Alex Marinelli's four-peat highlights battered Iowa wrestling's showing at Big Ten championships

Cody Goodwin
Hawk Central

LINCOLN, Neb. — When the Iowa wrestling coaching staff recruited Alex Marinelli, they sent him messages of what they believed he could do. It became a to-do list for his career:

Big Ten champion.

NCAA champion.

World and Olympic champion.

Actually, Marinelli says that first one wasn’t a singular accomplishment. The goal wasn’t to win just once. The goal was to win four.

“Four-time Big Ten champ,” he continues. “I’m thankful God put me in this position. I’ve wrestled at five Big Ten Championships. Not many get to say that, so I got a chance to win four.”

On Sunday evening, Marinelli became a four-time Big Ten champ. He beat Michigan’s Cameron Amine, 2-1, in the finals at 165 pounds. He is the 17th four-time conference tournament champ in Big Ten history, and the eighth to do it from Iowa.

It’s a heck of a list he’s joining, too:

  • Joe Scarpello, 1970-71-72-73
  • Mike DeAnna, 1977-78-79-81
  • Ed Banach, 1980-81-82-83
  • Barry Davis, 1983-84-85-86
  • Duane Goldman, 1983-84-85-86
  • Jim Heffernan, 1983-85-86-87
  • Mark Ironside, 1995-96-97-98

Get this: Ironside won his fourth Big Ten title on March 8, 1998 — 30 days exactly after Marinelli was born. Ironside does color commentary for Iowa wrestling’s home radio broadcasts, and sat up in media row to call Marinelli’s win over Amine, which came thanks to a second stall call in the second period (they traded escapes otherwise).

Marinelli’s victory was the lone individual highlight for an Iowa team that ultimately took a backseat to both Michigan and Penn State in a thrilling team race. The Hawkeyes took third with 129.5 team points while the Wolverines put up 143 to win the team title, their 12th all-time and first since 1973. Penn State scored 141.5 to finish second.

All 10 Hawkeye wrestlers finished in the top-8 at their respective weights. More importantly, all 10 qualified for the 2022 NCAA Championships, set for March 17-19 at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit. 

Marinelli was one of four total finalists for Iowa, though only two of them ultimately took the mat during Sunday’s championship round. Austin DeSanto was the other, at 133 pounds, and he lost, 3-1, to Penn State’s Roman Bravo-Young. The other two, Jaydin Eierman (141) and Tony Cassioppi (285), both medically-defaulted to take second.

Iowa's Alex Marinelli reacts after scoring a decision at 165 pounds in the finals during the third session of the Big Ten Wrestling Championships on Sunday at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska.

That was a theme throughout Sunday’s final day of competition, actually. There were 12 results that went on the books as medical forfeits in the medal round alone. Only two weights, 157 and 197, wrestled all four of their placement matches. 

Iowa was both a beneficiary of that theme — Max Murin took third at 149 and Abe Assad took seventh at 184, both by medical forfeit — but also played a role in that theme, medically-forfeiting in the finals at both 141 and 285, and also 125, where Drake Ayala took eighth, and 174, where Michael Kemerer finished sixth.

Elsewhere: Kaleb Young (157) and Jacob Warner (197) both finished fourth. They took the identical paths, losing in the quarterfinals on Saturday then winning three straight wrestleback matches to reach the third-place match. There, Young lost to Penn State’s Brady Berge, 3-1 in overtime, and Warner lost to Michigan’s Pat Brucki, 3-1.

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