Leading up to Iowa’s first competition of the year on Friday, we’ll be previewing the 2017-18 Iowa wrestling team. Tuesday we took a look at the lightweights. Today? Let’s go up a bit in weight.
If there’s a place where Iowa returns a plethora of experience, it’s in the middle of its lineup. The only real big loss is at 174 as Alex Meyer graduated. The two-time all-Big Ten and 2015-16 All-American’s steady presence will certainly be missed.
Outside of that, however, Iowa’s pretty dang stacked.
Wrestle off winner: Brandon Sorensen over Pat Lugo, (3-2 dec.)
Luther Open winner: No Hawkeyes entered
Probably should consider: This is quite obviously Sorensen’s spot.
Can Sorensen get it done this season?
Each of the past three years the talented 149-pounder has been so, so close. First there was the 2014-15 season where he burst onto the scene and ended with a fourth-place NCAA finish and a team-high 40-6 record.
The only thing that’s stood between him and a title the past two seasons? One Mr. Zain Retherford.
Sorensen’s 0-4 in his career against the talented Penn State wrestler. Twice, they’ve been tight matches: a 4-0 decision at the 2015-16 Big Ten Championship and then 9-8 in TB2 during last year’s regular season.
The other two have been bonus point wins at the NCAA tournament — a 10-1 major two years ago and then Sorensen was pinned in 2:37 last season in the semifinals.
That said, there’s something a bit new this year. Edinboro transfer Pat Lugo is in the room.
A two-time NCAA qualifier, he’s the heir apparent to Sorensen. Having him in the room as a practice partner is only going to make both wrestlers better. It’s a good thing. I’d be very surprised if Lugo doesn’t redshirt.
Also, I love this quote from Tom Brands about Sorensen.
“A lunch pail guy; he doesn't need a new facility. All he needs is a mat and a little bit of heat with a roof over his head and he'll be just fine.”
Wrestle off winner: Michael Kemerer over Keegan Shaw, (21-5 TF)
Luther Open winner: Logan Thomsen (Wartburg) over Shaw, (6-4 dec.)
Probably should consider: It’s Kemerer’s world and we’re living in it.
Is Michael Kemerer the best wrestler pound-for-pound on Iowa’s roster?
The guy at 149 might have something to say about that, but it could make for a fun argument. Kemerer has become a solid presence at a weight Iowa’s had trouble filling since Derek St. John graduated.
Kemerer went 33-3 with two losses to the Nittany Lion’s Jason Nolf and a NCAA quarterfinal pin at the hands of Cornell’s Dylan Palacio. There’s very little reason to think he won’t find himself as an All-American once again.
He finished third last year. I think he’ll be in the championship this season. Can he get past Nolf? We’ll see.
His change is maturity and his change is maybe knowing when he's coming to work, it may be about more of a leadership role,” Brands said of Kemerer during Media Day. “Wrestling is a funny sport, though. You've got to take care of No. 1, as well.”
Indeed you do.
Wrestle off winner: Logan McQuillen over Jeremiah Moody, (9-8 dec.)
Luther Open winner: Moody over Derek Lee Loy (Wartburg), (Fall 5:38)
Probably should consider: Alex Marinelli, duh. Maybe Kaleb Young?
As it stands right now, Kaleb Young looks to get the nod at the 165 on Friday at the Iowa City Duals.
That is, at least, according to the probables Iowa released Tuesday afternoon.
Young has mostly wrestled at 174 for Iowa and it seems they want to get him in while they can.
This is, after all, Marinelli’s weight. He took a redshirt last season in a decision Brands described as extremely tough. He was probably Iowa’s best option at the weight, but between an injury and the idea that they’ll be able to have him around a little longer it made sense.
Brands is obviously quite high on him.
“We've been talking about him for a long time. You know what, we're excited about him and I know our fans are, as well. When you talk about patience and stuff like that, that's like maybe coach-speak for: You know what, he doesn't really know what he has.”
And it’s true. This is the first full season we’ll get to see Marinelli. His only losses last season were to three-time NCAA finalist Isaiah Martinez (Illinois) and NCAA qualifier Anthony Valencia (Arizona State).
Both of those came at the Midlands Championships.
Marinelli is going to have a great career. It’s only a matter of time before he sees the mat.
Wrestle off winner: Joey Gunther over Kaleb Young, (4-2 SV2 dec.)
Luther Open: No Hawkeyes entered.
Probably should consider: ???
Truth is, there’s no real telling who will have this spot come the heart of Big Ten season.
As you can see above, Gunther seems to be getting the nod to start the season at the Iowa City Duals, but there’s no real “guy” at this spot right now. Young would seem to have the upperhand and there’s reason to believe he’s the better wrestler... but he also lost to Gunther during the wrestle off.
This weekend’s competition and the rest of the early season meets should go a long way towards what path Brands will look to take.