Alex Marinelli: BIG. TEN. CHAMPION.
Marinelli's sensational sophomore season continued with his best win yet on his biggest stage to date this year, dethroning previously undefeated Vincenzo Joseph of Penn State via 9-3 decision in the 165 lb final at the Big Ten Tournament. Marinelli was the aggressor from the outset and comfortably the better wrestler in the match from beginning to end.
Marinelli nearly scored early in the first period -- he seized Joseph's leg and had him in position (IN MID-AIR) for a takedown when the action was called dead by a Penn State challenge. The PSU corner challenged an uncalled hands to the face penalty (the implementation of which this season has been somewhere between "inconsistent and frustrating" and "an utter debacle," but that's perhaps a topic for another day); after review, the refs affirmed that there was hands to the face penalty against Marinelli. The delay for the challenge did seem to dull Marinelli's fast start, though, and the rest of the period played out to a 0-0 stalemate with neither guy coming too close to scoring.
Joseph got a quick escape to start the second, bringing the action back to neutral. And that's when the match got to the proverbial fireworks factory:
The Bull. 2019 B1G Champ. pic.twitter.com/pTZx94fqtH— Iowa Hawkeye Wrestling (@Hawks_Wrestling) March 10, 2019
Marinelli ducked underneath Joseph, locked up a body lock, and took Joseph feet-to-back on a big throw, planting him on the mat and scoring six points (two for the takedown and four nearfall points). He wasn't able to secure the pin, but he broke the match wide open and took a 6-1 lead (which became 6-2 after a Joseph escape a few moments later). It was eerily similar to the big move Marinelli hit on Joseph en route to his win at the Iowa-Penn State dual meet last year:
Marinelli chose down to start the third period and got a quick escape of his own to go up 7-2. Joseph got in deep -- really deep -- in a shot on the edgeof the mat, but Marinelli -- somehow, someway -- managed to fight off Joseph's shot and avoid giving up a takedown. In fact, he didn't just manage to avoid giving up points there -- he ended up turning into points of his own and scored another takedown to go up 9-2 in the match. Another Joseph escape made it 9-3 but with under a minute to go, Marinelli was able to play defense and fend off Joseph's attacks as the clock wound down. And then it hit 0:00 and Alex Marinelli became a Big Ten champion.
You can check out the full finals match between Joseph and Marinelli here:
The win brought Marinelli's record to 23-0 on the season and improved his personal record against Joseph to 2-0. When the new rankings are released this week, Marinelli should ascend to #1 atop the polls. He should also be the #1 seed in the 165 lb bracket at the NCAA Tournament when the brackets are released later this week. This win only solidified the fact that Marinelli has been Iowa's best wrestler this season, dispatching everyone in his path at 165 lbs. A year ago, Marinelli took an undefeated record into the Big Ten Tournament but struggled and wound up finishing sixth; this year Marinelli made it to the Sunday finals and didn't blink under the spotlight, defeating Joseph (23-0 himself entering this match). There's a very good chance that we could get Marinelli-Joseph III in Pittsburgh in a few weeks; if it's anything like the first two encounters, bring it on.
I'll be back with a recap of Iowa's whole performance at the Big Ten Tournament (short version: some good, some bad) tomorrow, but for now we celebrate The Bull and his latest and greatest triumph. GO MARINELLI AWESOME.