This past weekend the ISU wrestling squad participated in the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational where the Cyclones were one of 14 top-25 teams that competed in this tournament.
The outcome was not what head coach Kevin Jackson wanted.
Iowa State finished tied for 19thwhile the Cyclones only finished with two place winners, 133-pounder Earl Hall (finish fourth) and 165-pounder Tanner Weatherman (finished seventh).
“We expected heading into the weekend getting four place-winners but we only got two, so were a little disappointed in that,” Jackson said earlier this week.
Jackson expected junior 174-pound wrestler Lelund Weatherspoon to place, as he was a three-seed in the tournament.
One guy who did impress Jackson was 184-pound grappler Dane Pestano.
“[Dane] definitely gets the hard hat award for this past weekend,” Jackson said.
After losing his opening round match, Pestano rattled off four wins and also connected on somethings Jackson hasn’t seen Pestano do all year.
But the overall thing Jackson and Iowa State took away from the Cliff Keen Invitational was that they are not far off from the level of expectations that they have for themselves, besides not performing the way they wanted to early this season.
During the time in Las Vegas, Iowa State had the opportunity to scout seven teams that they will see later on in the season. Those teams were: Air Force, Arizona State, Oklahoma, North Dakota State, Northern Iowa, West Virginia and Utah Valley.
While scouting future opponents, Jackson saw that the Cyclones have some strengths over the seven teams, especially Northern Iowa.
“We are going to the hot west gym at UNI this year and when we go there our wrestlers can get a little rattled. So hopefully that’s not the case this year, and that our wrestlers remember what they did in Las Vegas,” Jackson said. “We also have seen UNI about three to four times as well this year.”
Iowa State will not see most of the teams that it scouted until February. That time span will allow the Cyclones to finally get all their pieces of the puzzle into place. But even before the pieces come together for Iowa State, Jackson believes they are in a good position over those seven teams.
“Yes they all have good teams,” Jackson said. “But even before we add those pieces, we matchup pretty well against those teams.”
Up next, the Cyclones will return to dual competition to take on the Wyoming Cowboys in the first Big 12 dual of the season. The Cowboys are 1-0 in the Big 12 with a win over Air Force.
Although it is Wyoming’s first season competing in the Big 12, Iowa State should not take them lightly.
“You look at their roster, they have a couple guys ranked,” Jackson said.
Wyoming in fact has three wrestlers ranked in the top-20 at the 149, 174 and heavyweight classes.
“They have a pretty strong squad,” Jackson said.
The key matchup in this duel will be at the 174-weight class, as Weatherspoon, Iowa State, is No. 17 while Wyoming’s Ben Stroh is No. 13.
Jackson believes that Iowa State must go after takedowns early and often as Wyoming’s approach to winning is different than most team’s approach.
“They will take the 2-1 match. They will take the 2-0 match or even the 1-0 match,” Jackson said. “They are a little different in the way they want to win matches compared to us. So we must come out aggressive and make sure they don’t throw us off our plan of attack.”
The Cyclones will host the Cowboys on Saturday, Dec. 12, at 2 p.m. at Hilton Coliseum.