AMES — The ISU wrestling squad got back to its winning ways this past Sunday as it claimed a 25-12 victory over No. 21 Central Michigan. The Cyclones look to maintain positive momentum as they head West on US-20 to take on the Northern Iowa Panthers tonight at 7 in an in-state matchup at the old-school West Gym.
It’s been two years since head coach Kevin Jackson and ISU has traveled to Cedar Falls to take on UNI. In fact, that match is still rooted in the minds of Jackson and the wrestlers who competed there.
“They showboated on us,” said senior 165-pounder Tanner Weatherman. “They disrespected us.”
The last time Iowa State faced off against UNI in Cedar Falls, the Panthers defeated the Cyclones, 24-13. When the Panthers claimed that victory over the Cyclones, they snapped a 10-match losing streak in the series. But also in that victory, UNI did cartwheels and WWE-type thrusts in celebration toward Iowa State, according to Jackson.
However, UNI had one of its better teams in recent memory.
“(UNI) had several guys ranked,” Jackson said. “And (we) did not perform to our abilities.”
But that is all in the past. It’s a new Iowa State team against a new UNI team. The Cyclones must focus on their match against the Panthers, and not what happened two years ago.
The match won’t be an easy one for Iowa State, as they will be competing in probably one of their least liked arenas.
“(West Gym) is a hostile environment,” Jackson said.
Fans are loud. The gym is old. The space is tight and sound bounces off the walls.
“It feels like the crowd is on top of you,” said senior 133-pounder Earl Hall.
That can rattle a wrestler. It also can rattle the referee somewhat, as well.
West Gym’s size isn’t the only thing that makes the environment so hostile. At UNI, they turn up the heat, to make the air sticky and make the place darker than most venues.
However, Jackson doesn’t want his team to be worried about the surroundings and feel of West Gym. He wants his guys to embrace the challenge that comes along with wrestling at UNI.
“You have to embrace any type of environment,” Jackson said. “If you don’t compete well in a place like West Gym, you probably won’t compete well at the Big 12 Championships.”
While having to compete in an adverse in-state environment, Iowa State will also face five ranked wrestlers.
UNI possesses ranked wrestlers at the 125, 133, 157, 165 and Heavyweight weight classes.
The key matchups will be at the 133-pound and 165-pound weight classes, as the Cyclones also feature ranked grapplers at those classes.
“Those are matches (UNI) is trying to reverse,” Jackson said.
Earlier this season, Iowa State traveled to the Cliff Keen Classic Las Vegas Invitational. In that tournament, both Hall and Weatherman faced the UNI opponents they will take on Friday night — Josh Adler and Cooper Moore, respectively.
At the invitational, Hall defeated Adler in both matches, with the biggest win coming in the consolation semifinals, a 17-7 major decision. For Weatherman, he gained a fall over Moore in 45 seconds to place seventh in the Las Vegas tournament.
“Those matches are important for us,” Jackson said.
Looking at all the matchups, Jackson feels pretty good about his lineup against UNI’s lineup.
“The matchups are pretty favorable for us,” Jackson said. “If we just go out, perform at the level we know how to perform at, we should be feeling good at the end of the dual.”