Top-ranked Hawkeyes ready for clash at Carver

No. 1 Iowa's ties with No. 4 Ohio State run deep, but the Hawkeyes won't let that hold them back as they collide with the Buckeyes at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa's 165-pound Alex Marinelli defeats Nebraska's Isaiah White during a wrestling dual meet between Iowa and Nebraska at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Jan. 18. Marinelli won by decision, 4-3, and the Hawkeyes defeated the Huskers, 26-6.

Austin Hanson, Assistant Sports Editor

Since 1983, Carver-Hawkeye Arena has served as one of the biggest stages in all of collegiate wrestling. For All-American Alex Marinelli, the stage will likely feel larger than ever tonight.

For the first time in Marinelli’s career, Iowa will host Ohio State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

“I’ve never wrestled Ohio State in Carver,” Marinelli said. “I went there and wrestled in [the Schottenstein Center], and that was cool, but to get [the Buckeyes] at Carver is special.”

Marinelli’s hometown is Miamisburg, Ohio, just 76.5 miles from Columbus.

At St. Paris Graham high school, Marinelli was a four-time Ohio State Individual champion. He went 200-4 during his high school career, leading his team to four consecutive state titles and one national title.

Marinelli’s ties to the Buckeyes run deeper than his high school career or hometown.

“I’ve got a former teammate on the coaching staff and on the team, the Jordans,” Marinelli said.

Rocky Jordan is a redshirt freshman at Ohio State and is listed in the Buckeyes’ probable lineup at 184-pounds. The St. Paris Graham high school alum is 22-4 this season and ranked 22nd at his weight by Trackwrestling.

Jordan’s brother, Bo, is on Ohio State’s coaching staff. Bo was an All-American in all four years of his career as a Buckeye wrestler from 2015-18.

Bo and Rocky’s father, Jeff Jordan, coached Marinelli in high school at St. Paris Graham.

Marinelli isn’t the only person in Iowa’s wrestling room with connections to Ohio State. Hawkeye head coach Tom Brands and Buckeye head coach Tom Ryan both wrestled for Iowa.

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Under legendary head coach Dan Gable, Ryan and Brands carried Iowa to two NCAA team championships in 1991 and 1992. Gable’s 1992 Hawkeyes were undefeated.

Fast-forwarding to 2019-20, the Hawkeyes are, once again, undefeated. In the way of Brands’ top-ranked Hawkeyes are Ryan’s fourth-ranked Buckeyes.

Ohio State has won three Big Ten Conference championships in the last five years. The Buckeyes were also national champions in 2015.

“How do you get ready to go for a tough schedule? You do it week to week and opponent to opponent,” Brands said. “You’re looking for characteristics. You’re not dwelling on things that your opponent does.”

Since Iowa’s last title in 2010, the Hawkeyes have chased the likes Ohio State and Penn State, but in 2020 the tables have seemingly turned.

“It’s pretty cool that every time people come in here, they’re trying to make a statement,” senior Michael Kemerer said. “We’re protecting our home arena. We’re going to make a statement, too. It makes it fun.”

Despite their top ranking, the Hawkeyes aren’t overlooking any of their opponents.

“You just got to be ready,” Kemerer said. “You can’t just look at a guy wrestling another guy and be like, ‘Oh I got this,’ because that guy is going to give you his absolute best match when he comes to wrestle you.”

Iowa will certainly not overlook any of the Buckeyes hitting the mat tonight. Two OSU wrestlers are ranked first in their weight class.

No. 1 Luke Pletcher is slated to take on No. 9 Max Murin at 141-pounds. In addition, No. 1 Kollin Moore and No. 6 Jacob Warner will likely meet in the 197-pound bout. Moore and Plethcher are both undefeated this season.

“It’s going to be a war,” Marinelli said. “My teammates are ready. We’re having fun in the [wrestling room]. We’re embracing everything, and it’s just a blast to compete, honestly. We’re having fun out there. This coaching staff has put us in the position to win a national title.”

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