Match Notes: Big Ten Championships

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 DATE  March 3-4, 2018
 LOCATION  East Lansing, Michigan | Breslin Center (15,000)
 RADIO | LISTEN  Hawkeye All-Access | iHeartRadio
 ONLINE/MOBILE VIDEO SESSION I  Mat 1  | Mat 2 | Mat 3 | Mat 4
 ONLINE/MOBILE VIDEO SESSION II  Mat 1  | Mat 2 | Mat 3 | Mat 4
 ONLINE/MOBILE VIDEO FINALS  Championship Match | Third Place | Fifth Place 
 LIVE UPDATES  @IowaWRLive | trackwrestling

The University of Iowa wrestling team competes at the 2018 Big Ten Championships on Saturday and Sunday at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Michigan. The two-day event begins Saturday at 9 a.m. (CT). Session II starts Saturday at 5 p.m. Session III begins Sunday at 11 a.m., followed by the finals at 2 p.m. The finals will be televised by BTN.

Brackets and team standings will be available throughout the tournament at

Sophomore Michael Kemerer shared the top spot at 157 pounds when the Big Ten Conference announced its championship tournament pre-seeds Monday afternoon. The 2018 Big Ten Championships begin Saturday at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Michigan. 
    Kemerer is 20-0 this season and ranked No. 2 in the NCAA Division I Coaches Poll. He shares the top spot with Penn State junior Jason Nolf, who is 19-1 and ranked No. 1. The wrestlers split 14 votes from Big Ten coaches, and will find out Friday who enters the tournament with the top seed at 157 pounds. 
    Seven more Hawkeyes earned pre-seeds, including Spencer Lee (125), Brandon Sorensen (149), and Alex Marinelli (165), all of whom are seeded No. 2 at their weight classes. 
    Lee and Marinelli are two of five Hawkeyes making their first conference tournament appearance. The others include Mitch Bowman, who is seeded eighth at 184, and unseeded Paul Glynn (133) and Vince Turk (141).
    Cash Wilcke and Sam Stoll are making their second conference tournament appearance. Wilcke is seeded third at 197 and Stoll is seeded fourth at 285. 
    The complete tournament brackets will be released Friday afternoon following the Big Ten Conference coaches meeting. For more information on the 2018 Big Ten Wrestling Championships visit 

Since 1989, the year the Big Ten record book first recognizes the award, eight different Hawkeyes have been named Wrestler of the Big Ten Championships. Head coach Tom Brands won the award in 1989 following his 126-pound conference title. Associate head coach Terry Brands won the honor following his 126-pound Big Ten title in 1992. Brent Metcalf was the last Hawkeye to earn the award. He is the only Big Ten athlete to win the award twice (2008, 2009).

The Hawkeyes’ 112 Big Ten champions have won a total of 199 conference titles. There have been seven four-time, 18 three-time, and 30 two-time winners. The Hawkeyes have won 35 team titles, twice as many as the next closest school (Illinois, 17). Iowa won 25 consecutive conference championships from 1974-1998.

The Big Ten Championships is one of eight qualifying tournaments across the country.     The NCAA has awarded the conference 80 of the 283 automatic qualifying bids for the national championship in Cleveland on March 15-17.
    The Big Ten was allotted more bids than any other conference. The league will have six automatic qualifiers at 197, seven at 133, 174, and 285, eight at 141, 157, and 184, nine at 149, and 10 at 125 and 165. 

Brandon Sorensen (149), Michael Kemerer (157), and Alex Marinelli (165) were all ranked second in their respective weight classes when the NCAA Division I Coaches Poll was released Feb. 22. Spencer Lee (125) checks in at No. 3, and heavyweight Sam Stoll is ranked fifth. Cash Wilcke (197) also cracked the top 10, coming in at No. 8.
    Sorensen is the top-ranked wrestler at 149 in the rating percentage index (RPI). Stoll is ranked second in RPI and Kemerer is fifth. To be eligible for an RPI ranking, a wrestler must have a minimum of 17 Division I matches at a given weight. 
    The NCAA uses RPI and coaches’ rankings when determining how many automatic qualifiers from each conference tournament advance to the 2018 NCAA Wrestling Championships in Cleveland on March 15-17. 
    After all of the qualifying events have concluded, the NCAA Division I Wrestling Committee will meet in-person to select the remaining 47 at-large qualifiers, which will be announced on March 6. All weight classes will consist of 33 wrestlers.
    The at-large selections will be made based on the following criteria: head-to-head competition, quality wins, coaches’ ranking, results against common opponents, RPI, qualifying event placement, and winning percentage.

