Now that the school year has started, wrestling season is right around the corner. We have less than a month until the official start of practice, which means it's time to start taking a look at some lineups.
Our lineup looks continue now to Iowa City, where the No. 10 Hawkeyes appear to be in a transition phase. It's almost impossible not to be after graduating four guys with 10 All American finishes between them.
Still though, fans of the Black and Gold could see as many as five AAs in Cleveland this March, but they'll need a few things to go right. Here is the lineup Iowa could start the year with, excluding the pending transfer of Pat Downey in the second semester.
2017-18 Iowa Lineup125: Perez Perez
133: #20 Phillip Laux
141: Vincent Turk/Carter Happel
149: #2 Brandon Sorensen
157: #3 Michael Kemerer
165: Alex Marinelli
174: #20 Kaleb Young
184: Mitch Bowman
197: #12 Cash Wilcke
285: #7 Sam Stoll
The most noticeable difference will be at 125 and 133, where Perez Perez and Phil Laux are in position to replace world silver medalist Thomas Gilman and NCAA champ Cory Clark.
Perez, a California native, is a short term solution while Spencer Lee redshirts this year. He is 9-10 over the past two years, including a redshirt year, and he has no wins against Division 1 competition.
Watch Thomas Gilman: Love Me Or Hate Me
Laux starts off the year ranked 20th, with a great deal of his expectations stemming from his performance at Midlands last year. There, he took a 3-2 loss to No. 6 Bryan Lantry, beat No. 14 Luke Welch 6-4 in overtime, and lost 8-6 to No. 11 Scott Delvecchio. A summer of tweaks and Laux could have the potential to place at tournaments of that caliber. It is also interesting to note that Laux can be nationally ranked and still be 9th in the conference.
The Brands brothers have perhaps the toughest call to make at 141, where Vince Turk and Carter Happel are neck and neck on paper to take the spot. They have no common opponents in their college careers, which makes sense since Turk only wrestled one match last year.
Coming out of high school, Turk was 61st on the 2015 Big Board and Happel was 34th on the 2016 Big Board. Happel's biggest win last year was over Zach Synon of Missouri, while Turk beat Seth Gross in November 2015 on the backside of the Harold Nichols Open at 141. They will likely meet when Iowa hosts wrestle-offs the weekend of November 4th, and could also wind up hitting at an open tournament.
The next two weights are much more straightforward. Brandon Sorensen and Michael Kemerer are back at 149 and 157, respectively, where both placed third at NCAAs. They combined for 35.5 points last year in St. Louis and should hit at least that again in Cleveland. Of note, over the summer No. 2 Sorensen beat All Americans Paul Fox and Max Thomsen at University Nationals. Kemerer has some of the cleanest finishes on leg attacks in the country and starts the year ranked third.
Watch Sorensen's third place match from NCAAs
Two young bucks are moving into the starting spot at 165 and 174. Alex Marinelli, affectionately known as "The Bull" to Hawkeye fans, was the No. 3 overall recruit in 2016 and enters this year ranked 17th. Kaleb Young was No. 21 on the 2016 Big Board, and is ranked No. 20 at 174lbs.
Marinelli, out of St. Paris Graham in Ohio, and Young, out of Punxsutawney in Pennsylvania, have essentially the same big wins. Both beat NCAA qualifiers Andrew Fogarty, Clark Glass and Lorenzo De La Riva. Marinelli also beat David McFadden twice in freestyle, placing second at both the U.S. Open and Junior Trials at 74kg. Young was second at 79kg at the Open.
Marinelli's win over McFadden at Junior Trials
Cash Wilcke filled in admirably at 197 last year, even making the Round of 12 at NCAAs. He is ranked 12th at 197 to open up the season, and will be staying up there. Starting the year at 184 for the Hawkeyes is sophomore Mitch Bowman.
The elephant in the room is Pat Downey. PD Hawk as he is now calling himself still has between 15 and 21 credits to graduate from Iowa State, depending on if you ask him or his father. Downey himself told me it was 15, so that's what we're going with. The plan right now is that the Midlands at the end of December will be his first attached competition with Iowa.
Closing out with heavyweight, Iowa is in the same position with No. 7 Sam Stoll as they were last year: coming off injury, with All American potential.
Four Teams Who Are Loaded At Middleweight
Iowa's prospects this year lie anywhere from 12th to 5th, which are really best and worst case scenarios. Since 2000, Iowa has been in the top four every year except 2003 (8th), 2005 (7th), 2007 (8th), and 2016 (5th).
Kemerer and Sorensen are the only solid bets to finish on the podium, but Stoll, Marinelli and Downey all also have the potential to do so. If all five place, with Kemerer and Sorensen making the finals, the Hawkeyes will be right on the cusp of winning a team trophy.