The Iowa State wrestling team hits the road this weekend as it travels to take Northern Colorado and Wyoming in search of its first win of the season.
Entering the 2016-17 season, the Cyclones were ranked No. 14 in the nation but after opening weekend, they certainly didn’t look like it. Iowa State dropped both season opening duels against Big 12 foes: South Dakota State (9-27) and North Dakota State (16-25).
However, the Cyclones return some key wrestlers for their matches against the Bears and the Cowboys that they didn’t have at their disposal during the first weekend of the season.
This off-season, Iowa State received major news that 133-pounder and two-time All-American, Earl Hall was granted another year of eligibility. While Hall received one more year to don the cardinal and gold, it came at a price. Hall had to sit out the first two duels of the season and his presence in the Cyclones’ lineup was surely missed.
During Iowa State’s showdown with South Dakota State, the Jackrabbits’ 133-grappler tech-fall’ed the Cyclones’ 133-pounder. If Hall was in the lineup, Iowa State more than likely would have claimed that match up in the dual.
Although Iowa State’s 133-backup wrestler, Nathan Boston, got tech-fall’ed against South Dakota State, he had no problem vs. North Dakota State as Boston won via major decision. If Boston was able to major decision the Bisons’ starting 133-pounder, imagine what Hall could have done in the match.
Hall is a huge addition to the Cyclones’ lineup, but he probably won’t be the only new face starting for Iowa State this weekend.
The Cyclones may also see the return of 141-pounder, two-time NCAA qualifier and former Big 12 runner-up, Gabe Moreno, who has been out with a shoulder injury. If Moreno does in fact return for Iowa State against Northern Colorado or Wyoming, that would give the cardinal and gold a true performer at his weight class.
While Iowa State returns two stellar wrestlers at two of the lower classes, it should get back two of its bigger performers. The Cyclones’ 197-grappler, Marcus Harrington and heavyweight Quean Smith have been dealing with undisclosed injuries this season. However, they may see their return to the mat this weekend. If they do return, the Cyclones will be close cementing their full lineup.
Although, Iowa State will more than likely return three wrestlers coming off injury, it may miss a starter due to injury.
During the Harold Nichols Cyclone Open, the Cyclones’ 184-pounder, Pat Downey, suffered an injury that forced him to medically forfeit the rest of his matches in the tournament after winning his first two. Every wrestler’s goal is to be healthy for March, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see Iowa State sit Downey out this weekend to get him back to 100-percent.
Looking at the first match up, Iowa State should be able handily defeat Northern Colorado if it is completely healthy. According to Wrestle Stat, a majority healthy Cyclone lineup would sweep the Bears 35-0. However, if Moreno, Harrington, Smith and Downey all were unable to dress for Iowa State, it would be a closer match but with the Cyclones still coming out on top.
For the second match up, Wyoming is stiffer competition than Norther Colorado. The Cowboys possess two top-20 wrestlers in 133-grappler, Drew Templeman (ranked No. 13) and 141-pounder, Bryce Meredith (ranked 11th). However, like the predicted dual against Northern Colorado, a majority healthy Iowa State lineup would defeat Wyoming.
If Iowa State does in fact get 95 percent of its top performers back for this weekend, the duels should go like the predicted ones and the Cyclones should be sitting at .500 after a rocky start to the season.