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Iowa State heavyweight Gannon Gremmel wrestles with Oklahoma's Jake Boyd. Gremmel won the match, 6-1.

After the postponing of Iowa State’s dual with North Dakota State, Sunday’s dual with the No. 9 ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys marks the first dual inside Hilton Coliseum for the first time in over a month and for the first time in 2020.

Opportunities presented

Oklahoma State comes into the weekend as a perennial powerhouse in Big 12 wrestling, and Iowa State has the chance to prove itself as a top team in the Big 12 and in the nation with a win over the Cowboys.

Not only does Iowa State get another shot at a top 10 ranked team in Oklahoma State, but they also have plenty of opportunities to pick up individual signature wins amongst individual weight classes.

Oklahoma State will be bringing in plenty of top 15 guys when it makes the trip out to Ames, Iowa.

The ranked guys coming in for the Pokes include: No. 4 Nick Piccininni (125 pounds), No. 11 Kaden Gfeller (141), No. 3 Boo Lewallen (149), No. 9 Travis Wittlake (165), No. 12 Joseph Smith (174) and No. 11 Dakota Geer (197).

“[I’m] really excited; any time you get a top 10 matchup, or any matchup for that matter, it’s exciting, especially competing at home,” said redshirt junior Alex Mackall. “[Coach Kevin] Dresser said that we haven’t beaten this team in 10 years, so the opportunity to do it at home is going to be really awesome.”

Getting a win over the Cowboys, as well as picking up some potential individual signature wins, may give the Cyclones a massive confidence boost and some momentum as they work towards March.

Program progression

Since taking the reins of the wrestling program three years ago, Head Coach Kevin Dresser has noticed some major changes in the culture surrounding Iowa State wrestling.

Wrestling at Iowa State has been gaining more and more interest from the fans as Dresser and company try to turn Iowa State into one of the elite teams in the country.

“One of the very first things that excited me about this opportunity, almost three years ago now, was the fact that Hilton Coliseum is such an electric place to wrestle,” Dresser said.

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Iowa State then-redshirt sophomore Ian Parker locks up with his opponent during the Cyclones' match against Missouri on Feb. 24. The Cyclones lost 15-23.

The wrestlers also echo Dresser’s excitement about the increasing love for Iowa State wrestling over their time at Iowa State.

“It’s crazy,” said redshirt junior Ian Parker. “I remember my first dual in Hilton was against Drexel; we actually lost that dual, but I remember just the excitement of Hilton.”

With the returning talent along with all of the recruits Dresser has brought in, the excitement around wrestling may only go up from here.

The 149 situation

Cyclone fans have been awaiting the return of usual starter and No. 7 ranked Jarrett Degen after Degen got injured back at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational.

Waiting for the Cyclones on Sunday is the No. 3 guy at 149, so it’ll be a big match for whoever makes it out on the mat.

Dresser confirmed Degen has been training, but it’s not set in stone that the redshirt junior will return on Sunday.

“If we think he’s ready to go, he’s going to be ready to go,” Dresser said. “We’ll probably weigh in two guys there, but we’ll have a pretty good idea on Saturday.”

If Degen doesn’t make his return, Ryan Leisure will resume his role at 149, as he’s recorded a 3-3 record in the place of the NCAA All-American.

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