Men's Sports

ISU star David Carr plans to go out on top — as a competitor and a leader — in his final season

David Carr stands for a photo during Iowa State wrestling media day in Ames, Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2023. © Zach Boyden-Holmes/The Register / USA TODAY NETWORK

 AMESDavid Carr’s eyes lit up.

 Iowa State’s four-time All-American 165-pounder heard the name “Cody Chittum,” which prompted an expansive smile to stretch across his face before he finally spoke. 

 “The fans are gonna love watching him wrestle,” said Carr, who will experience a homecoming of sorts in the Cyclones’ Nov. 5 season-opener against Cleveland State at Perry (Ohio) High School. “He’s very intense.”

 Chittum — the nation’s top pound-for-pound wrestler in 2022 according to FloWrestling — donned a grayshirt at Iowa last season before deciding to transfer to ISU head coach Kevin Dresser’s program The true freshman from Cleveland, Tenn., is emblematic of the Cyclones’ deep blend of seniors and newcomers who hope to improve on last season’s 11th-place finish at the NCAA Championships.

 “This team’s capable of definitely being a top-five team, right?” Dresser said. “Now, we said that last year and we didn’t get it done. We came down to the very end and it was a game of inches. We were one match away from seventh and two matches away from fifth.”

 Carr finished second to rival Keegan O’Toole of Missouri last season. He’s seeking to finish his celebrated Cyclone career with a second title and has never finished outside of the top three.

 “The thing that motivates me and just gets me up every day is the chance to win a national title again,” Carr said.

 Chittum’s part of a talented youth movement at ISU — and even though he’s currently battling injury, he’ll likely become a top contributor at 157 pounds sooner rather than later. But how does he describe his “intense” style on the mat?

 “I wouldn’t say crazy, but very active,” he said. “Very active in my matches, so it will be pretty exciting.”

 That’s how Iowa State’s entire team is approaching a 2023-24 season that includes matchups with three of the teams that finished among the top five at nationals a year ago. The biggest dual on the slate — as usual — pits the Cyclones against the arch-rival Hawkeyes on Nov. 26 at Hilton Coliseum. The 2 p.m. bout will be televised nationally on ESPN.

 “I know it’s gonna be electric,” said Carr, whose career record is 93-3. “Last time they were here, it was insane, so it’s one of my favorites. I get excited just talking about it, so I think it’s gonna be super fun.”

 That’s precisely how this season could play out for ISU as stern competition at nearly every weight class sorts itself out, and autumn and winter fade into March. But one aspect of this season isn’t “super fun” for Carr. His former “cutting weight buddy,” Yonger Bastida, has bumped up from 197 to heavyweight, so can consume calories with relative abandon.

 “So now I’m here late at night and he’s, like, eating more food,” Carr joked. “So I don’t know if I like that, but I’m happy for him. … He’s gonna be a fan favorite at heavyweight. He’s so explosive. So fun to watch. I’m just sad that this is one of my last seasons with him.”

 But excitement counters sadness when it comes to what this season can bring for Carr’s teammates — whether they’re younger, like Chittum, or older, like him.

 “Hopefully I leave that good example and the young guys (who) are super-talented when I leave, those guys are still instilling that in the program, of working hard, being a good teammate, and things like that,” Carr said. “So far, those guys already have those attributes and I think it’ll continue to blossom through them as they get older.”