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Another former Black and Gold wrestler turns to coaching

BY CODY GOODWIN | FEBRUARY 11, 2013 5:00 AM

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The jeers sounded familiar to Montell Marion. But in the past, he heard them being directed at his opponents.

This time around, small amounts were aimed at him.

“They were pointing at their hats, and it was kind of funny,” Marion said. “I just remember being on the other side, where you know they have your back.”

Marion made an appearance in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, where No. 2 Iowa defeated No. 13 Nebraska, 31-7. The peculiar part about his presence was not simply the fact that he was there but more so that he was there for the other team.

The former Hawkeye All-American sported a white Nebraska Polo. He stood over on the Nebraska bench as an assistant coach for the Huskers. Marion looked primarily focused on the dual at hand, but couldn’t help but look over his shoulder and smile at the fans that scoffed.

There weren’t enough sneers to warrant significant attention, but it was enough to have Marion ensure that he wasn’t the bad guy. In fact, he said there was still a lot of encouragement for him from the Black and Gold wrestling family.

“Everybody still seemed pretty supportive, and people still said hi to me,” he said. “It’s all good. I like it.”

The two-time NCAA finalist wound up in Lincoln, Neb., because he wanted to stay close to home. He values the teachings of Nebraska’s head coach Mark Manning, who granted him the opportunity to begin his coaching ventures in the Husker practice room.

“That’s what I’m headed towards,” he said. “Coaching, and starting to grow up and all that stuff. We’ll see where it goes.”

Aside from the newly found yearning to coach wrestling, Marion is also still learning. He’s spent many hours training with 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist Jordan Burroughs, along with other international freestyle wrestlers, such as Max Askren. Burroughs’ speed and Askren’s funkiness are two styles that have helped further develop Marion’s own technique.

That’s not the only thing Marion is learning. The Des Moines native has been slowly piecing his public image back together after off-the-mat issues marred the lasting memory that most Hawkeye wrestling fans have of Marion. Those fans would likely rant about his six moving traffic violations in two years rather than brag about his 91 wins — that’s not including the domestic assault charge he recently was recently fighting. Those charges were later dropped.

Coaching is teaching him responsibility, and the impacts of leading by example. Marion spoke confidently about his high-level of resilience. His Twitter handle is headlined by “redemption,” in all caps, and that word is often “hash-tagged,” throughout many of his posts. It’s symbolic of his new challenge of reaching the top again — and staying there.

“Montell will do very well for himself,” Iowa head wrestling coach Tom Brands said when asked about seeing Marion on the other bench on Sunday. “He’s very knowledgeable. He knows wrestling. Good for him.”

The way Brands spoke when answering showed signs that there could be somewhat of a haze surrounding Marion and his standing with Iowa wrestling. To leave one wrestling program — on what some might call bad terms — to begin anew with another in the same conference will call for some questions. But those who know Marion better than the discussion board chatterboxes understand his intentions, and what kind of person he really is.

“I still would [consider Marion part of the Iowa wrestling family],” Iowa’s 133 pounder Tony Ramos said. “I don’t know if some people will, but people have different opinions.”

Marion answered these questions down underneath Carver by the visiting team’s locker rooms, away from other members of the media. While down there, a lady walked by, and Marion’s eyes lit up. They embraced, giving off the impression that, despite some possible animosity, some people still consider Montell Marion to be apart of the Iowa wrestling family.

“Mrs. Brands is the most awesome cook in the world,” he said after she left. “You should put that in the paper, too.”


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