Iowa men’s wrestler Alex Marinelli claims fourth individual Big Ten Championship

“The Bull” became the first Hawkeye to win four career conference titles since Mark Ironside did so in 1998.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa’s No. 2 Alex Marinelli raises his hand after earning first place during session five of the Big Ten Wrestling Championships at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Neb., on Sunday, March 6, 2022. Marinelli defeated Michigan’s No. 4 Cameron Amine in a 165-pound match, 2-1.

Austin Hanson, Sports Editor

As Michigan hoisted the 2022 Big Ten Men’s Wrestling Championship trophy, Iowa’s Alex Marinelli stood by himself matside. When the Wolverines were done celebrating, “The Bull” disappeared down one of Pinnacle Bank Arena’s tunnels while Queen’s “We are the Champions” faded from venue speakers.

A little over an hour earlier, Marinelli had won his fourth consecutive individual Big Ten title. He’s eighth Hawkeye to win four league championships, and the first to do so since Mark Ironside won his last title in 1998.

“I’m really, really thankful and blessed,” Marinelli said of his fourth Big Ten crown. “I got to wrestle in a lot of Big Ten Championships, and I got it done. But everyone remembers the national champ. So, we’ve got more to do, right?”

Marinelli beat Michigan’s Cameron Amine, 2-1, in the tournament finals to complete his four-peat. He also downed Wisconsin’s Dean Hamiti and Penn State’s Creighton Edsell on his way to the conference finals.

“He’s pretty gutsy,” Iowa men’s wrestling head coach Tom Brands said of Marinelli. “He’s been a fan favorite. His mark on our program is far and wide and deep. We love him. And he joins some good company with four Big Ten Championships. Good for him. Good for our program.”

Marinelli’s journey to his fourth league championship wasn’t without its ups and downs. The senior 165-pounder suffered a 3-2 loss to Ohio State’s Carson Kharchla at the Covelli Center in Columbus on Jan. 21.

Marinelli said he was hoping for a rematch with Kharchla in the Big Ten Championship Finals, but he didn’t get it.

“If I wouldn’t have lost that match [in January], I don’t think I would’ve evaluated my wrestling like I should have,” Marinelli said. “I lost that match and I knew I beat myself. If I lose, it’s because I beat myself, every single time. I feel like that. I’m my toughest opponent. It got me better.”

Marinelli has never finished better than sixth in the NCAA Men’s Wrestling Championships. Last season, he lost to Stanford’s Shane Grifith, who eventually won a national title at 165 pounds.

Marinelli suffered a rib injury at the end of his bout with Griffith. He then dropped out of the tournament via injury default.

Marinelli told reporters he feels healthy heading into this year’s NCAA Championships, adding that he’s ready to use everything he’s learned in past national tournaments to climb his way to the top of the heap at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit March 17-19.

“I feel really good,” Marinelli said. “Obviously, I’m sore. If you’re not sore, then I don’t really know if you worked that hard. But yeah, I’m feeling really, really good. My knees are good. My shoulders are good. My rib is good.”

While Marinelli finished the Big Ten Championships at the top of the podium, the Hawkeyes still didn’t meet their expectations for the tournament. Iowa finished third in the final standings with 129.5 points, trailing Penn State’s 141.5 and Michigan’s 143. Iowa came into the event ranked second in the nation behind Penn State.

Hawkeye true freshman 125-pounder Drake Ayala, 141-pounder Jaydin Eierman, 174-pounder Michael Kemerer, and heavyweight Tony Cassioppi all exited the 2022 Big Ten Tournament via medical forfeit.

“We made the best decision for individuals going forward,” Brands said. “And that’s not the story. There’s tough decisions to be made every day. This is an important event. Our record demonstrates that we are serious about competing for championships, but we will also make tough decisions when we have to. But the story should be about Alex Marinelli winning his fourth title. That’s a big deal. That’s rare company.

“The story should be, we’re going to Detroit,” Brands added. “We got 10 guys going to Detroit. We’re third in the [Big Ten] team race. That’s not where we want to be. That’s not where we like to sit. We have an opportunity to do something about it moving forward.”

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