When a big recruit goes undefeated in the regular season and then places sixth in the country at a very tough weight as a freshman, you definitely look forward to the next year.  Now as a sophomore, Alex “Bull” Marinelli has taken his wrestling to another level this season with noticeable improvement.

Marinelli came into the Iowa program as the highest ranked recruit to date in the Tom Brands era out of legendary national powerhouse Graham High School in St. Paris, Ohio. As a four-time state champion, Marinelli was accustomed to winning, being the hunted, and doing what it takes year around to win.  What a perfect fit for Iowa Wrestling.

Alex Marinelli, in my opinion, is the leader of Iowa Wrestling.  He took the reigns of being the leader of the program from Thomas Gilman last year as a freshman.  From what I can see as a fan, Marinelli is the heartbeat of Iowa Wrestling by setting the pace and tone in the practice room and in competition.  Certain people just have that way about them that their presence will lift the attitude and overall intensity level of a room. That is called being a leader.  Marinelli has that.

After an undefeated regular season, Marinelli made the semifinals of the Big Tens and NCAA Championships last year before placing sixth in both tournaments.  165 was a very tough weight class last year and is again this year. However, sixth place is not what Alex Marinelli is about. An off-season of training and development has led to an impressive season to this point.  It is easy to see that Marinelli is much bigger and stronger than last season and more precise with his technique. Currently Marinelli is 11-0 with four pins, three major decisions, and a tech fall.

It was at Midlands that Marinelli’s progress from last year really showed.  In the quarterfinals he had an 8-6 OT win over #19 Jonathan Viruet of Brown.  It was in the next two matches that Marinelli really took his game up a notch.  In the semifinals, Marinelli shut down #5 nationally ranked Josh Schields of Arizona State, 4-1.  In the finals, Marinelli faced #2 nationally ranked Evan Wick of Wisconsin. Wick defeated Marinelli 16-3 in the Consolation Semifinals at the NCAA’s last year.  Marinelli looked very good in defeating Wick, 4-3. The score does not indicate the match due to terrible officiating. Marinelli had the only two takedowns in the match and looked very good against a real tough opponent.    

The Big Ten is crazy loaded at 165.  The top three wrestlers in the country are from the Big Ten in Joseph, Marinelli, and Wick.  Add in #6 White (Nebraska) and #7 Massa (Michigan) and you have an absolutely loaded Big Ten.

For the remaining regular season, Marinelli, currently ranked #2 nationally, will face:

#16 Joey Gunther of Illinois

#6 Isaiah White of Nebraska

#2 Evan Wick of Wisconsin

#11 Chandler Rogers of Oklahoma State

Marinelli will not face #1 ranked and two-time defending NCAA champion Vincenzo Joseph of Penn State until possibly the Big Tens. Marinelli defeated Joseph 9-6 last year in a dual meet at Penn State.

When the leader of your team is showing marked improvement and hungry for success, that is good news for the Iowa program. I look for Marinelli to finish the season strong in his pursuit to be an NCAA National champion by setting the tone and pace for Iowa Wrestling in competition and in the practice room.  Just what a leader does.

It is great to be an Iowa Wrestling fan.

Go Hawks!