Next week in Evanston, Illinois wrestling fans will get a taste of the future when teams come together to compete at the Midlands Championships in Welsh Ryan Arena on December 29th and 30th. The tournament, which features over 71 ranked wrestlers, is usually the toughest test a redshirting freshman faces all season long as they go head to head in live competition with starters from other schools.
IAwrestle has learned that several key true freshmen from Iowa will be in attendance, and at least one of those competitors could wrestle themselves into their starting lineup. For the Hawkeyes they will be sending a trio of wrestlers that came into Iowa City loaded with high school accolades. Carter Happel (141), Kaleb Young (165), and Alex Marinelli (165) are all expected to travel from Iowa City.
As outlined in Iowa State’s projected Midlands roster, Michigan natives Ian Parker (133) and Kanen Storr (141) will also be traveling to Illinois for their first foray into elite college wrestling. Both lauded as top recruits for Iowa State’s 2016 top five recruiting class, we could be witnessing the beginning of a wave of talent that will soon be plugged into Iowa State’s lineup.
As it stands as many as eight wrestlers in InterMat’s top 20 could be in Parker’s bracket at 133 pounds next week, including six wrestlers from the top 10. That number is contingent on Iowa’s #1 Cory Clark taking the mat, who’s status for next weekend remains up in the air.
Happel and Storr will take the mat at 141, which will feature five of InterMat’s top 20 and a bevy of wrestlers who are currently unranked, but still are expected to be tough outs (specifically guys like Iowa’s Topher Carton and Ohio State’s Luke Pletcher). Storr’s performance will be closely monitored since his need to the Cyclones is very apparent with a large hole looming after Gabe Moreno and John Meeks graduate.
All season long Iowa fans have wondered whether or not Tom Brands will be pulling Alex Marinelli’s redshirt to become the first wrestler to compete for Brands straight out of high school. If ever there was an opportunity to prove that “The Bull” has what it takes, this weekend will prove it with NCAA champion Isaiah Martinez (Illinois) and NCAA runner-up Issac Jordan (Wisconsin) both projected to be in the field as well as potentially six other ranked wrestlers.
While Marinelli has been busy receiving the bulk of the attention, it should be noted that Young is off to a nice start in his career as a Hawkeye with a 14-3 record on the season, and all of his losses coming to Missouri’s Connor Flynn.
Northern Iowa will be attending the Southern Scuffle and will not have any wrestlers competing at the Midlands.