Iowa State came to wrestle.
The #14 ranked Cyclones traveled from Ames to Jacksonville, Florida to “Battle in River City”- a PPV event streamed exclusively on Rokfin- with one goal in mind; win every dual meet.
When all was said and done, they did just that.
After a pair of convincing wins over Little Rock (33-7) & Campbell (34-3), the Cyclones set themselves up for a Top 15 showdown. The #12 ranked Wisconsin Badgers, a well-coached squad from the powerful BIG10, were waiting.
I don’t think anyone outside Head Coach Kevin Dresser could have predicted what happened next. Dresser, in his 6th season at the helm, had his young team ready to roll- and roll they did- winning 8 of 10 bouts in the process.
The dual kicked off at 125 lbs. Sophomore Kysen Terukina got things started by upsetting #6 ranked Eric Barnett, a 2x All-American, 9-7. This was a big win for Terukina, who was an NCAA Qualifier last season- finishing 18-8.
At 133 lbs, the pattern continued. Sophomore Zach Redding (who was a 2021 NCAA Qualifier) upended #12 ranked Taylor Lamont, an All-American and transfer from Utah Valley, 10-4. Another huge tone-setting win for the Cyclones.
Next, true freshman Casey Swiderski made his much anticipated debut at 141 lbs. Swiderski, a 4x Michigan State Champion and the #3 overall recruit in the class of 2022, defeated #11 ranked Joe Zargo (a 2022 NCAA Qualifier) 10-5. He looked every bit ready for division 1 wrestling.
At this point, the pattern became a trend.
At 149 lbs, freshman Paniro Johnson saw what his teammates were doing, and decided he wanted in. Johnson, a 4-time PIAA placewinner (8, 5, 3, 3) for Eerie Cathedral Prep, is no stranger to big matches. In high school, he routinely wrestled 20+ bouts in Fargo, only to return with hardware in both styles. In other words, Paniro Johnson is a proven asset. Still, this was college wrestling and #2 ranked Austin Gomez, an upper body expert and returning All-American, was heavily favored in the bout.
Let’s just say Paniro made a statement- he too, is an expert of sorts. Johnson countered any and all attempts by Gomez, exhibiting his strength and good positioning throughout the match. His 9-4 win would send teammates and fans out of their seats. It would also give Iowa State an early 11-0 lead (they were docked a team point at *125 lbs).
Talk about a hot start, the Cyclones had wrestled 4 matches and already beaten 4 ranked opponents. To make things even more promising, all 4 ranked wins were by underclassmen.
Wisconsin would get their first win at 157 lbs, where #18 ranked Garrett Model edged senior Austin Kraisser 6-5. Kraisser exhibited alot of fight in this match, keeping it close throughout.
The bout of the evening, and perhaps the entire event, would come next at 165 lbs. Cyclone captain David Carr- an NCAA Champion and 2x All-American- recently moved up to 165 lbs where he sits ranked #3. His first big test at the new weight class would be #5 ranked Dean Hamiti, a returning All-American who oozes excitement every time he steps on the mat. Carr would pass that test, earning a 7-5 victory. He certainly has the mojo to win this new weight class, period.
Wisconsin would get it’s final win of the dual at 174 lbs, where true freshman James Rowley- a 4x State Champ from Oregon- would edge another true freshman, MJ Gaitan, 4-3. Gaitan was a California State Champ last March before committing to wrestle for the Cyclones.
Iowa State’s only two losses of the dual would come by 1-point; the entire roster performed.
184 lbs was all business for Senior Marcus Coleman, a returning All-American (7th) at the weight class. Coleman picked up where he left off and pinned Tyler Dow in the 1st period.
At 197 lbs, crowd favorite and #6 ranked Yonger Bastida would take on the well-respected Braxton Amos- who currently sits at #20. Bastida defeated Amos in the opening round of the NCAA tournament last March, 3-2, before capturing All-American status with a 5th place finish. He would once again come out victorious vs. Amos, this time winning 5-3. Both wrestlers will be in the mix to make the podium this year, as their honorable battles have forged a new rivalry.
Finally, at HWT, we experience one last ranked win for the Cyclones. How fitting? #16 Sam Schuyler grinded out a 3-2 win over 2x All-American Trent Hillger, who is ranked as high as #11. Schuyler is a senior and was a 2022 NCAA Qualifier. A big early-season win for the big man.
In summary, Iowa State didn’t just come to wrestle- they came to battle, they came to win.
26-6 over the Wisconsin Badgers is a statement.
Their dazzling rookie debuts and overall domination throughout the entire event should excite fans and set a tone for the rest of the season. Dresser and the Cyclone faithful will need all the momentum they can get, as they surge toward Iowa City on Sunday, Dec. 4th where the next chapter of a bitter rivalry awaits.
Hawkeyes, take notice.