Iowa wrestling's Alex Marinelli tops Patrick Kennedy, Jesse Ybarra wrestles attached at Luther Open

Cody Goodwin
Hawk Central

DECORAH — The crowd at Luther College’s Regents Center got a treat on Saturday afternoon in the form of a high-profile Hawkeye-on-Hawkeye wrestling match, between Alex Marinelli and Patrick Kennedy.

Marinelli defeated Kennedy, 3-2, in the finals at 165 pounds here at the Luther Open. Marinelli scored a takedown on the edge in the third period to win. It was the highlight result from the Iowa wrestling program’s season-opening competition.

The match itself had the feel of an intense wrestle-off. The entire gym stopped to watch when they shook hands to wrestle. Kennedy spent much of the match on the attack, peppering Marinelli with shots all seven minutes. Marinelli countered with a veteran’s savvy. It was clear these two wrestle each other in the room often.

The match-deciding takedown was vintage Marinelli. With 30 seconds left, he level-changed into a body lock, took Kennedy to the edge and outside-tripped him for two. Opportunities like that in matches like these are rare. Marinelli created it and capitalized on it.

Iowa's Alex Marinelli warms up before a NCAA Hawkeyes men's wrestling intrasquad match, Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021, at the Dan Gable Wrestling Complex in Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.

Previously:Iowa wrestling's Abe Assad, Alex Marinelli, Patrick Kennedy impress in intrasquad matches

Both guys raced to the finals with ease, racking up two technical falls and a pin each, collectively outscoring their first six opponents by a combined 103-25 in the process. Marinelli is still working his way back into his top form after spending much of the offseason healing from separated ribs. Kennedy is, well, really, really good.

Then they put on a show — a low-scoring show, but a show all the same. The crowd gave both wrestlers a hand when the match ended. 

The last time two Hawkeyes had a high-profile matchup here was likely the Cory Clark-Thomas Gilman showdown during the ’13-14 season. Clark won that match, then Gilman won the Midlands Championships two months later, but Clark was ultimately chosen for the postseason, and finished fifth at the NCAA Championships that March.

We could’ve seen a similar back-and-forth battle unfold this season had Kennedy won on Saturday. We may still see that this season, with other competitions on the calendar — most notably the Midlands Championships in late December.

This will be an intriguing development to follow over the next few months — between Alex Marinelli, a three-time Big Ten champ and two-time All-American, and Patrick Kennedy, who appears hungry as ever and more than ready for the big stage.

More:Iowa Hawkeye wrestling returns plenty of firepower from national championship squad

Iowa's Patrick Kennedy wrestles during a NCAA Hawkeyes men's wrestling intrasquad match, Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021, at the Dan Gable Wrestling Complex in Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.

Jesse Ybarra wrestled attached

There were many interesting Iowa wrestling developments here at the Luther Open, but perhaps the most notable one — outside of the action at 165 — was Jesse Ybarra wrestling attached at 125 pounds.

Ybarra, the freshman from Arizona, wore Iowa’s all-black singlet, signaling that he will not be redshirting this season. In his first live competition in a long while, he went 3-0 to take first, outscoring his opponents 28-10 along the way. He scored nine takedowns and allowed none. In the finals, he beat Nathan Rankin from the University of the Ozarks, 7-5.

It stands to reason that Ybarra could be the guy who might go for the Hawkeyes this season when Spencer Lee does not. Lee, the three-time NCAA champion, may not wrestle every dual or competition in an effort to keep him rested and ready for March. That’s the working theory here, anyways. 

More:Iowa wrestler Tony Cassioppi is a leaner and meaner heavyweight this season. Here’s why.

Ybarra came to Iowa as a highly-credentialed prospect. He was a Cadet freestyle national champion in 2018, a finalist at the Cadet world team trials in 2019, and was considered the No. 18 overall prospect in the 2020 class.

Him potentially getting some run at 125 pounds, against top-tier competition, will be another intriguing development to follow this season.

Iowa's Jesse Ybarra wrestles during a NCAA Hawkeyes men's wrestling intrasquad match, Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, at the Dan Gable Wrestling Complex in Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.

Reyna, Siebrecht impress at 149

Three Hawkeye wrestlers competed at 149 pounds: Vince Turk, Cobe Siebrecht, and Bretli Reyna. All of them made the semifinals. Reyna was the only one of the three to compete unattached, but he put forth an impressive performance on Saturday.

Reyna beat Turk, 6-5 in overtime, in the semifinals. Reyna scored a takedown and a reversal to lead 4-3 after the first period, fought off two good shots from Turk on the edge in sudden victory, escaped early in the first half of the 30-second tiebreaker, then rode out Turk in the second half to win it.

Siebrecht made the final, too, downing a pair of Division III all-stars along the way. In the quarterfinals, he beat Wartburg’s Brady Fritz, 16-1. In the semifinals, he rallied from down 4-1 to defeat another Wartburg wrestler, Kris Rumph, 6-4. Both guys have previously made the Division III national finals.

Siebrecht and Reyna didn’t end up wrestling in the final, and Turk bounced back in the wrestlebacks and beat Rumph, 12-1, to finish third. And all of these guys are starting the year behind Max Murin, the returning starter at 149.

The point: there’s good, quality depth for Iowa at this weight. 

Iowa's Bretli Reyna, left, wrestles Caleb Rathjen during a NCAA Hawkeyes men's wrestling intrasquad match, Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021, at the Dan Gable Wrestling Complex in Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.

DeSanto tops Schriever again at 133

Austin DeSanto again beat Cullan Schriever at 133 pounds, this time 8-4 in the Luther Open finals. This was a rematch from their intrasquad match earlier this month (and who knows how many in-the-room battles they've had).

Much like their intrasquad match, DeSanto scored three first-period takedowns. Schriever battled back, and converted his own takedown late in the second period to come within 7-4. Schriever got in on more shots throughout the third period, but struggled to finish on DeSanto — who gets a lot of love for his offensive motor but is also a savvy defender.

DeSanto, a two-time All-American, is clearly going to be Iowa’s guy at 133 pounds this season, but Schriever continues to improve and progress the more he competes — and especially when he competes against DeSanto. 

Other Notes And Thoughts …

  • Leif Schroeder notched two nice wins at 141 pounds, over Coe’s Brock Henderson by fall (while up 14-2), and Wartburg’s Zayren Terukina, rallying from down 3-2 to win 5-3.
  • Jacob Warner and Zach Glazier both took care of business at 197 — Warner went 3-0 with two pins and a major decision; Glazier went 2-0 with a pin and 6-2 win — but did not wrestle in the finals. Warner beat Glazier, 6-2, in the intrasquad matchup last week.
  • Jaydin Eierman, Kaleb Young and Aaron Costello all went undefeated. Eierman recorded two pins at 141; Young recorded two pins, a major and a technical fall and outscored his four opponents 41-8 at 157; Costello went 2-0 with a pin and technical fall at 285.
  • Brennan Swafford and Abe Assad both took second. Swafford lost 5-2 to Wartburg’s Zane Mulder, a one-time Iowa State wrestler and Division III national finalist, in the finals at 174. Assad won by major and pin, then lost to Clayton Whiting, a high school senior from Oconto Falls, Wisconsin, in the finals at 184. Whiting, the No. 38 overall prospect on MatScouts’ 2022 Big Board and Missouri recruit, scored a takedown with 36 seconds left to beat Assad, 4-3.

Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.