Underwood rising senior Alex Thomsen breaks down his day in Lincoln, Neb. at the Junior World Teams Trials. He won his last four matches to finish in "true second."
LINCOLN, Neb. — Underwood’s Alex Thomsen was the only Iowa high school wrestler to qualify for Friday’s Junior World Team Trials.
And he admittedly handled his opening-round loss at 55 kilograms like a kid.
“I took like a 20-minute nap and was kind of walking around, lackadaisical,” Thomsen said.
“(SWIFT club coach Jake Head) came up to me and said, ‘I’ve seen you lose and be done wrestling for the day. Are you going to change that?’
“I didn’t say anything, but I just kind of looked at him. We kind of knew, had a little telekinesis thing going on. I was like, ‘Heck yeah, I’m going to go beat this next kid.’ And I felt 10 times more focused out there.”
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The undefeated, three-time state champion faced older wrestlers in the morning and afternoon challenge tournament, but refused to let the defeat to Arizona State recruit Brandon Courtney keep him down. Even after lounging around his future locker rooms at the Devaney Center — Thomsen committed to Nebraska in May — he woke up for back-to-back technical falls over Minnesota recruit Patrick McKee (10-0) and North Dakota State freshman Paul Bianchi (11-1). He finished with an emphatic 11-0 win on Friday evening to finish in true second-place.
“I was smooth, I hit my shots, it was fun out there again,” Thomsen said.
The future 125-pound prospect found himself already wanting to improve his conditioning and aggressiveness in the freestyle format with two three-minute periods separated by a brief 30-second break. The 7-5 loss to Courtney came after it appeared he could shoot his way to a comeback. Instead, he’ll settle for an excellent experience.
“I love wrestling,” Thomsen said. “We train so much and we don’t get to come out and wrestle very often.
“Today was a good day. I learned from my first match and moved on from there.”
Mark Hall handles Alex Marinelli, again
Iowa freshman Alex Marinelli arrived in Lincoln intent on meeting reigning NCAA and Junior World champion Mark Hall in Friday’s finals. The 165-pound folkstyle prospect got his freestyle wish, but it went the way their previous meetings have. Hall, a 174-pound national title-winner as a Penn State true freshman, left the best-of-three series with his hand raised twice.
Marinelli improved on a 10-0 loss in Friday’s first finals match with a tougher approach in the second match. He scrambled well until jumping into a leg lace and allowing Hall the necessary points to take an 8-3 victory.
“(Marinelli) had a better gameplan and stayed out of those freestyle positions,” Hall said. “He wrestled a lot better. But the difference was turns. I turned him twice.”
Sporting a head bandage from the start, Marinelli outscored his three opponents in the morning’s challenge tournament by a combined score of 26-4.
Big Ten champ beats Iowa, ISU youngsters
Hawkeye recruit Jacob Warner was making the 96-kilogram bracket look easy. Then he ran into the brick wall that was Big Ten Conference champion Kollin Moore, a redshirt freshman at Ohio State who finished third at his first NCAA Championships.
Warner, ranked as the No. 7 overall prospect in the 2017 class by FloWrestling, was impressive in back-to-back 10-0 victories to start the tournament. The first came in less than 90 seconds against Grand View’s Evan Hansen. But Moore rolled Warner up 11-1 in the tournament finals, less than an hour after he did almost the same thing in a 12-2 victory over Iowa State freshman Sam Colbray.
Colbray lost the consolation bracket’s third-place match.
Carter Isley almost hits heavyweight finals
Former Albia standout and Northern Iowa freshman Carter Isley advanced to the finals of Friday’s challenge tournament before dropping a 120-kilogram decision, 3-1. The nimble heavyweight won 4-0 and 3-1 in the seven-man bracket, then ran into Lehigh’s former Cadet World qualifier Jordan Wood.
Former Albia prep Carter Isley made it to the finals of Friday's 120-kilogram challenge tournament at the Junior World Team Trials.
“I need to open up more,” Isley said. “I get in these big tournaments and kind of freeze down…I just need to let it go and let it loose.”
Isley led the Panthers in pins last season while redshirting.
Staying busy at 66 kilograms
Friday’s biggest and deepest bracket featured 21 qualifiers plus eventual champion Ryan Deakin at 66 kilos. Iowa put two freshmen in the division, with Jeren Glosser and Keegan Shaw winning a couple matches.
Iowa State’s Kanen Storr entered as the top seed and, after withstanding a close contest from Indiana star prep Brayton Lee in the round of 32, stayed incredibly active all day. Storr won three matches before noon and suffered an exhausting semifinal loss to former Edinboro standout Patricio Lugo. The Cyclone Regional Training Center rep won once more before dropping the consolation’s third-place final. Storr was on the mat for a total of 31 minutes and 40 seconds in his six matches.