Iowa's depth at 141 lbs. just got a bit shakier. Over the weekend, word broke that Jake Marlin would be leaving Iowa and transferring to North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC). Marlin's decision to leave Iowa wasn't the result of poor grades (he left Iowa in good standing academically) nor (to the best of my knowledge) disciplinary or legal issues (nothing of that nature has been made public); rather it was "a life choice," per Marlin in The Creston News Advertiser. Marlin indicated that he still wishes to return to a 4-year college after his stint at NIACC.
Marlin was a four-time state champion at Creston and set the Iowa state record with 147 career pins. Those accomplishments are nothing to sniff at -- especially in a state with a wrestling history as rich as Iowa's -- but Marlin wasn't considered a blue chip recruit, either. When he initially committed to Iowa he was the 79th best prospect in InterMat's rankings and unranked by The Open Mat or d1collegewrestling (although he had risen to 53rd in d1collegewrestling's recruiting rankings by the time the 2013 class wrapped up). He redshirted at Iowa last year as a true freshman, going 6-2 in limited action and finishing 3rd at the Flash Flanagan Open and 2nd at the DuHawk Open.
It's difficult to assess the true impact of Marlin's departure on the Iowa team, at least in the long term. (Nothing much changes in the short term, as Josh Dziewa is a senior and expected to again man the starting spot at 141 lbs. in the 2014-15 season.) Marlin's high school accomplishments are impressive, but high school dominance doesn't necessarily translate to college excellence. His redshirt results weren't head-turning (although eight matches is also a ridiculously small sample) and there didn't seem to be a great deal of buzz or hype surrounding him in the Iowa room (which stands in contrast to one of his classmates, Brandon Sorensen, who has generated a fair amount of buzz and is a strong bet to crack the Iowa lineup this year as a redshirt freshman). But hype and redshirt results only mean so much. Marlin had talent -- that much is obvious. It's not a stretch to think that he would have turned into a solid and productive wrestler for Iowa in a year or two.
Marlin's departure leaves things fairly uncertain behind Dziewa at 141 lbs. The only other wrestlers on the Iowa roster listed at 141 are fellow senior Ethan Owens, junior Jake Kadel, and sophomore Connor Ryan. Owens went 19-5 last year, mostly wrestling unattached in open tournaments. His best results were a pair of first-place finishes at the William Penn Open and the Flash Flanagan Open. He filled in for Dziewa on the main roster once, losing a 12-1 major decision to Wisconsin's Jesse Thielke. Ryan went 25-7 last year, highlighted by a first place finish at the DuHawk Open, but he also wrestled exclusively at 149 lbs. Kadel went 13-9 last year and wrestled all 22 matches at 157 lbs, despite the official roster listing him at 133/141. I think it's safe to say he won't be an option at 141 moving forward. While listed at 133 on the official roster, sophomore Topher Carton also went 23-7 at 141 lbs. as a redshirt freshman last year, so he could also be an option.
The best future option for Iowa at 141 may be Seth Gross, an incoming recruit from Apple Valley in Minnesota. Gross is a well-regarded recruit who won a trio of state titles in Minnesota, as well as several freestyle titles. He should redshirt in 2014-15, but the field looks fairly clear for him to step in a starter to replace Dzeiwa in the Iowa lineup in 2015-16.
The other main option would appear to be one of Iowa's lower weight wrestlers moving up. Philip Laux could be a strong option for Iowa at 125 lbs. (he went 23-1 as a redshirt freshman last season, albeit against lesser competition), but he's currently blocked from the starting lineup by Thomas Gilman. But if Gilman moved up to 133 lbs. and Cory Clark moved up to 141 lbs., then Laux would have a starting spot. Would that happen? That's hard to say and would depend heavily on how effective Gilman and Clark were able to be at 133 and 141, respectively. Would a Laux-Gilman-Clark lineup be better (for the wrestlers and for the Iowa team) than a Gilman-Clark-Gross/Carton lineup? That's difficult to forecast; we'll know more after we see a full season from Gilman and Clark at 125 and 133.
In any event, best wishes to Marlin as he continues his wrestling career elsewhere. We're sorry things didn't work out here -- it certainly would have been easy to cheer for a kid whose middle name is "Gable" -- but hopefully you find a better fit elsewhere.