FULL SERIES: Hawkeye Lineup
|FR||Zach Axmear – Redshirt|
After graduating five starters from last year’s squad, Michael Kemerer will join 149-pound star Brandon Sorensen as the Hawkeyes most consistent performers. It’s a bit of a new look for Iowa, who has traditionally seen the strength of their lineup at the lightweights, but with Sorensen and Kemerer being the squad’s highest returning All-Americans, that shifts the balance of power to the middle of the Hawkeye lineup.
Coming off a third place All-American finish, Kemerer made a quick rise to the top of the national ladder after he won the Midlands tournament where he picked up a 6-5 finals victory over Nebraska’s Tyler Berger. He followed his title with a 6-3 decision over Michigan’s Brian Murphy which cemented him among the best.
Kemerer’s first loss of the season would come to eventual NCAA champion Jason Nolf in his team’s dual against Penn State. His other two losses would occur in postseason action, losing to Nolf in the Big Ten finals, and Cornell’s Dylan Palacio in the NCAA quarterfinals. It should also be noted that in Nolf’s 27 straight victories, there were only two matches where he didn’t manage to come out on top by bonus. Those two matches were both against Kemerer.
Moving into this season Kemerer will once again be right at the top of his weight, along with 2017 NCAA runner-up Joey Lavallee of Missouri, Berger, Oklahoma State’s Joe Smith, and Ohio State’s Micah Jordan. The early season schedule won’t be kind as Kemerer will see NDSU’s Clay Ream, Rider’s BJ Clagon, and Rutgers’ Richie Lewis all of which will are ranked in Wrestle Stat’s top 20 all before the end of the first semester.
|SO||Jeremiah Moody||Tristan McDonlald|
One of the most talked about storylines for the Hawkeyes last season was whether or not Tom Brands would pull the trigger and unleash the beast that is Alex Marinelli. Nicknamed “Bull”, Marinelli arrived in Iowa City every bit as good as advertised. Prior to the start of the season Marinelli set the bar high for himself, stating he wanted to be the first true freshman to win a national title for Iowa since Lincoln McIlravy.
Despite a strong Midlands performance by the Ohio prep, Brands ultimately decided to leave the 165 pound wrestler in redshirt, and rolled through the rest of the season with Joey Gunther. While the news didn’t come as a total shock, Marinelli appeared to be the stronger option given the early season results.
Brands was aggressive with Marinelli from the start, placing him in the Open division at the Grand View Open, while the other true freshman competed in the freshman division. After winning the title there, the next time he stepped on the mat was the Midlands where he notched victories against Lorenzo De La Riva (CSU Bakersfield), Andrew Fogarty (NDSU), and Clark Glass (Oklahoma) on the way to his fourth place finish. His final signature moment was a 5-4 decision against teammate Kaleb Young at the Missouri Valley College Open to end the year.
Over the summer Marinelli got his first full taste of freestyle wrestling. Growing up in the St. Paris Graham program in Ohio it’s no surprise that Marinelli’s focus was primarily folkstyle, as is often the case with wrestlers developed under Jeff Jordan. In his two tournaments, Marinelli reached the finals of the U.S. Open and the World Team Trials in the Junior division, falling to Penn State’s Mark Hall on both occasions. His wins included Virginia Tech All-American David McFadden, Wisconsin true freshman Zander Wick, and NC State true freshman Hayden Hidlay.
Sky would be the proverbial limit for Marinelli and considering he hit the ground running upon entering the college wrestling scene, you’d be silly to not buy into some of that hype.
Providing depth at this weight will be sophomore Jeremiah Moody who was 9-4 last year, making one start for the Hawkeyes. Stuck behind Gunther all of last season Moody’s only start was at the Iowa City Duals, and for that he bumped all the way up to 184 pounds and pinned Iowa Central’s Anthony Jones in the first period.