NOTEBOOK: Larson steps up, team looks to improve


Brian Achenbach/Iowa State Daily

Redshirt junior Mike Moreno,165 lbs, grapples with his opponent Jan. 12 at Hilton Coliseum. Moreno won by major decision. Iowa State lost the dual to Oklahoma 11 to 27.

Ryan Young

Redshirt freshman Kyle Larson got the news that he would be wrestling on Sunday instead of usual starter Earl Hall Jan. 11 for the Jan. 12 dual against Oklahoma. Hall, the regular at the 125-pound weight class, suffered a minor injury to his knee the day before.

There was just one problem; Larson was five pounds over weight.

“I’m really proud of Kyle,” said ISU coach Kevin Jackson. “He found out he was going to have to make weight [Saturday], and he sucked it up and got it done. He was ready to go, and competed pretty well.”

And while Larson didn’t win the match — he lost to No. 5 Jarrod Patterson 5-0 — he still kept the match close, keeping the score within three points until the very end of the match.

Despite the loss, Larson still managed to catch the eye of his coach.

“He showed that his head was in the right place,” Jackson said. “He competed hard every single second of that match. That showed me his head was in the right place to give us that depth that we need, and to challenge for that spot.”

Leaving matches on the mat

The Cyclones won only three matches against the Sooners, but several matches, however, were decided in just the final seconds.

Boaz Beard and John Nicholson’s matches were each decided in the third period, and in Beard’s case, within the last 30 seconds.

These close matches are something Jackson feels could have swung the dual in Iowa State’s direction.

“It comes back to toughness and effort,” Jackson said. “You can’t leave matches hanging in the balance. We came in expecting to fully win those matches, and we’re coming out of that dual with a little different feeling if that happens. That just can’t happen, especially in your home gym. It was pretty disappointing.”

Nicholson knows the team left some close matches out there last weekend, but he is taking it as a learning experience, and using it to prepare for the meet Jan. 17 against Rutgers.

“We just need consistency and effort,” Nicholson said. “Close matches are really won by who wants it more. But against Rutgers, we need to finish the period, because they are going to wait to score on us at the end. We can’t give that up.”

Cyclones find areas to improve

While few of the wrestlers are happy with the team’s performance against Oklahoma, they also realized that facing highly-ranked teams will make them better in the long run.

“There are no surprises as to the level of competition that we are going to face,” Jackson said. “As you look forward, its all the same. There are going to be tough guys that we will face at the national meet that we have to give effort and put ourselves in a position to win. We’re just looking for that total 10-man effort, and we will be all right.”

But on the issue of winning just three matches last week, Iowa State feels that is an issue that should be addressed quickly.

“We need to have a bigger energy and compete,” said All-American Mike Moreno. “And I’m never one to call anyone out, because I’ve had my struggles too, but you can just see it when people aren’t excited to compete out there. You have to be ready to go and realize that you’re wrestling for Iowa State. It’s a big deal. It’s a really, really big deal. We just need to get back to our roots and realize that.”