Iowa State wrestling returns to Ames after its sixth-place performance at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational this past weekend. The Cyclones experienced plenty of ups and downs at Cliff Keen, but now they shift their focus to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
The battle at 133
Austin Gomez came into the 2019-20 season as one of the top-ranked guys at 133 pounds, but questions surrounded his return to 133.
Gomez weighed above 133 during the summer and right as the wrestling season began, he suffered a concussion, keeping him out of action and even delaying his original return date to 133 at Cliff Keen.
Redshirt junior Todd Small has been holding down 133 so far this season, and he’s had his ups and downs. Small started the season off by winning the open 133 title at the Cyclone Open, but proceeded to lose both of his matches against Bucknell and Iowa, including a 16-5 major decision loss to Austin DeSanto.
Small surprised many with his fourth place run at Cliff Keen, including wins over the No. 11 seeded Louie Hayes of Virginia and No. 7 seeded Tim Rooney of Kent State, as well as a close 5-3 decision loss to No. 1 seeded Charles Tucker of Cornell.
“It’s still open for discussion, but I think Todd Small has inserted himself [at 133],” said assistant coach Derek St. John. “Austin has to get healthy and get back to where he can be. Austin got to prove himself to us a little bit that he wants to be there if that’s the weight class he wants to go.”
With Gomez set to return soon paired with the wave of momentum Small is riding, coach Kevin Dresser and company will have some decisions to make regarding the future at 133.
Degen’s Saturday status questionable
Heading into the second day of Cliff Keen, the No. 2 seeded Jarrett Degen was one of three semifinalists for Iowa State. However, Degen medically forfeited all three of his matches, landing him a sixth-place finish at 149. After medically forfeiting those three matches, Degen dropped in the updated InterMat rankings from No. 6 to No. 10.
St. John did not give any specifics of Degen’s injury and mentioned Degen is a maybe for Saturday against Chattanooga, but they’re leaning towards holding him out.
“If it was his choice, he’d be ready to go,” St. John said. “I don’t think you’ll see Jarrett Degen this weekend; that’ll be a game time decision.”
If the coaching staff decides Degen is ready to go on Saturday, Cyclone fans may see the season debut of redshirt sophomore Ryan Leisure.
Leisure posted a 19-9 record during his redshirt freshman season, highlighted by a 141 title win at the Last Chance Open and winning his only dual appearance against Sawyer Degen of North Dakota State.
Lineup expectations for Southern Scuffle
Chattanooga is making the trip out to Ames on Saturday, and after an extended break, Iowa State will be making the trip out to Chattanooga when the Mocs host the Southern Scuffle on Jan. 1 and 2.
It’s safe to say the Southern Scuffle won’t be nearly as intense as the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, featuring 16 of the top 25 ranked teams and some of the top-ranked wrestlers in each weight class.
There’s still plenty of time before the Southern Scuffle, so the lineup for the Cyclones isn’t set in stone.
“We’ll sit down and discuss it,” St. John said. “Guys that have had really good weekends probably don’t need the matches or don’t need to insert themselves in the scuffle near as much as the other guys.”
One thing that St. John was confident in saying about the Southern Scuffle lineup was the lineup would be featuring some redshirts wrestlers.
Depending on how the dual with Chattanooga goes, some of the top guys for the Cyclones may not be making the trip out to Tennessee in early January.