Marinelli doesn’t disappoint in latest duel with Joseph

The two 165-pounders met up again in the conference finals and the matchup lived up to the hype.


Nichole Harris

Iowa’s 165-pound Alex Marinelli grapples with Penn State’s Vincenzo Joseph during the final session of the Big Ten Wrestling Tournament in Piscataway, N.J. on Sunday, March 8, 2020. Marinelli won by decision 3-2, securing the 165-pound championship, and Iowa won the team title with 157.5 points.

Robert Read, Sports Editor

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Alex Marinelli versus Vincenzo Joseph never disappoints. It certainly didn’t at the 2020 Big Ten Championships.

Marinelli secured a takedown with 15 seconds remaining in the third period to take the lead and secure his second consecutive Big Ten title. It is also the second year in a row Marinelli has defeated Penn State’s top-seeded Joseph in the finals.

“I love competing with that guy,” Marinelli said. “He’s very competitive and so am I, so it’s always fireworks every time we wrestle. I love it as a competitor.”

Marinelli and Joseph, a two-time NCAA Champion, have met two other times outside of the Big Ten Championships. In a 2018 dual, Marinelli upset his Penn State opponent with a 9-6 decision in Pennsylvania.

Earlier this season, Joseph handed Marinelli the first loss of his Carver-Hawkeye Arena career when the Nittany Lions and Hawkeyes met on Jan. 31.

Marinelli knew he was likely going to see Joseph again for a Big Ten title.

“When it’s the Big Ten Tournament, you know you’re going to have to beat the guy on the other side of the bracket if you want to win the tournament,” Marinelli said. “He was on my mind but I was just taking it a match at a time. I have great coaches that preach staying in your match, tackling that one and then the next one and then the next one.”

With the experience the two 165-pounders have with each other, it was tough for one of them to find an apparent advantage.

The two countered moves and most of the bout was tied at 1-1 until Marinelli’s takedown.

“[Marinelli] applied pressure the whole time,” Iowa head coach Tom Brands said. “There’s a lot of things there, it was hard wrestling and we didn’t hang. So when [Joseph] went into those positions, we’re not hanging. That’s why [Joseph] never really could get on our elbow where he could really cinch us. We don’t want to be dilly dallying it around in there.”

A fifth matchup between Marinelli and Vincenzo could be coming up at the NCAA Championships. They will likely be the top two seeds in the national tournament.

Marinelli could not carry the momentum from his Big Ten title into NCAAs last season. He finished seventh in the country after being upset in the quarterfinals. The junior is focused on making sure the results are different this time around.

“I’ve got to keep my tools sharp,” Marinelli said. “Last year I won Big Tens, and then I don’t know if I got too confident or what. [Former Iowa wrestler Thomas Gillman] reminded me that when you’re in a battle, you can’t let your tools get left out in the rain. You’ve got to keep them sharp. They can’t get rusty. The next couple days, I’ve got to keep my tools sharp, keep my attacks sharp. [Gillman’s] good with all those metaphors.”

After his upset over Joseph, Marinelli will likely be the top seed in the NCAA Championships.

Between now and then, Marinelli said he won’t be found on the golf course or enjoying the spring weather. He’ll be in the wrestling room looking to become the latest in a long line of national champion Hawkeyes.

“I haven’t gotten a national title yet, and ever since I was little I ended my wrestling season off with a state title,” Marinelli said. “I never lost the state tournament. Going through these last couple years, losing sucks. You can’t spend the summer the way you want to. It’s always in the back of your mind and for a real competitor, that haunts people.”

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