Iowa men’s wrestler Max Murin takes ‘next best thing,’ wins third place at Big Ten Championships

The Hawkeye 149-pounder dropped his semifinal match in the main bracket on Saturday but went 2-0 on Sunday to secure the third-place conference title in his weight class.


Daniel McGregor-Huyer

Iowa’s No. 4 seeded 149-pound Max Murin wrestles Michigan State’s No. 13 seeded 149-pound Peyton Omania during session one of the Big Ten Wrestling Championships at Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Mich. on Saturday, March 4, 2023.

Matt McGowan, Sports Reporter

ANN ARBOR — Iowa men’s wrestler Max Murin didn’t accomplish his goal at the 2023 Big Ten Championships last weekend. The Hawkeye 149-pounder was bounced from the main bracket in the semifinal round, but he still had an opportunity laid before him: third place.

“If I’ve learned one thing since I’ve been here at Iowa, it’s always, ‘Get the next best thing,’” Murin said during media availability after his podium ceremony. “It’s not what I wanted or what I came here to do, but I took the loss in the semis and the mission stayed the same. Get the next best thing.”

In his final season wrestling in a Black and Gold singlet, Murin entered the consolation bracket and never looked back, winning two matches on Sunday to secure third overall at 149 pounds. With 134.5 team points, Iowa finished second to Penn State’s 147.

Murin entered the consolation bracket after his loss to Ohio State’s top-seeded Sammy Sasso in the championship bracket semifinals. The Hawkeye was 0-2 in his career against the Buckeye heading into the match. In their third dual, Murin conceded eight points to Sasso — the most points given up by Murin in the tournament.

“He really wasn’t in the game against Ohio State; we’ve got to be in the game,” Iowa wrestling head coach Tom Brands said. “We’ve got to be efficient in scoring points, that’s coming up, that’s why we got to talk about this stuff.”

En route to third place, Murin was involved in two matches that were cut short due to injury.

He was the winner of his first-round matchup in the championship bracket after his opponent, Michigan State’s 13th-seed Peyton Omania, hit his head on the mat during a reversal and went into concussion protocol. Then, in the semifinals of the consolation bracket, Murin plowed Northwestern No. 3 seed Yahya Thomas to the edge of the mat, where Thomas was shaken up and was not allowed to return.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever had a match that ended early because of a concussion protocol, but having two in the same tournament is pretty rare, pretty crazy,” Murin said. “I hope those guys are doing good; definitely not what I’m used to, though. The thing about the postseason is constantly making adjustments and keep on moving forward.

“I had [assistant head coach Terry Brands] chirp in my ear the whole time,” Murin added. “I was sitting there relaxing, and Terry just kept speaking in my ear, speaking in my ear about things I need to do, things I need to focus on. Terry Brands is the best coach in the world, in my opinion, so having him in my corner is like nothing else. My confidence is extremely high and whatever he says, I believe.”

Murin matched up against Nittany Lion Shayne Van Ness twice in the tournament — first in the championship quarterfinals and next in the third-place match.

The two wrestled once in the regular season, and Murin took down Van Ness via decision, 4-1, in Happy Valley in January. Murin dropped the Nittany Lion in another close bout in the quarterfinals, eking out a 4-2 victory.

Their third-place title match was no different.

After a scoreless 1:30 in the first period, Murin struck first with a takedown. In the second period, Van Ness knotted the match with his own takedown. Tied at two apiece in the third, Murin gained the lead for good with an escape and won, 3-2.

Murin’s final matches for Iowa will be in the NCAA championships in Tulsa, Oklahoma, March 16-18. There, Murin and the Hawkeyes hope to achieve the next best thing.

“Definitely making some adjustments, getting back to work,” Murin said. “But it’s more mental stuff; I’m ready to go, my whole team is ready to go. So, just make those little adjustments and at the end of the day, we’re ready, we feel good, we’re excited.”