The Harold Nichols Cyclone Open on Sunday was the first time in the 2019-20 season that members of the Iowa State wrestling team took the mat in Hilton Coliseum.
The Cyclones crowned six champions total from the open and fresh/soph divisions, and multiple wrestlers earned top-six finishes.
More than anything, clarity — at least for the time being — was seen at a crucial weight class for Iowa State.
Shapiro gets starting nod for first dual
When the Cardinal and Gold wrestle-off finals were released over a week ago, the bout at 197-pounds between Francis Duggan and Joel Shapiro was one that had high anticipation.
That's one of the three weight classes that Iowa State will have a new starter from last year. Duggan and Shapiro, two redshirt freshmen, were expected to provide an insight on who would be the number one guy.
It never materialized, as Duggan was held out of the wrestle-off final due to a small injury.
On Sunday for third place at 197, the matchup finally happened.
Shapiro defeated Duggan 3-1 to claim third and all but confirm that he will be the guy at 197.
That confirmation came from coach Kevin Dresser afterward.
"He's the number one guy," Dresser said.
Shapiro is making the move from heavyweight to the starter for the Cyclones' regular season, opening dual in five days against Bucknell.
Even though the Des Moines native is slated to get the start, Dresser said it will be a fluid weight class.
"I'm really looking for the guy that wants to step up and improve all year long," Dresser said. "That's going to be an open weight class until one of them really steps up and decides that they're the guy."
Small impresses in first D1 tournament
Obtaining back-to-back NJCAA National Championships is a feat that is no short order — and Todd Small did just that in his first two years of collegiate wrestling at Iowa Central Community College.
Now, he's embarking on his first year wrestling at the NCAA Division I level.
He got off to an impressive start, putting together three wins by decision to claim the open division crown at 133.
133 | Todd Small scores a late reversal and defeats Colin Valdiviez by 6-4 decision for the 133-pound title!#Cyclones— Iowa State Wrestling (@CycloneWR) November 10, 2019
"[He's] super talented," Dresser said. "He's never had a Division I schedule, week in and week out, and that's a grind, and you got to go after guys."
It was clear early on that Small is comfortable on his feet. In every match, he showed confidence when he was neutral with his opponent.
Small even got out of possible trouble in the final.
Colin Valdiviez, an unattached wrestler from Northwestern, had over three minutes of riding time in his favor as Small held a 4-2 advantage.
A reversal earned Small two cushion points to an eventual 6-4 win. One year after placing second at the Cyclone Open, the redshirt junior grabbed first.
Still, Dresser quickly pointed out things that Small needs to improve on if he wants to remain successful at this level.
"We've got to do some work on the mat," Dresser said. "He got by up to this point in his career with just wrestling a little in and out; can't do that now. He's going to have to wrestle the whole time."
Depth shows at 165
Of the seven wrestlers listed on the Cyclones roster at 165, five were in the open division.
All five placed in the top six. The other — Caleb Long — got third in the fresh/soph division.
The open final was between Chase Straw and Isaac Judge. Straw won 4-2 after he defeated Zane Mulder in the semis. Mulder battled Logan Schumacher in the third place match, where Schumacher defeated his teammate 6-4.
Taylan Entriken lost his quarterfinal match to Mulder but ran through the wrestle backs before falling in the fifth place bout.
Even though Dresser said Straw has separated himself from the pack, he's pleased with the progress of the other wrestlers at that weight.
"I like every one of those 165 [guys] we got, they add a lot to the team," Dresser said.