AMES — Pat Downey’s pedigree speaks for itself.
The Maryland native won two state titles, then set his sights on mile-high goals at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.
Throughout his on-the-mat journey, his aspirations have continued to rise.
Now he’s finally at Iowa State, pitched in a battle for the top spot at 184 with Dane Pestano as the Cyclones prepare for Sunday’s match against West Virginia at Hilton Coliseum.
“It’s good to obtain a wrestler at Downey’s talent level late in the season” ISU coach Kevin Jackson said. “But it also creates a problem for (us) as we already have a good 184-pounder.”
Pestano has been a solid 184-grappler for the Cyclones this year. He is 8-6 in duals and 21-11 overall this season. Downey sees the competition between him and Pestano as a good thing for Iowa State.
“I have a lot of respect for Dane and I am not here to take anyone’s spot,” Downey said. “But when our teammates sees the both of us competing for that 184 spot, it will raise the level of intensity of the team.”
Downey’s goal for the rest of the season is to be the best he can be at the NCAA Championships in March and help produce team points for the Cyclones at the national meet.
But before he can accomplish all those goals, he must focus on West Virginia.
“I need to increase my attack rate more,” Downey said. “Against UNI, after the first period the score was 0-0. I don’t like ending the first period with zero points.”
Excitement, nervousness and a whole lot of feelings were running through Downey’s head when he stepped on the mat for the first time in his Division I career against the Panthers last Friday night. In his first match donning the cardinal and gold, Downey opened the dual with a 5-2 decision for the Cyclones.
“(Downey) showed how tough he was,” Jackson said. “However, he didn’t show how good he actually is in his first match”
Downey also won his first match at a weight he isn’t most comfortable at, 197. But when Downey takes the mat against the Mountaineers, Cyclone fans will witness a wrestler with a ton of accolades.
After winning his back-to-back Maryland state titles, Downey spent two years at the Olympic Training Center. He also earned a silver medal at the 2012 Junior World Championships. Downey also earned fourth place at the 2015 University National freestyle competition. In that competition, he defeated Iowa’s 184-pounder and 2015 NCAA qualifier, Sam Brooks, who captured a victory in this year’s Iowa State against Iowa wrestling duel.
Not only did he earn multiple awards on the national level, but Downey is also a decorated JUCO wrestler.
In the 2014-15 season, Downey claimed an individual NJCAA Championship at 197-pounds and helped Iowa Central claim a team national title. However, Downey transferring from Iowa Central to Iowa State wasn’t as smooth as he thought it would be.
“Apparently the NCAA has a strict rule about transferring from Division I to JUCO back to Division I,” Downey said.
Downey originally started his collegiate career at Nebraska. But Downey would never dawn the red and cream singlet as he fizzled out less than a year being in Lincoln. He lost focus after a string of injuries during his redshirt year with the Cornhuskers.
Then Downey resurfaced in Fort Dodge, where a small environment helped him get refocused on his wrestling dreams. Before he could step onto the Iowa State campus, Downey had to complete his associate’s degree at Iowa Central.
“I had to finish 19 credits before I could complete my transfer to Iowa State,” Downey said.
That was the biggest obstacle in Downey’s quest in becoming a Cyclone. Now he’s fully focused on what’s to come — Sunday and for the rest of his career.
“It feels great to just focus on wrestling now,” Downey said. “It’s all business now until the end of March.”