The ISU wrestling squad walked away from the Midland Championships in late December with a sixth place overall team finish and with four Cyclones earning spots on the podiums. And with that outing, it ended the first-half of the 2015-16 wrestling season for Iowa State.
The first-half of the season has had mixed reviews.
Currently the Cyclones sit with a 3-2 dual meet record while being 1-0 in the Big 12. That one Big 12 win came over new conference member, Wyoming, in which Iowa State defeated the newcomer in a close dual outcome, 19-14.
Iowa State’s other two victories were dominant wins over Midland, 51-0, and Boise State, 34-3. However, the Cyclones’ two losses have been crushing defeats by No. 2 Iowa, 33-6, and No. 3 Virginia Tech, 32-3.
After the loss against Iowa, head coach Kevin Jackson said that he was disappointed in some of the efforts his wrestler gave and that he could hardly speak.
Jackson being disappointed in some of his wrestler’s effort has been a consistent issue during the first-half of the year.
“We have a couple of upperclassmen that need to wrestle to their potential,” Jackson said.
Despite that, he sees a lot of positives from the first half of the season.
“Some of the good is that we are a lot healthier heading into the second half of the season than we typically have and we are getting some key contributors back,” Jackson said.
MVP for the first-half of the season: Tanner Weatherman
This was a hard call, especially with Earl Hall performing at an All-American level. But this came down to not only dual meet performances but also tournament performances as well.
“Earl has been pretty consistent this season, except for tournaments,” Jackson said. “He didn’t perform to his potential at the Cliff Keen Invitational and at the Midlands.”
Hall did win an individual title in one of the three tournaments, the Harold Nichols Open. However, Weatherman has outdone Hall as a whole in all three tournaments.
In the three tournaments Iowa State has participated in, Weatherman has finished second (Harold Nichols Open), seventh (Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational) and second at (Midlands) in the 165-pound weight class. In dual meets, Weatherman has gone 3-2, with his two losses coming in the Virginia Tech and Iowa meets. However at the Midland Championships, Weatherman pinned Iowa’s 165-pound wrestler Patrick Rhoads, who defeated Weatherman in the Cy-Hawk meet, in 45 seconds. The win over Rhoads gave Weatherman the nod for MVP of the first-half of the season.
The Cyclones will begin their takedown on second-half of the schedule on Friday when they travel to the Virginia Duals tournament. The tournament will kick-off a tough second-half of a season.
During the Virginia Duals, Iowa State will have a chance to redeem itself against former opponent Virginia Tech. Not only will they get a chance at Virginia Tech again, but Iowa State will have to deal with No. 23 Old Dominion as well.
After the Virginia Duals, the Cyclones will begin a tough three-meet road trip. The road trip will begin at Arizona State, then it will continue a week later when Iowa State takes on Big 12 rivals No. 11 Oklahoma and No. 5 Oklahoma State within two days of one another.
The Cyclones then come back to face-off against No. 18 Central Michigan, travel to Northern Iowa, comeback to Hilton to wrap-up Big 12 competition against No. 24 West Virginia and then travel to No. 21 Minnesota to finish-up the regular season.
All three tournaments, Iowa State has had the opportunity to scout most of their second-half opponents. While at the Cliff Keen Invitational, Jackson saw that his team matches up well against one team in particular.
“I believe we match up extremely well against Northern Iowa,” Jackson said.
In five out of the seven dual meets during Iowa State’s second-half of the season will be against top-25 teams.
Wrestler to watch out for in the second-half of the season: Marcus Harrington
The redshirt freshman 197-pound wrestler made his season debut at the Midlands, after dealing with legal issues that occurred in the summer. His season debut was a decent outing.
“[Harrington] had some freshman eyes during the Midlands,” Jackson said.
Harrington won his first match against Old Dominion’s Austin Coburn 10-4. His next two matches however, were not quite like his first. Harrington would go on to lose to Iowa’s 197-pound wrestler and the No. 3 197-grappler Nathan Burak, 16-2, and to the No. 9 197-pounder California State-Bakersfield Reuben Franklin, 18-2.
“[Harrington] has to improve on from getting off the bottom because if you can’t get off the bottom you probably won’t win,” Jackson said.