With the Daktronics Open now in the rearview mirror, the 2021-22 wrestling season has now begun.
Iowa State’s first duals of the 2021-22 season come against Army and Cal Baptist on Saturday.
With the season now underway, I’m going to lay out some important dates this season, as well as try to answer some pertinent questions.
Biggest dual of the year: (Dec. 5 vs Iowa)
I think this kind of goes without saying, but the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series dual is the biggest dual of the year.
Not only is it the biggest because it’s Iowa vs. Iowa State, but also because of where both teams stand nationally. And for Iowa State, this is the biggest opportunity it may have all year to make a statement.
Iowa is the top-ranked team in the country and is the defending national champion.
While Iowa State may have other opportunities to get a win against other top-five opponents, Iowa is the only top-five Iowa State will be getting to face at home this season.
With Iowa State also being a top-15 team in the country, this will be a dual that will have nationwide attention.
If Iowa State were to win this dual, it would be the first time it has done so since Dec. 5, 2004.
Most telling dual of the year: (Jan. 29 at Oklahoma State)
This dual, to me, will be the most telling entire season for two reasons.
For one, Oklahoma State is the defending Big 12 co-champions (along with Oklahoma, who Iowa State wrestles on Jan. 28) and is currently the second ranked team in the land.
Secondly, this dual comes right in the middle of the conference slate and could dictate how the rest of the conference schedule will go.
To me, this dual will show how close a potential Big 12 title could be for Iowa State come March, or how far the gap is between teams like Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Missouri, and the rest of the teams in the Big 12 conference.
By the time this dual starts, it will have been 11 years since the Cyclones last beat the Cowboys, and a win would show how realistic the Cyclones' Big 12 title hopes are.
Much like winning the Iowa dual would do, winning this would show the rest of the nation that the program is back to being a serious contender in the NCAA team title race.
Most contested weight class: 165
As Iowa State head coach Kevin Dresser said during media day, the team has a lot of options in terms of who to start at 165.
Could it be Isaac Judge? He was the starter at 165 last year and had a 7-7 record.
Could it be Grant Stotts? He took third place at the Daktronics Open.
Or it could be Carter Schmidt or Austin Kraisser? Kraisser just placed fourth at the Daktronics Open.
So far, we know that Judge beat Schmidt in a wrestle-off 3-1, so he has the advantage there. But outside of that, this weight class seems to be up in the air as of this writing.
Most intriguing weight classes: 125 and 149
The wrestle-offs throughout the season at 125 and 149 should be the most fascinating to see shake out.
Let’s start with the battle for the starting spot at 125.
At 125, there’s two Hawaii natives, Corey Cabanban and Kysen Terukina, both of whom are off to great starts to the 2021-22 season.
They both knocked off top-20 wrestlers at the Daktronics Open, with Terukina beating No. 17 Liam Cronin (Nebraska) and Cabanban beating No. 6 Brody Teske (UNI).
Both made it to the Grand View Open and Daktronics Open finals, with Terukina winning both times by a score of 3-1.
These two have wrestled each other close in the matches they’ve wrestled in tournaments and have done so probably a dozen times or so in the Iowa State wrestling room. So don’t be surprised if both of these wrestlers are featured significantly in the Iowa State lineup.
At 149, it’s a case of two established veterans vying for one starting spot.
One hand says there’s Ian Parker, who is moving up a weight class from 141 who is a three-time NCAA tournament qualifier and a Big 12 champion.
And on the other hand, there’s Jarrett Degen, who has been the guy at 149 and is a three-time NCAA tournament qualifier and placed seventh at the 2019 NCAA Championships.
At the Daktronics Open, it was just Degen who wrestled, taking home the title 149. But with just how talented these are, it shouldn’t be a shock to anyone to see the starter at this position change on a weekly basis.
Biggest storyline: Can David Carr win back-to-back NCAA titles?
David Carr capped his 2021 season by doing what every wrestler dreams of: winning an NCAA title.
And not only did he win it, but he finished the season with a perfect 20-0 record. Now, the redshirt junior from Canton, Ohio, is trying to make it two years in a row with a NCAA title.
The reason I selected this as the biggest storyline is because Carr is by far the best wrestler that Iowa State has and has the chance to do what not a lot of wrestlers have had the chance to do.
The challenge I think for Carr this season is can he simply do it again and impress against some of the nation’s best?
With Iowa State’s schedule, he’s going to have a handful of big tests on his plate. This includes a match against Iowa’s Kaleb Young (No. 8), North Dakota State’s Jared Franek (No. 9), Missouri’s Jarrett Jaques (No. 11) and Arizona State’s Jacori Teemer (No. 3), to name a few.
It’ll also be interesting to see if Carr will have to face Northwestern’s Ryan Deakin, who was the top-seed 157 in the NCAA Championships but fell to eventual runner up Jesse Dellavecchia in the semifinals.