Iowa State wrestling is gearing up to have what could be its best season since Kevin Dresser arrived in Ames.
“You know, when I first got here three years ago to now, it’s a totally different team, chemistry, and culture. I think one thing I like about this team is the culture is on the up, it’s focused and it’s driven,” redshirt junior David Carr said. “And that’s just a product of what our coaching staff has done with our room and our guys.”
Although last season was ended early right before the NCAA tournament due to COVID-19, the Cyclones earned a chance to regain their focus and grow stronger as a team.
“This room is getting very tough and that freshman class that came in is very good,” Dresser said. “They’re pushing guys already and it’s a pretty competitive room. Ultimately, that’s what’s going to make us great again at Iowa State, is a really competitive room, where guys are always pushing for that spot.”
The Cyclones will open up the 2021 season on Sunday against Wartburg at Hilton Coliseum.
For now, the line up will go as follows:
125: Alex Mackall
133: Zach Redding
141: Ian Parker
149: Jarrett Degen
157: David Carr
165: Isaac Judge
174: Julien Broderson
184: Tate Battanni
197: Yonger Bastida
HWT: Gannon Gremmel
Ever changing starting line up
For the month of January, Dresser will hold wrestle-offs every Thursday. Although some spots might be a little more secure than others, the line up will most likely change from week to week.
Other things that will be different this season other than the late start, each dual will include exhibition matches. It’ll be similar to the way high school wrestling holds JV matches.
Due to the pandemic, tournaments won’t be held this year so the exhibition matches will give the second or third guys in line a chance at consistent action throughout the season. This will also give Dresser the chance to work his way to the perfect line up for the Big 12 Championship and the NCAA Championships.
The advantage to such an unorthodox season is that Dresser has depth to work within the new structure. In years past, this would’ve been a big issue for the team.
“Well, I’ll tell you what, Dresser has been just preaching to us that everyone’s gonna have opportunity to wrestle this year pretty much. So, it’s brightened up the intensity in the room, and he’s able to make the practice room into a place where we’re going at it hard,” Carr said. “Every guy is scrapping, trying to kill the other guy and kind of going after it. And that’s brought us together because we’re all fighting hard for each other. And I’ve never seen the room so competitive.”
Currently, key wrestlers redshirt junior Marcus Coleman (197) and redshirt senior Sam Colbray (174) are missing from the lineup due to injuries.
Still, the line up looks good as the Cyclones gear up for their home opener.
“The depth in the room, it’s unbelievable,” redshirt senior Jarrett Degen said. “I came here with the coaching staff and could see that this team needed some improvements, and we definitely had some tough kids back then but the room this year is crazy.”
Dresser updated both guys will have the opportunity to wrestle their way to a spot later down the road once fully recovered. For now, the Cyclones found new hopefuls in freshman Bastida and redshirt sophomore Battani to step up to the plate.
Training during COVID-19
The team was happy to report they have only had one positive COVID-19 case since August. They’ve been able to stay healthy to continue to train even on their own time.
“Our best training period probably came from when we brought everybody back from break. We gave them a pretty long Thanksgiving break then we came back on November 30th and had a really good training cycle from November 30 until December 23rd. We saw a lot of good things and then we got back together on the 27th just a couple of days ago, and continue to have really good workouts,” Dresser said.
But, before being able to officially reunite in the wrestling room, the team had to get crafty on how they trained.
The team utilized garages, basements, and sometimes even barns to work together to continue to stay in shape.
For redshirt senior Ian Parker, this was his silver lining.
“You always have to find the silver lining. I was grabbing guys and leading workouts. I enjoyed that aspect of it,” Parker said. “A lot of people say coaching wrestling is the best thing you can do for your own wrestling. So, yeah, I really enjoyed that part of it, a lot actually.”
To continue to stay healthy the team is being tested three times a week.
Preparing to host DIII opponent Wartburg
Due to the Big 10 deciding to only wrestle within their conference on top of some travel restrictions for other conferences it made finding opponents difficult.
But, there is always a silver lining and for Dresser that’s being able to showcase in-state talent.
“We approached Grand View and they couldn’t make it work. But I thought just starting out instead of bringing in a team from, you know, the East Coast or somebody that was maybe smaller mid-major DI. I thought it’d be nice to do that (host Wartburg) and you’ll get some interest in the state of Iowa. So, that’s kind of how that started,” Dresser said when discussing putting together the schedule.
Wartburg was ranked No. 1 in Division III in the Preseason FloWrestling Rankings after last season’s 16-1 finish.
The Knights had six individuals ranked in their respective weight classes by FloWrestling. This includes a No. 1 ranking for 133 pounder Kris Rumph who compiled a 17-1 record last season and was undefeated during dual competition.
“We’re not overlooking them just because they’re DIII. That doesn’t mean that they don’t have any good guys. I’m expecting them to bring everything they’ve got and I’m expecting the Iowa State team to bring everything that we’ve got also. So, we’re not going to hold back and I don’t think they are either so I’m looking forward to it,” Degen said.
After facing the potential of no season the Cyclones are just excited they have the opportunity to start the season on Sunday.
“I’ve watched these guys in our room progress so much and I’m really excited to see them wrestle this Sunday,” Parker said. “I think our potential could be really high. I think Dresser mentioned this, this is the best room that he’s seen at least like in a practice room. Everyone’s given 100 percent effort and I’ve been here, as far as our new coaching staff has been here, and I can say probably the same for me. When I’m taking a break and I look around watching guys wrestle across the board, I’ve never seen that many guys wrestling at such a high level that are really hungry and going after it nonstop. It’s really awesome to be part of.”
The Cyclones and Knights face off at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 4th.