With 46% majority from the NCAA Wrestling Twitter poll, Alex Marinelli of the University of Iowa has been named NCAA Wrestler of the Week. The 165-pound freshman rightly claimed this award after leading the Hawkeyes to a pair of conference dual victories over Maryland and Rutgers.
Iowa head coach Tom Brands didn’t make it easy for Marinelli in his first match of the season. Marinelli faced Richie Lewis of Rutgers, a fifth-year senior who, less than two weeks ago, outscored opponents, 45-11 to win a world title. In the long awaited debut, however, the Iowa freshman connected on a pair of takedowns to win 6-4 in sudden victory. Marinelli came in clutch when Iowa, trailing 12-8 in the team score, needed him most.
On top of that, he did it in front of a record crowd of 6,754 Rutgers fans.
After the impressive victory Marinelli told hawkeyesports.com "The crowd was amazing. It's better to wrestle in those environments then going to a dual meet where there are 2,000 fans. I couldn't have wanted anything better for my first match. It didn't go quite like I planned. I have to get to my attack and extend the leg. He was being a little defensive and I tried to push the pace a little bit, but I'm excited to be on this mat."
Wearing a brace on his left knee, Marinelli began the match trailing 2-0 after allowing a first-period takedown. Following the first period, however, Marinelli fought back and scored two takedowns for the wins; the second takedown coming as a match-winner with 21 seconds left in sudden victory. Even better, Marinelli finished off his first weekend free of redshirt late-first period pin over Maryland’s Brendan Burnham. With this fall, Marinelli helped the Hawkeyes claim their 24th straight Big Ten road win.
Health and human physiology major Alex Marinelli of Iowa is the NCAA Wrestler of the Week! The 165-pounder helped lead the Hawkeyes to a pair of B1G wins over Maryland and Rutgers. pic.twitter.com/Ox4y865bA9— NCAA Wrestling (@ncaawrestling) December 14, 2017
A native to Miamisburg, Ohio, Marinelli came to the Iowa from from St. Paris Graham, a nationally renowned high school program where he won 200 career matches along with four state titles. He offered a glimpse of his potential last year, going 13-2 while wrestling unattached with five pins. His only two losses both came at the Midlands against Illinois’ Isaiah Martinez, a two time NCAA champion, and Anthony Valencia, an NCAA qualifier for Arizona State last season. Even with the losses, Marinelli was still able to secure a fourth-place finish. In his redshirted season Marinelli also won two open tournament titles at Grand View and Missouri Valley College opens.
Currently, Marinelli is ranked No. 13 in the country at 165 pounds.The Big Ten Conference weekly honor is the first of Marinelli's career and the second for Iowa this season. The seventh-ranked Hawkeyes return to the mat Dec. 29-30 at the Ken Kraft Midlands Championships.