CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – Kevin Dresser was straight to the point when asked why he sent heavyweight and 12th-ranked Gannon Gremmel, one of three starters and the only top-20 guy in his lineup, to the Southern Scuffle.
"Gremmel seems to really improve the most when he's competing," the third-year Iowa State head coach said. "We get the most out of him when he competes."
Gremmel made his coach look good Thursday night.
The redshirt junior went a perfect 5-0 during the week, outscoring his opponents 36-13 to capture first place in his weight class, the first tournament title for a Cyclone wrestler this season.
It's the first time Iowa State has an individual win at the Southern Scuffle since Earl Hall claimed the top spot in 2015. The win could potentially move Gremmel into the top-10 when new rankings from InterMat are released in the coming days.
Like he did during the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, Gremmel had a flare for the dramatics.
In his semifinal against 19th-ranked Cary Miller of Appalachian State, the match was tied at one on a pair of escapes then Gremmel was hit for his second stalling call to give Miller a 2-1 lead in the third period.
As the buzzer sounded, Gremmel registered a takedown that was challenged by the Cyclones corner and awarded for the 3-2 triumph.
In the championship match, it was a pair of takedowns within the opening minute that pushed the Dubuque, Iowa, native out to a 4-0 lead. Gremmel's opponent — Dalton Robertson from Northern Colorado — was seen limping.
Robertson couldn't continue and had to medically forfeit, giving Gremmel the win.
The other two wrestlers that remained alive after the opening day, Chase Straw (165) and Julien Broderson (184), went one-and-done.
Straw couldn't finish shots to secure a third-period takedown and dropped a 3-2 decision to Rutgers' Brett Donner while Broderson went down early to eight-seeded Anthony Montalvo of Oklahoma State and lost 8-4.
Iowa State placed 15th in the steam standings with 36.5 points. The Cowboys won the team title with 116 points thanks to five top-3 finishes.
The Cyclones turn their attention to a west coast rod swing where they face Utah Valley for the Big 12 opener then two days later wrestle at Chase Field for the Sun Devil Duals.