Men's Sports

Will Feldkamp — ISU’s “old man” — hopes to help the Cyclones win their first Big 12 title since 2009

Iowa State Cyclones Will Feldkamp takes down Missouri Tigers’ Colton Hawks during their 184-pound wrestling in the Big-12-conference showdown at Hilton Coliseum on Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024, in Ames, Iowa. © Nirmalendu Majumdar/Ames Tribune / USA TODAY NETWORK

AMESWill Feldkamp’s staring down the most important stretch of his final season as a collegiate wrestler.

 The Iowa State 184-pounder — who attained All-American honors at Clarion in 2023 — is on his third school, and he’s been around so long, that some in the room jokingly call him an “old man.”

 He’s cool with that.

 “I still think of myself as, you know, an 18-year-old freshman a lot of the time,” said Feldkamp, who hopes to help the Cyclones win their first Big 12 title since 2009 in the conference championship, which runs Saturday and Sunday in Tulsa. “It’s still fun to mess with them and they give it back.”

 Feldkamp’s missed time because of an arm injury late in the season but feels as healthy as he’s been since joining the program as March’s challenges and opportunities swing into view. And that’s vitally important for a fifth-ranked ISU team that, on paper, is considered the favorite for the Big 12 crown along with No. 4 Oklahoma State. Tenth-ranked Missouri lurks close behind, as well, which should make for a tightly contested conference meet.

 “Well, first off, we don’t want to tie, we don’t like ties, all right?” ISU head coach Kevin Dresser quipped. “So we’ll clear that up, but winning the close matches and (getting) the bonus points are gonna be the difference.”

 The Cyclones should expect plenty of the latter from No. 2 seeded 165-pounder David Carr and No. 2 seeded heavyweight Yonger Bastida. Carr’s seeking to become ISU’s first five-time Big 12 champ, but will likely be challenged en route to what he hopes will be a rematch with two-time defending NCAA champion Keegan O’Toole in Sunday’s finals.

 “165, on paper, is the toughest weight, so they’re both gonna have really good semifinals,” Dresser said. “I’m sure they’re thinking the same thing we’re thinking, (which) is we can’t look past those matches, but if we get to that match — I’ve said it before and it’s a little bit of a broken record, but the last month, I’ve really been strong in my feeling that David’s just ready to go. He’s ready to go technically. He’s ready to go physically. His tank is big right now and more than anything, he’s ready to go mentally. They might be the same way. It might be a heckuva match, but I like our guy.”

 Dresser likes the rest of his lineup, as well. 141-pounder Casey Swiderski and 149-pounder Anthony Echemendia both earned No. 1 seeds and both have been hot lately. Swiderski’s won five straight matches — including three ranked bouts — since coming back from a knee injury. Echemendia’s won 10 of his last 11 matches and has scored bonus points in 13 of his 16 victories this season.

 “I’m ready to kill,” Echemendia said. “That’s how I’m coming into the postseason. The work is done and we’ve just got to throw it out there and show everybody what we can do.”

 Feldkamp’s adopting a similar approach as he completes his long and winding college career.

 “I know that my abilities can take me to the top,” he said.