No. 14 Iowa State faced a tough challenge against now-No.2 Oklahoma State on the road in its last dual. The Cyclones fell to 7-2 (4-1 Big 12) after a 22-15 loss.
Now, the Cyclones compete at home for a pair of duals over the weekend. The action starts with South Dakota State (2-6, 1-3 Big 12) scrapping in Hilton Coliseum at 7 p.m. Friday.
"We've been traveling a lot, so we've been putting our guys through the ringer since Jan. 1," said Iowa State coach Kevin Dresser. "Here we are at the end of the month, Feb. 1, it's nice to be home. We got to turn around, and we've got one more long trip to Oregon, but this weekend we'll really enjoy being at Hilton."
The Jackrabbits knocked off Iowa State last season, but South Dakota State entered this season rebuilding.
South Dakota State lost coach Chris Bono — a former Iowa State athlete and assistant coach — to Wisconsin. The Jackrabbits also graduated some of their top talent.
On top of that, standout 133-pounder Seth Gross's season ended prematurely due to injury.
With a somewhat depleted roster, the Jackrabbits still feature two athletes who appeared in the coaches' panel: 149-pounder Henry Pohlmeyer at No. 18 and 184-pounder Zach Carlson at No. 33.
The struggling Jackrabbits provide a good opportunity for the Cyclones to get back in the win column. It also gives 141-pound redshirt sophomore Ian Parker a tune up before his end-of-season gantlet continues.
"Mindset doesn't really change much," Parker said about the uptick in competition coming up. "These guys have more stuff to watch out for, I guess, and be aware of. Other than that, it's pretty much the same.
"Dresser always tells us, 'The most important match is the next one,' so the most important match is South Dakota State."
Parker's coming off a weekend with ranked opponents in Dom Demas and Kaid Brock, and he has three ranked opponents left, including Sunday's conference dual with Utah Valley.
On Friday, though, Parker squares off with redshirt freshman Aric Williams, who's 7-13 this season, including 1-4 in duals.
Another Iowa State starter who may benefit from Friday's dual is 174-pound redshirt freshman Marcus Coleman.
Coleman looked rough at times last weekend, surrendering a 12-0 first period against Oklahoma and getting pinned at Oklahoma State.
Against South Dakota State, Coleman will likely be tasked with redshirt junior Brett Bye or Samuel Grove. Bye holds a 6-10 record with an 0-5 dual record consisting of two losses by pin, two losses by technical fall and a loss by major decision.
"I got to start faster — just wrestle better overall," Coleman said. "Coach Dresser kind of called me out and said I had one good period all weekend, and I really couldn't agree more."