Iowa wrestling ready to complete ‘unfinished business’

The favorites to win the 2020 NCAA Championships are ready to pursue a national championship in 2021.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa’s Alex Marinelli has blood cleaned off his face during a wrestling dual meet between No. 1 Iowa and No. 2 Penn State at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday, Jan. 31, 2020. The Hawkeyes defeated the Nittany Lions, 19-17.

Isaac Goffin, Assistant Sports Editor

The Iowa wrestling team was the favorite to win the 2020 NCAA Championships in eyes of pundits and fans alike.

But, a week before the 2020 tournament was slated to begin, the NCAA canceled it because of COVID-19.

With Iowa wrestling’s 2020-21 season starting Jan. 15 against Nebraska in Iowa City, the Hawkeyes are focused on taking things one step at a time while also working toward the goal of winning their first team national championship since 2010.

In the 2019-20 season, the Hawkeyes were 13-0 overall and 9-0 in the Big Ten, with many wins coming in dominant fashion. Iowa also won the 2019-20 Big Ten Championships and has nine All-Americans returning in 2021.

“I don’t know if it’s even something that we really have to talk about that much,” three-time All-American Michael Kemerer said. “It’s kind of understood. I mean we know the way that things finished last year, that it just kind of leaves a taste in your mouth that it sticks with you a little bit, so I think we all kind of understand that. The unfished business thing that’s a good way to describe it and I think we got a lot of motivated guys that didn’t get to wrestle the national tournament last year and so you got some really, really motivated guys now.”

Senior and three-time All-American Alex Marinelli said the coaching staff is stressing what the Hawkeyes do have control of this season, rather than things that are uncontrollable. The coaching staff is also emphasizing wrestlers’ edges, which Marinelli said are nutrition, sleeping, and how they train or think. Marinelli believes if the Hawkeyes have all those things in order, they can be effective on the mat.

Typically, the collegiate wrestling season starts in November, but the 2020-21 season is starting in January. Despite the unusual start, the end of the 2020-21 collegiate wrestling season will look similar to past years with the Big Ten Championships being held March 6 and 7 and the NCAA Championships taking place March 18-20. The Hawkeyes will compete in a conference-only regular season schedule that includes five dual meets and two triangular meets.

“We have Nebraska coming up and I’ve talked with a lot of my buddies and teammates and we’re like, ‘Man, Nebraska, they’re a tough opponent,’” Marinelli said. “They’re always a super worthy opponent and it’s always a fun dual meet with them and it’s pretty cool that we start off with a Big Ten dual meet right off the bat.”

There will be no fans inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena this season as only student-athletes’ immediate families will be allowed to attend meets. But, for heavyweight Tony Cassioppi, wrestling is still the same sport, with or without fans.

“That really doesn’t change anything for me,” Cassioppi said. “I don’t really focus on that stuff it’s just a wrestling match, wrestling circle. I’m going to put my foot on that line and wrestle like I always do. Doesn’t matter if there’s tons of people or nobody. It’s my wrestling. My wrestling is entertaining not necessarily for the crowd but for myself because that’s how I want to wrestle.”

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