AMES, Iowa -- Iowa State wrestling will open the 2007-08 campaign Thursday at 7 p.m. against Northern Illinois in Hilton Coliseum. ISU enters the dual as the No. 2 team in the country and boasts seven ranked wrestlers, including top-ranked Jake Varner (184). The Cyclones will play host to the Harold Nichols/Cyclone Open Saturday at the Lied Recreation Center. Action is set to get underway at 10 a.m.
- The 2007-08 campaign marks the 91st season of Cyclone wrestling.
- Iowa State is 77-12-1 in season openers since 1916.
- Last year’s squad went 13-3 overall and 5-0 against Big 12 opponents.
- ISU returns six NCAA qualifiers from its runner-up NCAA Tournament team.
- During his first-year at the helm, Cael Sanderson guided the Cyclones to the first conference title since 1987 and first outright league tournament championship since 1982 and first Midlands Championships team title since 1981. He was named Big 12 Conference Coach of the Year and NWCA Coach of the Year for his accomplishments.
- ISU returns one All-American in Jake Varner at 184 pounds. Varner became the first ISU freshman grappler since Cael Sanderson to wrestle in an NCAA championship bout.
- David Bertolino and Ben Hanisch will embark upon their senior seasons. Bertolino will move up to 197 pounds after spending the three previous seasons at 174 pounds.
- Nick Fanthorpe, Nick Gallick, Mitch Mueller and Cyler Sanderson will each move up a weight class from last season.
- Jon Reader, one of the nation’s top recruits in 2006, will begin his Cyclone career at 165 pounds after redshirting last year. Also making his debut in the lineup will be redshirt freshman Mitch Artist at 174 pounds.
Iowa State vs. Northern Illinois Series Notes
- ISU leads the all-time series 3-1.
- This will be the first meeting between Iowa State and Northern Illinois since Feb. 20, 1997, when the Cyclones defeated the Huskies 36-10.
- Northern Illinois’ lone victory over the Cyclones came in 1959, winning 18-11
Scouting Northern Illinois
- The Huskies return seven starters from a squad that posted a 6-4-1 overall record in 2006-07.
- Northern Illinois will start five newcomers: a true freshman, three redshirt freshmen and a transfer.
- Senior Pat Castillo and sophomore Duke Burk were each NCAA Championships qualifiers last season at 125 and 184 pounds, respectively. Castillo will bump up to the 133-pound weight class for his senior campaign, while Burk will drop down to 174 pounds.
- Kalen Knull moves down to 149 pounds after posting a 14-6 record at 157 pounds last season.
- Northern Illinois is coached by Dave Grant, who has a 97-75-6 record in 11 seasons at the school. Grant was an All-American grappler for the Northern Iowa in 1984.
After opening the dual season against Northern Illinois, ISU grapplers will stay in Ames for the weekend to compete in the Harold Nichols/Cyclone Open. The tournament will be held at the Lied Recreation Center on the Iowa State campus.
u Six Iowa State wrestlers advanced to championship matches at last year's Harold Nichols Open in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Mitch Mueller (141) and Jake Varner (184) each earned titles. Nick Fanthorpe (125), Nick Gallick (133), Aron Scott (149) and David Zabriskie (HWT) each finished as runner-up in their respective weight classes.
Varner to Wrestle at NWCA All-Star Classic
- ISU All-American Jake Varner will participate at the 42nd NWCA All-Star Classic presented by the United States Marine Corps Nov. 19 at McArthur Court on the campus of the University of Oregon in Eugene, Ore.
- Varner, a sophomore who was the 2007 NCAA runner-up at 184 pounds, will face Minnesota two-time All-American Roger Kish. The NWCA lists Varner as the top-ranked wrestler at 184 pounds, followed by Kish.
- Varner and Kish met three times during the 2006-07 season. In their last meeting, Varner downed Kish 4-2 in sudden victory to advance into the championship bout of the NCAA tournament. The two previous meetings saw Kish pick up two wins, a 7-2 decision in the ISU at Minnesota dual and a 5-2 decision at National Duals.
- Since the event began in 1967, 62 Cyclone grapplers have been participated in the NWCA All-Star Classic. This year marks the third consecutive year that Iowa State will send a wrestler to the event.
ISU Grapplers Ranked Second
- Iowa State wrestling enters the upcoming 2007-08 season as the second-ranked team nationally according to W.I.N. Magazine.
- Seven ISU grapplers are ranked within their respective weight classes, five of which are in the top-10. The country’s top recruiting class in 2005, Iowa State’s sophomores are listed throughout the rankings after an outstanding season that saw all six qualify for the national tournament as freshmen.
- Sophomore Jake Varner is listed as the top wrestler at 184 pounds and is the Cyclones’ lone returning All-American. In his first season, Varner sported a 29-7 record with 12 wins by fall. He finished as the 2007 184-pound runner-up, since head coach Cael Sanderson did it in 1999.
- After finishing a match shy of earning All-American status last season, sophomores Nick Fanthorpe, Cyler Sanderson and David Zabriskie are each listed as a top-10 wrestler. Both Fanthorpe and Sanderson are ranked eighth at 125 and 149 pounds, respectively. Fanthorpe posted a 27-11 record in his rookie season. Sanderson, a Big 12 Conference runner-up, went 29-11. Defending Big 12 heavyweight champ, Zabriskie, has been tagged sixth. Last year the Branchville, N.J., went 27-8.
- Also making the top-10 is 133-pounder Nick Gallick. During his freshman campaign, Gallick went 28-10. Mitch Mueller, who went 18-16 in his freshman season, is ranked 13th at 141 pounds.
- Redshirt freshman Jon Reader cracked into the 165-pound rankings at 18th. Hailing from Davison, Mich., Reader finished his prep career with a record 234-6 and tied the state record with 54 consecutive pins.