Following a much-needed rest after traveling to Orem, Utah, and Tempe, Arizona, for its duals against Utah Valley and the Sundevil Duals, Iowa State has its sights set on South Dakota State and North Dakota State this weekend.
The Cyclones (4-3, 1-0 Big 12) start their weekend in Brookings, South Dakota, on Friday when they are hosted by the South Dakota State Jackrabbits (5-3, 2-0 Big 12).
Iowa State returns home to Hilton Coliseum a few days later on Sunday when the Cyclones host the North Dakota State Bison (3-3, 0-1 Big 12).
Iowa State will be without its usual 149 pounder Jarrett Degen for the weekend matchups with the Jackrabbits and the Bison after head coach Kevin Dresser confirmed they were going to hold Degen out for the weekend.
Dresser also commented on the competition awaiting them Friday.
“South Dakota State is on a high right now, they just beat [Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa], which is a hard thing to do,” Dresser said. “They’re going to be gunning for us and when you walk into a place where they’re gunning for you, you got to be tough.”
The matchup at 149 and 197 will prove to be a good test for Iowa State’s Ryan Leisure (149) and Joel Shapiro (197).
Despite having a young squad, the Jackrabbits hold top 20 wrestlers in weights which have proven to be very inconsistent for the current starters for the Cyclones.
With Degen being held out, Leisure will continue to fill the spot at 149 after coming off a successful weekend which saw him go 4-1 total, winning his duals against Utah Valley, Harvard and No. 7 Arizona State.
Leisure will have a test waiting for him on Friday in the form of the Jackrabbits’ Henry Pohlmeyer, who is coming into the weekend being ranked at No. 11 after gaining a major decision victory over Northern Iowa's ranked No. 7 Max Thomsen.
Pohlmeyer’s performance against Northern Iowa and Wyoming earned him the honor of Big 12 Wrestler of the Week.
“[Leisure] has been making improvements, he’s starting to push him more in the room, sometimes getting in the lineup and be the starter, that happens,” Dresser said.
Facing a similar test is Joel Shapiro, who is coming off a weekend in which he went 1-2. Fellow freshmen Francis Duggan got the start in the Harvard dual.
Waiting for Shapiro in Brookings is the No. 17 ranked Tanner Sloan who’s coming off a successful week which saw him gain a decision victory in SDSU’s 17-16 win over Wyoming.
A matchup for Cyclone fans to keep an eye on is the battle at 125. Facing off with Iowa State’s No. 13 ranked Alex Mackall is an Iowa State transfer, Danny Vega.
Once the Cyclones return home, they’ll have another set of challenges to look forward to when they host North Dakota State.
The Cyclones are hoping for a successful outcome after traveling to South Dakota State and hosting North Dakota State after dropping two of their last four duals.
“I think a lot of guys on this team learned, myself included, that there’s a lot of adversity that happens,” said redshirt junior Ian Parker.
The Bison present another set of challenges when the Cyclones return home for their first dual at Hilton in nearly a month.
The biggest test for any of the Cyclones will be at 133, where Iowa State’s No. 15 ranked Todd Small will have an opportunity, facing a top 10 opponent in NDSU’s No. 10 ranked Cam Sykora.
Sykora is coming off a tough loss to another top 10 ranked opponent in Wyoming’s Montorie Bridges, who’s listed at No. 8 in InterMat rankings.
Small, on the other hand, is coming off a week in which he went 3-1 in his last four duals, with the one loss coming against Campbell’s Noah Gonser.
The Cyclones and the Bison will have another top 10 clash at heavyweight, as Iowa State’s Gannon Gremmel is ranked at No. 14 and NDSU’s Brandon Metz is ranked at No. 14.
Gremmel is coming off a less-than-desirable performance in the Sundevil duals after going 0-3 against Campbell, Harvard and Arizona State, just after he won the 285 title at the Southern Scuffle.
“When you go into a big tournament like that, everybody sees you and wants a piece of you,” Dresser said. “You have to respond and he didn’t do a good job of responding to that, so I’m curious to see how he rebounds.”
Metz suffered a similar fate as Sykora in their dual against Wyoming. Metz lost to the No. 19 ranked Brian Andrews after Andrews pinned him in just under a minute.
While Jarrett Degen may be held out due to his shoulder injury, Cyclone fans will still get the opportunity to see a Degen wrestle on Sunday.
On the opposing side of Iowa State’s No. 5 ranked Ian Parker at 141 is the younger brother of Jarrett, Sawyer Degen.
The redshirt sophomore came off a loss in sudden victory in the Wyoming dual, losing 4-2 to Trevor Jeffries.
On the other side, Parker has been one of the most consistent grapplers for Kevin Dresser’s squad.
Parker has been a consistent top five ranked wrestler at 141 with a 12-2 record on the season, including a 7-0 dual record after going undefeated in Iowa State’s last four duals.
Even though things haven’t gone the way the Cyclones had envisioned to the tee, the Cyclones can use this weekend to keep their momentum moving through conference duals and into March.
“It’s a process, you take those things with a grain of salt,” said redshirt junior Sam Colbray. “Even if you’re doing good, there’s always something you can fix.”
Friday’s dual against South Dakota State will start at 7 p.m. and can be viewed through FloWrestling.
Sunday’s dual with North Dakota State will start at 2 p.m. and will be streamed through Cyclones.tv and FloWrestling.