Iowa State Wrestling has already kickstarted its 2020 with the Southern Scuffle, but now the Cyclones look forward to opening up conference duals as it travels to Orem, Utah, to square off with the Utah Valley Wolverines.
Thursday’s dual between the Cyclones and the Wolverines marks the third meeting between their respective heavyweights. Gannon Gremmel (Iowa State) and Tate Orndorff (Utah Valley) faced off twice during the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational (CKLV) in December.
Gremmel and Orndorff first met in the quarterfinals of the CKLV. In the first matchup, Orndorff recorded two takedowns in the third period leading to the 7-3 decision over Gremmel. This win pushed Orndorff to the semifinals and the loss sent Gremmel to the consolation bracket.
The two would meet up once again in the third-place bout match at 285. Orndorff edged out Gremmel in a 3-2 decision win and holding a 2-0 record against Gremmel on the year.
Gremmel defeated Orndorff via fall in their matchup during the 2018-19 season when Utah Valley made the trip to Ames.
No. 23 Gannon Gremmel had the bout of the night against Utah Valley pinning No.9 Tate Orndorff in Hilton! @CycloneWR is on the road at Oregon State Monday night. #CycloneTop10Nominee pic.twitter.com/G4DsldJguW— Cyclones.tv (@CyclonesTV) February 9, 2019
"It’s going to be at his house, so kind of more hostile, so it’s going to be fun and I just got to wrestle hard for seven minutes,” Gremmel said. “I know what he does, I know how he hand fights, so I’m going to try to make it come down to toughness at the end.”
For some of the guys, it’ll be their first time back on the mat in competition in nearly a month.
Only three of the regular starters made the trip to the Scuffle, so the last time most of the starters faced competition was back on Dec. 14 with the home dual against Chattanooga, as well as the CKLV a week beforehand.
On top of the long break, the team has to prepare for four total duals in the span of a few days with the Sundevil Duals coming on Saturday.
Dresser made it a point to make sure his guys were still back in the gym and training physically and mentally for the beginning of their rough January schedule.
“Just doing a lot of training and sharpening some skills and getting a lot better at mat wrestling and wrestling on my feet,” said redshirt freshmen David Carr. “Just a lot of things that [Kevin] Dresser felt was important and I feel like they are too.”
Going into Thursday, Utah Valley has recorded five straight dual losses, with the most recent duals being against fellow Big 12 foes in Northern Iowa and Fresno State.
The Wolverines are currently 0-5 all-time against the Cyclones with the most recent matchup ending in a dominating 53-0 victory for Iowa State, which included four falls, three major decisions and a tech fall.
After facing some injury issues a year ago, Utah Valley will go up against Iowa State with a healthy team, which includes Kimball Bastian, who is currently ranked at No. 12 amongst 174 pounders by InterMat Wrestling.
Bastian didn’t compete in the last meeting between the two schools. Kyle Snelling filled his spot against Iowa State’s Marcus Coleman in a match which saw Coleman tech fall Snelling 17-2.
With Bastian being fully healthy, Coleman has another opportunity to test himself against another top-15 opponent.
For the Cyclones, Ryan Leisure will still be holding down the starting spot at 149 as Dresser and company decided to hold out Jarrett Degen, who is recovering from a shoulder injury suffered during the CKLV. Leisure was thought to have had a broken nose during the Scuffle, but Dresser confirmed he is fine and good to go for the first dual of 2020, which has much excitement surrounding it.
“We’re excited to go out west, we get four shots here in the next couple days and it’s going to be a really, really busy January,” Dresser said. “We’ve had our more elite guys back here training since Dec. 27, so I can tell you they’re excited to get out of the wrestling room and get west.”