Ah, the Midlands — two days jam packed with tons of wrestling and fun storylines. Toss in the fact it’s the first time we get to see the Hawkeyes in action since December 10, and we have ourselves some high-quality Thursday-Friday entertainment on tap.
Let’s start with the two biggest things for the Hawkeyes — the return of Sam Stoll at heavyweight and the presence of true freshman Alex Marinelli at 165. Stoll has yet to wrestle this year due to a knee injury suffered late last season, so we’ll get the chance to see how he’s progressed in rehab and what we can expect moving ahead.
Seventh-ranked Stoll had a nice season as a redshirt freshman, compiling a 22-6 record and finishing eighth at the Big Ten Tournament. Eventual Midlands Champ Nick Gwiazdowski majored Stoll, 10-1, in this event’s semis last year. A return to the semifinals this season would be encouraging for the big man as he’ll face a tough field, headlined by No. 2 Connor Medbery of Wisconsin and No. 5 Tanner Hall of Arizona State. We’ll see how Stoll’s absence from the lineup, as well as the strength of this class, affects his path to the finals — don’t expect a cakewalk by any means.
As far as Marinelli goes, I know I’m not alone when speaking of how exciting it’ll be to watch the highly-touted Ohio recruit compete in a stout 165 bracket led by No. 1 Isiah Martinez and No. 3 Isaac Jordan. He’s one of three Hawkeyes at the weight — starter Joey Gunther along with Kaleb Young are in — and will be thrown to the wolves in his first real action as a Hawkeye.
Marinelli and head coach Tom Brands discussed the plan for the rest of the season in one of the more informative hawkeyesports.com stories in recent memory. If Marinelli puts on a good show Thursday and Friday, it sounds like the redshirt’s coming off. If he doesn’t compete at a high level, well, it sounds like may be coming off anyways. How about you kill the tournament and make this decision easy, Alex?
Other notes and things to watch
- Can Thomas Gilman make it three Midlands Championships in four seasons? You may remember the fact the nation’s top-ranked 125-pounder introduced himself to the world in 2013 with a victory and added his second title last season. As the likely No. 1 seed (we’ll throw links to brackets in here once they come out), there’s no reason to think he won’t add a third title to his collection.
- Brandon Sorensen is in the same boat as Gilman. The 149 field is pretty weak, so he should be atop the podium for the second-straight year.
- Michael Kemerer, welcome to the show. The fourth-ranked redshirt freshman has displayed mixed results while compiling an undefeated record to start the season. He hasn’t really faced any top-tier competition thus far, but that’ll change starting tomorrow. The 165 field should have four wrestlers in Flo’s top-10, and another three ranked 11-16. Very curious to see how he looks and how he’s handled the break.
- This is likely a post to be written following the Midlands, but what does it mean for 197 when Steven Holloway loses his spot to Stoll?
- Friend of the Pants RossWB had a nice write-up dissecting the top guys in each weight class at GIA, if you want more info.
How to watch and follow, and Hawkeyes competing
The finals of this tournament are scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday on BTN. All other sessions will be on BTN Plus. They’re doing mat-by-mat broadcasts, so you may be clicking around a lot to catch the Iowa guys, and others that interest you. Trackwrestling has results as well.
Where: Welsh-Ryan Arena, Evanston, Illinois
When: Session I: 9:30 a.m. Thursday. Session II: 7 p.m. Thursday. Session III: 12 p.m. Friday. Finals: 7 p.m. Friday.
Grace and Ironside will have the call on 800 KXIC, and you can follow along via these accounts.
Iowa Probables with Flowrestling ranking
125 / No. 1 Thomas Gilman, 8-0
133 / Phil Laux, 6-5
141 / Topher Carton, 10-0
149 / No. 2 Brandon Sorensen, 10-0/Jerren Glosser, 9-2
157 / No. 4 Michael Kemerer, 10-0/Skyler St. John, 1-0 at 165
165 / Joey Gunther, 10-0/Alex Marinelli, 4-0/Kaleb Young 14-3
174 / No. 7 Alex Meyer, 9-0
184 / No. 7 Sammy Brooks, 7-0
197 / Cash Wilcke, 7-2
HWT / Steven Holloway, 5-3/Sam Stoll, 0-0