Men's Sports

Missed opportunities frame No. 8 Iowa State’s Cy-Hawk wrestling dual loss to No. 4 Iowa

Iowa State Cyclones Casey Swiderski takes down Iowa Hawkeyes Victor Voinovich during their 149-pound wrestling at Hilton Coliseum on Sunday, Nov. 26, 2023, in Ames, Iowa. © Nirmalendu Majumdar / USA TODAY NETWORK

 AMES — Iowa State’s 149-pounder Casey Swiderski shook his head. His head coach, Kevin Dresser, took the blame. And in the aftermath of an excruciatingly narrow 18-14 loss to No. 4 Iowa Sunday at Hilton Coliseum, the eighth-ranked Cyclones felt like they’d missed out on a prime opportunity to end their 19-game skid in the Cy-Hawk dual meet.

“I hope people understand that we’re here, for sure,” said the 14th-ranked Swiderski, who beat No. 9 Victor Voinovich, 6-3, in his match before a sellout crowd as well as ESPN’s national TV audience. “Come to Iowa State. We’ve got it going on. If you look at it from a different lens, we were right there. It was doable. They played their cards right. They did a good job. They’re veterans. That’s what they do. But we’re freaking here. We’re gonna get a trophy later this year so we’re building. The switch is getting flipped.”

 No one pointed fingers. No one made excuses. The Hawkeyes (3-0) simply executed better, particularly at 174, 184, and 197 pounds to put the match out of reach. ISU’s MJ Gaitan mounted a furious late rally against Iowa’s Patrick Kennedy at 174, but lost, 14-13.

 “That one will keep me awake for months and months and months, and years,” Dresser said. ‘Sometimes when you’re in the corner things get moving really fast and (Cyclone assistants Brent) Metcalf and (Derek) St. John, I think we got all confused with the riding time situation and for a split-second there, I think we thought we had riding time in the heat of battle, and we didn’t have riding time. There’s no guarantee MJ Gaitan would have gotten one more takedown there, but it sure looked like it with the way things were trending in that match. That’s on us.”

 That proved to be the pivotal match as the Hawkeyes (3-0) went from down, 10-9, to up 18-10 before ISU’s seventh-ranked heavyweight, Yonger Bastida, won by major decision to make the final score 18-14.

 But there were several bright spots for the Cyclones (3-1). Freshman 133-pounder Evan Frost surged late to beat No. 8 Brody Teske, 8-1, and 141-pounder Anthony Echemendia nearly knocked off top-ranked Real Woods before falling, 4-1, in sudden victory. Swiderski then notched his top-10 win before freshman Cody Chittum’s upset bid against No. 2 Jared Franek at 157, ended in a 4-2 setback. Chittum nearly scored a late takedown that could have won the match, but officials determined it came a split-second too late. Four-time All-American and 2021 NCAA champion David Carr, ranked No. 2 at 165, also won by major decision over No. 5 Michael Caliendo, but the three straight defeats at the ensuing upper weights created an insurmountable deficit.

 “Sometimes you get dual meets that you don’t deserve to get and sometimes you lose a dual meet you probably didn’t deserve to lose, and I really thought that was the case today,” Dresser said. “And I don’t take anything away from Iowa at all. They won fair and square.”

And that, Swiderski noted, stings from an ISU perspective, but doesn’t diminish the team’s high hopes as the season winds toward the NCAAs.

“It’s March — that’s what matters,” Swiderski said. “It’s a dual. Like, whatever. It sucks bad because it’s Iowa and they chirp, but that’s whatever.”