Grace Smith

Iowa’s No. 2 Alex Marinelli holds Wisconsin’s No. 3 Dean Hamiti during session three of the Big Ten Wrestling Championships at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Neb., on Saturday, March 5, 2022. Marinelli defeated Hamiti in the 165-pound weight class, 4-2. Marinelli heads to his fourth-straight Big Ten final.

Point/Counterpoint | How many Iowa men’s wrestlers will win NCAA titles in 2022?

Two DI staffers debate which Iowa men’s wrestlers will win championships in 2022.

March 8, 2022



Alex Marinelli isn’t usually the only Iowa men’s wrestler I trust to win in big moments. But he is this year.

It’s not that I think other Hawkeyes don’t have what it takes to be clutch in big moments. Rather, Iowa is just too banged up to win when it matters.

Four of the Hawkeyes’ 10 wrestlers that competed in 2022 Big Ten Championships dropped out of the event with injuries.

Senior 141-pounder Jaydin Eierman and junior heavyweight Tony Cassioppi both medically forfeited Big Ten Championship Finals matches.

Senior 174-pounder Michael Kemerer bowed out of the tournament in the semifinals after suffering an injury against Ohio State’s Ethan Smith in the quarterfinals. True freshman 125-pounder Drake Ayala forfeited his seventh-place match against Rutgers’ Devin Shawver.

Kemerer and Ayala have both sported braces on their left shoulders this season. “KemDawg” has done so since he made his season debut on Jan. 7. Ayala has worn his support apparatus since Feb. 20. He missed three of the Hawkeyes’ regular season duals with an injury.

In multiple duals this season, Eierman appeared to be dislodging and relocating one of his fingers. Though, that isn’t likely the result of a long-term injury or the reason he didn’t wrestle Penn State’s Nick Lee in the conference finals. The Cedar Rapids Gazette reported that Eiereman was dealing with knee issues when he forfeited to Lee.

The injury Cassioppi suffers from is unclear. Regardless, the Hawkeyes don’t have a lot of healthy bodies right now. Even senior 133-pounder Austin DeSanto had his hand taped up for his Big Ten Championship Finals match against Roman Bravo-Young.

I think Marinelli is the healthiest guy available to the Hawkeyes right now. I know he’s famously struggled at the NCAA Championships. But I think this year’s NCAA Tournament could be Marinelli’s to win.

With his Big Ten Championship Finals win over Michigan’s Cameron Amine, Marinelli became just the 17th four-time conference champion in Big Ten history. It’s hard to deny the momentum a win like that builds.

Not all bad luck lasts forever, and I think Marinelli’s NCAA Championship curse ends this year.


After Iowa men’s wrestler Alex Marinelli stood atop the 165-pound podium at last weekend’s Big Ten Championships, I’m confident that it’s now time for “The Bull” to capture a national championship.

Marinelli has underperformed in each of his previous two trips to the national tournament. In both 2019 and 2021, Marinelli entered the event as the No. 1 seed at 165 pounds. Both times, however, he lost in the quarterfinal round.

In his final run at the NCAA Championships this season, the four-time Big Ten champ has all the motivation he could possibly need. He has a loss this season, knows he doesn’t have another shot at a national championship next year, and in his words, ‘everyone remembers a national champ, so we got more to do.’

Marinelli will be joined as an individual champion by Iowa’s 141-pounder Jaydin Eierman.

Eierman, like many of the Iowa starters, has had a longer-than-normal college wrestling career. His journey actually began at Missouri in 2015-16. He took an Olympic redshirt in 2019-20. Then, Eierman joined the Hawkeyes’ roster in 2020-21.

Eierman has qualified for the NCAA Championships four times. He’s advanced to at least the event’s quarterfinals on four occasions.

Eierman recently medically forfeited a Big Ten Championship Finals match to Penn State’s Nick Lee. In the last two years, Lee is the only wrestler Eierman has lost to.

Counting his recent medical default, two of Eierman’s last three matches with Lee have ended in sudden victory.

All the signs seem to be pointing to national titles for Eierman and Marinelli. Neither has risen to the top of college wrestling before. This year, they’ll finally get it done.

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