Iowa’s two returning All-Americans – Brandon Sorensen (149) and Michael Kemerer (157) – are a combined 39-1 with 26 bonus-point victories. Sorensen is a two-time runner-up (2015, 2016) at the conference tournament. He placed third in 2017. Kemerer was runner-up in 2017. 
The Hawkeyes enter the Big Ten Championships led by senior Brandon Sorensen, a three-time All-American making his fourth Big Ten Championships appearance. He placed runner-up at 149 in 2015 and 2016, and placed third in 2017. 
    This is the first time Iowa enters the conference tournament with only one senior in the lineup since 2012 (Montell Marion). The Hawkeyes’ lineup includes two freshmen, five sophomores, two juniors, and one senior. Iowa is one of four schools with one senior or fewer in its lineup. Maryland and Michigan State both enter the field with one senior, Indiana has none. The host Spartans are the only team with fewer upperclassmen than Iowa’s three (Sorensen and juniors Mitch Bowman and Sam Stoll). Michigan State has one junior and one senior in its lineup.  Purdue (one junior, two seniors) and Nebraska (one junior, two seniors) are also among the youngest lineups in the tournament.
    Besides Sorensen, no Hawkeye has appeared in more than one conference tournament. Junior Sam Stoll placed eighth in 2016 but missed the 2017 tournament with an injury. 
    Sophomores Michael Kemerer, Joey Gunther, and Cash Wilcke made their tournament debuts last season. Kemerer placed second at 157. Gunther was 1-2 and did not place at 165. Wilcke was 2-3 and placed eighth at 197. 
    Five Hawkeyes are making their tournament debuts. They include freshman Spencer Lee (125), redshirt freshman Alex Marinelli (165), sophomores Paul Glynn (133) and Vince Turk (141), and junior Mitch Bowman (184). 

Sophomore Michael Kemerer and redshirt freshman Alex Marinelli enter the Big Ten Championships with undefeated records.   
    Kemerer is 20-0 this season and riding a career-best 24 straight matches dating back to last season’s NCAA tournament. He has twice this season been named Big Ten Wrestler of the Week. 
    Marinelli is 14-0 this season with seven wins over ranked opponents. He and North Carolina State’s Hayden Hidlay (redshirt freshman) are the only two freshmen (redshirt and true) still undefeated in all weight classes (minimum 10 matches). 
    Both Kemerer and Marinelli won Midlands Championships at their respective weight classes. 
    In the history of Iowa wrestling, 15 wrestlers have finished the season with a perfect record (minimum 20 matches). Four of those wrestlers were able to perform the feat twice. They include Mark Ironside, Lincoln McIlravy, T.J. Williams and Jim Zalesky. Iowa coaches Tom Brands and Terry Brands are among the 15 wrestlers. Tom went 45-0 in 1990-91 and Terry went 35-0 in 1991-92.

True freshman Spencer Lee and redshirt freshman Alex Marinelli enter the conference championships as the No. 2 seeds at their respective weights, and both have steadily climbed the national rankings since entering the Iowa lineup.
    Lee made his Hawkeye debut Jan. 5 against Michigan State and opened the dual with a fall in 46 seconds against Kayvon Foley at 125 pounds. He is 14-1 with six falls, five technical falls, and seven wins over ranked opponents. He debuted in the Intermat rankings Jan. 9 at No. 9. He has since moved up to No. 3 in the NCAA Division I Coaches Poll.
    Marinelli made his collegiate debut Dec. 8 at Rutgers. He has since gone 14-0 with three pins, seven wins over ranked opponents, and winning the Midlands championship at 165 pounds. He entered the Intermat rankings Dec. 12 at No. 13. He has since climbed to No. 2 in the NCAA Division I Coaches Poll.

Nine of the Hawkeyes’ previous 11 125-pound NCAA qualifiers have earned All-America honors (two NCAA titles, four finals appearances).
    The Hawkeyes’ starting 125-pounder (NCAA qualifier) has a 311-34 overall record (.901), and a 190-12 (.941) mark in duals over the last 12 years.
    Tom Brands has 204 wins in 227 duals since taking over the Iowa program in 2006-07. In those 226 duals, the Hawkeyes’ 125-pounders have a combined record of 203-24 (.893).