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Teammates Earl Hall and Ian Parker wrestle on Sunday at Harold Nichols Cyclone Open.

Iowa State wrestling coach Kevin Jackson isn’t sure what’s going to motivate No. 10 Earl Hall.

After starting a disappointing 8-3 on the season, the 133-pound Hall needs to connect mentally and compete for seven minutes.

Wrestling at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in front of a hostile crowd is a difficult mental challenge for any wrestler, especially one who's struggling to find consistency. If Hall is able to compete in spite of that environment in Iowa City on Saturday at 7 p.m., it could go a long way, propelling him into the rest of the year.

“He’s got a chance this weekend to show come consistency as far as how good he is,” coach Kevin Jackson said. “We do expect him to be the Earl Hall we know and love. We’ve seen him at his best, and we haven’t seen that lately. That could go a long ways.”

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From left, Angel Escobedo, volunteer coach, Travis Paulson, assistant coach and Kevin Jackson, head coach, gave direction to the wrestling team as they won 19-14 against University of Wyoming at Hilton Coliseum on Dec. 12.

All of Iowa State’s wrestlers will need to connect mentally to the fight at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Last season at Hilton, Iowa brought the fight to the Iowa State grapplers. They hand fought, controlled collar-ties and pushed the Iowa State wrestlers around the mat.

This season, the Cyclone grapplers will need to be physically and mentally strong enough to match the Hawkeyes’ fight.

“You have to get in that fight and you have to stay in that fight for seven minutes,” Jackson said. “The bottom line is, where are you from a mental standpoint as far as, are you going to battle and are you going to go to war for seven minutes? If you’re not going to do that, then you’ll see a dominating style out of them. If you do that, you’ll see a great match.

“You’ll see two competitors that will compete for seven minutes and the best man is going to win that match.”

Iowa State’s No. 7 Pat Downey brings the fight no matter who or where he’s wrestling.

The problem is Downey has been out the last few matches due to a rib injury. He said he feels good and is ready to wrestle. But ultimately it’ll be coach Jackson’s decision.

If Downey does wrestle, he’ll be pitted against No. 8 Sammy Brooks.

“We wrestled last summer at University [Nationals] and I feel like I should be able to beat him a little worse than I did there,” Downey said. “Obviously I want to keep dominating. Every match I’ve wrestled so far, I’ve pinned them at 184 pounds. Anytime I wrestle that’s the plan — nothing really changes with the opponent.”

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Iowa State redshirt junior Patrick Downey wraps up his opponent during a match at the Harold Nichols Cyclone Open on Sunday, November 13. 

Over the past number of years, the Cy-Hawk series hasn’t gone the Cyclones’ way in wrestling. And it’ll be tough for Iowa State to change that this year.

Iowa has three NCAA finalists on its roster. But No. 1 Cory Clark will be out for the match against Iowa State, according to the Cedar Rapids Gazette.

Clark wrestles at 133 pounds, so Hall will wrestle Clarks’ backup. It’s a good opportunity to prove Hall’s still a National contender.

“I think this is a great weekend for him to make that [mental] connection,” lower-weight coach Angel Escobedo said. “The type of pace [Iowa] brings, I want to see if Earl can match it, and then go above it. If [his teammates] can see Earl do it and see him make that connection, and actually go out there and dominate, then it would be a snowball effect and everyone’s going to buy in.”

Two of Iowa State’s redshirt freshmen seem to have already made that connection.

Colston DiBlasi at 157 pounds and Chase Straw at 149 pounds have both battled in every match they’ve wrestled of late. But they both have a tough test ahead of them wrestling top-five opponents.

“My freshmen, I really like what I see out of DiBlasi and Straw going to Vegas and competing with their heart,” Jackson said. “DiBlasi has eight pins on the season, so he’s competing. Straw, probably not the most talented kid on our team, but as a freshman, he’s going out there and going to war. He’s battling.

“And for me to see him do that and to see a couple of our upperclassmen not battle like that is frustrating.”

DiBlasi is wrestling fellow freshman No. 4 Michael Kemerer.

DiBlasi’s never wrestled Kemerer, but their club teams competed in high school. DiBlasi knows Kemerer is fundamentally sound.

While Kemerer is a traditional, fundamental wrestler, DiBlasi has his own unique style. It’ll make for an interesting match in a battle of styles.

DiBlasi went to the Iowa and Iowa State match two years ago at Carver-Hawkeye to see what the atmosphere was like. Iowa State’s 197-pound wrestler Kyven Gadson pinned his opponent.

CyHawk Wrestling Duel

Redshirt senior Kyven Gadson pins Iowa’s Kris Klapprodt for a victory for the Cyclones. Gadson later received a point penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct in the 197-pound match at the Cy-Hawk Series duel which took place on Nov. 29 in Iowa City. The No. 15 Cyclones struggled to secure matches that were close, falling to rival No. 1 Iowa 28-8.

He was booed relentlessly.

“[I want to be booed] pretty badly, actually,” DiBlasi said. “I’ve never had it happen before. I want to hear the whole stadium boo me.

“That’d be one thing to celebrate because I don’t celebrate whether I win or lose, so that’d be something to celebrate about when everyone in the whole arena doesn’t like you. That’s called winning right there.”

Downey believes if the whole lineup connects to what the coaches want them to, Iowa State could turn some heads.

“If we put our true potential lineup out there we have an opportunity to beat any team in the country,” Downey said. “This is a great opportunity to show the country what we’re capable of.”

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