Wrestling seeks fresh start to take Big 12 title in postseason


165-pound Michael Moreno throws his opponent, Danny Zilverberg, during the dual against Minnesota on Feb. 23 at Hilton Coliseum. The Cyclones fell to the Golden Gophers 12-27. Moreno took his match in a 7-3 decision.

Ryan Young

With the regular season over, the ISU wrestlers have a new mindset: a fresh start.

“For a lot of people, they’re just excited to start the postseason,” said 165-pounder Michael Moreno. “You get to start over, it’s the postseason now. You’re 0-0, records are out the window. Just go win a Big 12 title, you don’t need a good record for that.”

The Cyclones have struggled to find consistency throughout the season, however some seem to think that’s changing, at least on some level.

Moreno, who is embracing the “fresh start” that March brings, doesn’t have much to shed from the regular season. The All-American finished the season with a record of 25-6, one of the best marks on the team.

But to the redshirt junior, his record is nothing more than just a number.

“I couldn’t tell you my record right now, honestly,” Moreno said. “It’s just not important to me. Every time I step on the mat, I try to maintain a 0-0 mindset [and] 1-0 is always the goal for me.”

Moreno also heads into the postseason having won six-straight matches, and he recorded his 60th career win last weekend against Minnesota. The redshirt junior even led the team in takedowns this season with 39.

Even though Moreno might not pay attention to the statistics himself, others are starting to take notice.

“I think Mike’s got a great opportunity to become a Big 12 Champion,” said ISU coach Kevin Jackson. “He’s got to get through that first match, that Oklahoma kid. But once he gets past him, I think he’s got a great opportunity. I know he’s looking forward to that.”

It’s not just Moreno who is starting to peak at the right time. Jackson sees throughout his team that they are ready to step up to the challenge.

“It’s an exciting part of the season,” Jackson said. “Dual meets are fun, but this is the real season. The guys are ready for it, and we have some guys who are really eager for the Big 12 Championship to begin. It’s an exciting time.”

Iowa State heads into the Big 12 Championships coming off of a second place finish last year. The tournament’s initial front runners are Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, which could mount an interesting challenge for the Cyclones.

Both the Sooners and the Cowboys defeated Iowa State in the regular season, and have been ranked consistently in the top 10 all season. However, because Iowa State has seen these two teams in action once already, Jackson feels he may have a bit of an advantage.

“Both teams are very, very strong,” Jackson said. “Oklahoma and Oklahoma State have had really great seasons. There will be some great matchups for us. The best thing about it is that we’ve seen everybody that we’re going to face. It’s going to come down to who wants it the most.”

But the question may remain how Iowa State can actually come out on top in the Big 12. The team feels that if the wrestlers can finish out the close matches, and perhaps snag a win that they maybe weren’t supposed to, that they would have a good shot.

“We have to go out and win the close matches,” Moreno said. “We need to go out there and steal away some of those matches that we didn’t win last time. Also, we’re going to have to get some upsets in there. We’re not favored in a lot of weights, but guys are going to have to go in there hungry for a title. If we take care of business, then we’ll be all right.”