Well, this is a heck of a way to get your Iowa career underway. Just two matches into his official Iowa career, Alex Marinelli has already earned his first Big Ten Wrestler of the Week award:
Alex Marinelli of @Hawks_Wrestling earns #B1GWrestle Wrestler of the Week honors after leading the seventh-ranked Hawkeyes to a pair of conference dual-meet victories | https://t.co/lve6dA6MuQ pic.twitter.com/59EBOUmaNT
— Big Ten Wrestling (@B1GWrestling) December 12, 2017
Marinelli was also named Wrestler of the Week by The Open Mat:
— TheOpenMat.com (@theopenmat) December 12, 2017
After missing Iowa's first five duals of the season while recovering from a meniscus injury, Marinelli made his season -- and overall -- debut this past weekend in Iowa's dual meets with Rutgers and Maryland. He got tossed right into the deep end, too, facing Rutgers' Richie Lewis, ranked #7 at 157 lbs and fresh off a gold medal-winning performance at the U23 World Championships a few weeks ago, in his first match on Friday night. Marinelli answered that challenge with aplomb, though -- after giving up the opening takedown, the match was almost all Marinelli. He used escapes in the first and second period to tie the match, then took the lead with a takedown in the second period. Lewis tied the match with escapes of his own in the second and third periods, but the attacking impetus was almost all Marinelli in the second and third periods and he worked a hard tempo that seemed to tire Lewis. Then, in sudden victory, Marinelli came out on top in a scramble situation to secure the winning takedown. 165 was one of the pivotal bouts in the dual and Marinelli's win helped swing the tide firmly in Iowa's favor.
Marinelli drew a much easier opponent against Maryland -- Brendan Burnham entered the match 7-4, but he had no wins of note and all four of his losses had come via bonus points. Marinelli made that stat five-for-five with a thoroughly dominant performance. He got to Burnham's legs with ease and finished three takedowns in the first period. After the third takedown, Marinelli decided to stop playing with his food and horsed Burnham to his back with ease and got the pin, the first official pin of his Iowa career.
Overall, not a bad way to make your Iowa debut. Marinelli was a Top 3 overall recruit in the 2016 recruiting class and one of the biggest recruiting gets in Tom Brands' tenure at Iowa (at least until nabbing Spencer Lee in 2017). He arrived at Iowa with heady expectations and while there's still a long way to go, this debut was a heck of a promising start. He showed some impressive offensive skills from neutral and an aggressive, attack-heavy style. He beat a quality opponent in a tough environment in his first match on Friday, then showed the sort of dominant, bonus point-seeking style Iowa fans have been pining for on Sunday. That's a great way to ingratiate yourself with Iowa fans.
Marinelli is Iowa's second wrestler to earn Big Ten Wrestler of the Week honors, after Michael Kemerer did so two weeks ago. Marinelli and the rest of the Iowa team will return to action in two and a half weeks at the Midlands Championships in Hoffman Estates, Illinois (December 29-30).
EDIT: He picked up another Wrestler of the Week honor, too:
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