It was another battle of top-25 opponents in Humboldt, Iowa, as No. 13 Iowa State and No. 15 Purdue faced off in a highly anticipated matchup that was postponed from last year due to the pandemic.
The Cyclones picked up their third dual meet win of the season, producing a come-from-behind effort to defeat the Boilermakers 23-13 in front of a packed crowd at the Humboldt High School gymnasium.
The win was head coach Kevin Dresser's 200th of his career and 40th as head coach of the Cyclones. Both Dresser and Purdue head coach Tony Ersland wrestled at Humboldt during their high school days, with the former winning two state titles in 1980 and 1981 at 126 and 132 pounds respectively.
"I thought the event overall was just a great event," Dresser said on the match afterwards. "I'm kind of jealous, I wish I was an athlete and would've gotten a chance to wrestle in front of the crowd. That crowd was pretty pumped up."
It was a win that was characterized by key wins in the later weight classes, with multiple Iowa State wrestlers scoring upsets to add to the team total.
Degen and Carr get the ball rolling
After losing their first three bouts by a combined score of 29-5, the Cyclones were looking at an 11-0 deficit when Jarrett Degen entered for the 149-pound matchup against Purdue's Trey Kruse.
The redshirt senior came into Sunday with the No. 24 ranking in his weight class, and led after the first two periods by a score of 12-0 after recording a couple of four-point near-falls. From there, the lead only increased as Degen won the match on technical fall 20-1 to earn his 80th victory as a Cyclone.
Degen's victory started the comeback, then David Carr got the crowd on its feet.
The current NCAA champion at 157 pounds and No. 1-ranked wrestler recorded his first pin of the season on No. 11 Kendall Coleman. Carr initially led 7-1 after the first two periods, and was able to get the fall at the 4:30 mark to maintain his season record at a perfect 8-0.
The win also raised his current winning streak to 41 consecutive matches, which is the second-longest in the nation. Iowa State now led 11-10 after Purdue was docked a team point for unsportsmanlike conduct following the post-match handshake.
Carr spoke of the atmosphere change in the gym after his and Degen's matches by saying, "You could see the momentum shift [during the intermission]. I like that our team responded, and went out there with a little bit more swagger, a little bit more confidence. Whether it was Degen who had to do it or me, it was good that it happened."
Devine, Bastida score upsets against ranked opponents
The next pair of matches that stood out came in the 174 and 197-pound divisions, as Joel Devine and Yonger Bastida both scored wins on decision to add six more team points.
Devine scored just one takedown in his match with No. 21 Gerrit Nijenhuis, and eventually took it 4-1 after the Purdue wrestler was called for stalling in the second period. The win served as a bounce-back for Devine, who lost his last match by sudden victory to Iowa's Nelson Brands on Dec. 5.
"Joel had to suck it up after getting ridden for quite a while in the second period," Dresser said on Devine's match performance. "That Nijenhaus kid from Pennsylvania, we know a lot about him having recruited him, and he's a solid kid. So to ride somebody in the third period that's that quality of a kid, that says a lot about him."
No. 18 Bastida also had a close encounter with tenth-ranked Thomas Penola, who kept escaping his attack. The Trinidad, Cuba native was able to record a takedown in each period to get by his opponent 6-4.
Dresser highlighted Bastida's style of wrestling by saying, "He's a dangerous cat on his feet. The biggest difference between freestyle and folk style is control. Every shot you've got instead of winging your opponent and scoring points, you've got to control them. That's been the biggest adjustment that we've worked on with him since he's arrived [at Iowa State]."
Questions remain at 149
One of the spots in Iowa State's lineup that they still seemed to be undetermined with is in the 149-pound weight class. Degen and redshirt sophomore Ian Parker have both wrestled in the weight class, with Parker's only match coming in a 3-2 loss against No. 9 Max Murin in the annual CyHawk matchup.
Dresser still sounded undecided on the decision after the Purdue match, but talked of the value that Parker brings to the table.
"I'll have a solid answer for you by the time that we get to the first [day] of the year," Dresser said. "I have to hold my cards a little bit more just to check a couple more situations out. Obviously, we want to get Ian Parker in there pretty soon, he's pretty special to our team."
Iowa State will resume its season on January 6th, when they return to Hilton Coliseum to face Northwest Kansas Technical College.