The Iowa State wrestling team experienced one of its worst seasons in school history by going 1-6 in Big 12 competition and 1-12 overall.
The good news is that the dual season is over for the Cyclones. It is March, which means the record resets and they are focus with tournament season.
“I kind of think about it like when you play the old Mortal Kombat,” said 149 pound wrestler, Gabe Moreno about tournament competition. “Each time you win you go up and face the boss. It’s just like I can’t lose because there are no restarts in this. This is it.”
Iowa State wrestler’s quest for NCAA titles start this Saturday and Sunday (March 4 and 5) at the Big 12 Championships. The Cyclones are making sure the distractions that came with their dual season is out of their minds when they take the mat down in Tulsa at the BOK Center.
“We’re squashing any talk about next year or rumors anything going on,” said interim head coach, Travis Paulson. “Once you walk into practice you put on your hard hat and get ready to put in some work.”
In the last month, Iowa State saw former coach Kevin Jackson announce that he would resign at the end of the season. Kevin Dresser was hired to replace Jackson a few weeks later.
Jackson officially stepped down from coaching the team last week. Paulson, an assistant under Jackson, was selected to be the man to bridge the Jackson era to the Dresser era.
“This group of guys have an opportunity to do the biggest turnaround in Iowa State history,” Paulson said.
Paulson decided to have a meeting with the team’s leadership council, which consists of two wrestlers from each grade, to determine what the goal for the rest of the season should. The answer: compete for seven minutes.
Paulson said that when a wrestler wears the cardinal and gold of Iowa State, he is representing the university for seven minutes when they take the mat.
Iowa State doesn’t have any top-two seeds in the conference tournament. But it does have two three-seeds leading the way in seniors Earl Hall, at 133 pounds and Lelund Weatherspoon, at 174 pounds. Both were All-Americans last season and Weatherspoon won a Big 12 title as well.
Paulson and the rest of his staff have stressed, ‘just stay the course’. Hall has tried to rely the message to the rest of his teammates.
“We can either sulk in it or just move forward from it,” Hall said. “If we dwell on it, then what does that have to say about the rest of our season? If we just go out there and compete like we’re capable of, then we don’t have anything to worry about.”
The Cyclones also have a four-seed, three five-seeds, a six-seed, an eight-seed and two 10-seeds to round up their lineup. With the seeds now established, the only thing for Iowa State is to compete.
Every moment a Cyclone goes out and wrestles down in Oklahoma, is an opportunity to build for the future.
“Everyone is 0-0 from here on out,” Hall said. “Whatever you did earlier in the year doesn’t matter.”