The ninth-ranked Iowa State wrestling team is off to a good start this season with a 3-0 record with a mix of old and fresh faces producing at a high level.
Even with the 3-0 record and a top ten ranking in the NWCA Coaches Poll, Iowa State is exploring different options for starters at certain weights because of injuries or because of multiple weight classes having good wrestlers.
In a press conference on Monday, Iowa State wrestling Head Coach Kevin Dresser talked about injury updates, future wrestle-offs and redshirt sophomore Tate Battani’s solid start to the season.
For the first few weeks of the season, Iowa State has been without redshirt seniors Sam Colbray and Jarret Degen because of injuries.
It now appears that Colbray and Degen may be back soon for Iowa State, although Degen may be a little behind Colbray in terms of returning to action.
“Colbray is a little bit ahead of Jarrett in his progress, so we could see him this weekend,” Dresser said.
Dresser also said “probably not,” when asked if he would have Colbray wrestle-off on Thursday.
“I don’t want to stress any injury that we might have right now, he looked really good last week, I just don’t want to back up and that’ll (Colbray wrestling off for starting spot) eventually happen at the end of the month,” Dresser said. “We’ll weigh in a lot of guys at a lot of weights this weekend and kind of going on our gut in terms of who’s ready to go health-wise and who’s the best guy to put out there.”
Dresser said that all the guys he mentioned are “banged up” are going to have to wrestle their way back into the lineup.
Colbray is projected to wrestle at 184 pounds and has made an impact in previous seasons.
He wrestled at 184 in the last two seasons, earning a 46-17 record in those seasons combined, finishing runner-up in the 2019 Big 12 Championships, fourth in the 2020 Big 12 Championships and qualified for the 2019 NCAA Championship and was a 2020 NCAA Honorable Mention All-American.
Colbray is ranked as the ninth-best wrestler at 184 in the NCAA by InterMat.
Degen has also had success at Iowa State in previous seasons, but tweaked his knee at the beginning of the month and has been week-to-week since.
“Jarrett is back on the mat doing some light drills,” Dresser said. “I’m not sure if we’ll have him this weekend or not, this will be a big evaluation week.”
Degen has finished third at the Big 12 Championships twice (2018 and 2020), runner-up once (2019) and qualified for three NCAA tournaments, finishing seventh in 2019 and as a first-team All-American in 2020.
In Sunday’s dual, one Iowa State wrestler, redshirt junior Marcus Coleman (a two-time NCAA qualifier) at 197 pounds, made his return to the mat.
“He looks like he’s ready to go and he could be present this weekend,” Dresser said.
Coleman pinned Loras’ Colin Murphy (4:14) in the “B” dual against Loras.
Dresser said in regards to whether or not Colbray, Coleman and Degen return to the lineup is dependent on how he thinks they look in the practice room.
“A lot of it’s just going to be about how they perform this week and I’m big about seeing them in the room before I even think about putting them out here,” Dresser said.
Dresser says he will wrestle-off against freshman Cody Fisher for the backup spot at 197 pounds.
This wrestle-off is one of many that are set to happen soon
Starting spots at 125 and 133 up in the air for Sunday
According to Dresser, there will be two weight classes, 125 and 133, that will have wrestle-offs on Thursday to decide starting spots for Sunday’s duals.
A wrestle-off between redshirt senior Alex Mackall and freshman Kysen Terukina is set to happen on Thursday with the winner earning the starting spot at 125 pounds on Sunday.
Dresser said in regards to the starting spot at 133, “Todd Small is on his way down [from 141] so he’s going to have a shot to get to [Zach] Redding (Iowa State’s starter at 133), there’s a lot of good competition there with Ramazan [Attasauov] so we’ll wrestle that weight off.”
Mackall started the season as the starter at 125 after defeating freshman Corey Cabanban in the initial wrestle-off finals on Dec. 23.
Terukina defeated Mackall in a wrestle-off last week to earn a starting spot in the Nebraska-Kearney dual on Sunday, while Mackall started in the Loras dual that took place before the Nebraska-Kearney dual on Sunday.
Mackall, a 2020 Big 12 Championship runner-up and two-time NCAA tournament qualifier, won his in the “A” (A dual features each team's starters) dual against Loras, pinning Aden Reeves (4:01).
He also won his match in the “B” dual against Nebraska-Kearney, pinning Jackson Nielsen (2:42).
Terukina also won both his matches on Sunday, defeating Loras’ Julian Valtierrez by major decision (13-3) in the “B” dual and he won in the “A” dual against Nebraska-Kearney, defeating Josh Portillo 6-5.
Small, a redshirt senior who qualified for the 2020 NCAA tournament, is 2-0 with wins in the “B” dual versus Wartburg (12-4 major decision) and one against Nebraska-Kearney (10-6 decision) at 133.
Attasauov, a redshirt freshman who is a U23 National Champion, is 3-0 this season with three pinfall victories in each of the Cyclones’ three “B” team duals this season.
Battani making the most of his opportunity
Coming into the season, Battani was third on the depth chart at 184 pounds, according to Dresser.
Because of injuries to Colbray and redshirt sophomore Joel Shapiro, Battani has been the starter at 184 pounds and has found success.
Battani is 3-0 this season with wins over Wartburg’s Jordan Bushey (major decision 15-7), Loras’ Shane Liegel (7-6 decision) and Nebraska-Kearney’s Hayden Prince (major decision 12-3).
“He works really hard, he’s a guy that’s excited to have the opportunity,” Dresser said. “I think he was three number three guy on the depth chart at the beginning of the year behind Colbray and Shapiro and here he is two-three weeks in and he’s the number one guy, so that’s a testament to him being ready to go.”
In the 2019-20 season, Battani earned a 9-2 record, reaching the finals in the three tournaments he wrestled, including a first-place finish in the 2019 Cyclone Open.
Battani is currently the starter at 184 but will have wrestle-offs at a later date against Colbray and Shapiro.
“He’s going to have some wrestle-offs here as those guys get back into the lineup,” Dresser said. “It’s just about progressing and making the most out of your opportunity when you get it, so if you step out there this weekend and if you have a couple of top 15 guys in the nation, let’s go beat them and make a name for yourself.”
Dresser said they’ll “learn a lot about Tate this weekend” with Arizona State and Missouri coming to Ames.