Kevin Jackson and the No. 16 ISU wrestling squad are coming off of a huge 28-11 victory over Big West Virginia, in which they extended their recent winning streak to three in a row.
If the Cyclones want to extend their win streak to four matches, they must defeat a very solid No. 18 Minnesota Golden Gopher squad led by J Robinson in Williams Arena tonight.
Tonight’s match will feature will be foe against foe, but also be friend vs. friend.
“I have a lot of respect for [J Robinson],” Jackson said in preparation for the dual.
Jackson credits Robinson in teaching him how to be a collegiate wrestling coach. The two met at one of Robinson’s intensive wrestling camps. Through those camps, Robinson was able to give advice to Jackson on how to be a solid collegiate coach.
“He just does things the right way,” Jackson said. “He recruits the right way and he just runs a clean program.”
Despite Robinson being one of Jackson’s mentors for the coaching profession, Iowa State’s head coach will put that aside when the Cyclones step onto the mat to face off against Minnesota in one of eight NWCA National Dual Championship Series duals.
The NWCA National Dual Championship Series is basically collegiate wrestling’s version of bowl games.
“It’s like being selected to play in the Peach Bowl,” Jackson said.
The series selects the top-16 teams to compete against one another to determine to due facto Dual National Champion.
With adding the dual to the series, Jackson believes it adds a new atmosphere and new scenario to the match. Although it adds a new atmosphere, Iowa State is still aiming to end their season on a four match win streak.
“After the loss to Oklahoma, we told ourselves that we are going to end the season on a four match win streak before the Big 12 Championships,” Jackson said.
In terms of matchups, the Gophers have top-10 wrestlers in the weight classes that the Cyclones are solid but not as good as the 133 or 165-weight classes. Minnesota has top-10 wrestlers in the 141, 197 and Heavyweight classes.
For Iowa State, each wrestler in those weight classes have losing records in dual starts.
However, it doesn’t mean that the Cyclones are willing to back down against the Gophers.
“Quean has reached out to me but most of them are getting help and pointers from our coaching staff,” said 165-pound senior grappler Tanner Weatherman.
Despite not having the greatest matchups against Minnesota’s top weight positions, Iowa State wants to make one more big push before they head into the Big 12 Championships.
To accomplish that, the Cyclones must compete and wrestle hard for all seven minutes. Not only does have to wrestle all seven minutes but they need to defend against the Gophers wrestling style.
“We just have to prepare against their style because they like to get opponents into weird positions,” Jackson said.
If Iowa State is able to perform throughout all seven minutes and defeat Minnesota before the Big 12s, it would be crucial for the team psyche.
“It’s a big confidence booster if we are able to win four straight matches,” Weatherman said. “We want to wrestle our best before March and if are able to wrestle to our top level, win and then take two weeks off, we [ISU] will feel really good heading down to Kansas City.”