa City to be there when Marinelli proposed to his twin sister, Moriah.

Marinelli went onto win the Big Ten Championship with a run that was dedicated to Stickley and the bond they formed over wrestling, but it wasn’t just a one-time thing. It’s something that he lives with, day in and day out.

“You honor him every day with your actions, and when something tragic like that happens, you can do nothing to change it except keep the… good times, the memories alive and honor with high level mentality, doing the right thing,” head coach Tom Brands said.

As part of a Wisconsin wrestling family now after marrying Moriah earlier this year, this season’s dual meet was a joint Thanksgiving affair.

“They cooked me a good Thanksgiving meal and got me ready,” Marinelli said. “Them being a part of the Wisconsin family, it does make it a little different, obviously, but it’s something that’s special and I’m going to remember for the rest of my life.”

As for the wrestling, Marinelli beat Wick 4-2 with a takedown in the final 30 seconds of the match. He’s been known to get up for big-time matches, and he did just that with his extended family in the stands.

“Success, marching the right way, being a good leader, that’s how you honor the people that have left you that mean a lot to you, and Alex did that tonight and he has to do that every day,” Brands said. “I remind him of that [from] time-to-time. This isn’t just when there’s a TV show coming out or when we go to Madison. For me, Eli every day.”

Now, whenever Iowa faces Wisconsin, they’re a house-divided but bonded together.

This season, it was an event that people could focus on and link together with something that was greater than wrestling.

“That family will celebrate Eli Stickley for the rest of their lives every day, and Alex Marinelli will do that as well, he’s part of that family,” Brands said. “So, I’m all for it. As far as making it every time we wrestle Wisconsin, hey, whatever gets us ready to go and whatever gets [Marinelli] ready to go.”

Marinelli continues his bid for a repeat Big Ten Championship next week as the Hawkeyes travel to face No. 12 Princeton.


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