Cyclones send seven to Des Moines for NCAA Championship


Redshirt sophomore Kyven Gadson kicks No. 11 Blake Rosholt’s leg from out from under him to send him to the floor at the Big 12 Duals on March 8, 2013, at Gallagher-Iba Arena. No.7 Gadson won his match by a final score of 6-5.

Dan Cole

The ISU wrestling team will send seven wrestlers to Des Moines next week for the NCAA Championship, which is the most it has sent to the tournament since the 2009-10 season when it sent all 10.

The Cyclones (11-5, 3-3 Big 12) placed second at the Big 12 Championships in Stillwater, Okla., last weekend, which was also their best finish since 2009-10.

Although only one Cyclone, 197-pounder Kyven Gadson, won a Big 12 title last weekend, Iowa State still managed to walk away with six automatic bids.

Luke Goettl (141 pounds), Max Mayfield (149), Tanner Weatherman (174) and Boaz Beard (184) all made it to the finals at their respective weight classes, assuring themselves spots in the NCAA tournament. Michael Moreno also earned an automatic bid by placing third at 165 pounds.

“I think it was a good weekend for us,” Mayfield said. “I think one of the biggest things we got out of it is four or five big matches for us. It was kind of a national tournament simulation, and we got to wrestle some tough guys. It’s just a stepping stone to next week at nationals.”

Heavyweight Matt Gibson received an at-large bid to the tournament on March 13, 2013 as well, increasing the Cyclones’ total to seven.

Despite being crowned Big 12 champion, Gadson has been dealing with tragic family issues away from the mat. His father, Willie, passed away on March 10 after a year-long battle with cancer.

Gadson made it home to Waterloo, Iowa, following the tournament in time to say goodbye to his father. He is now faced with the challenge of overcoming his father’s passing and competing for a national title.

“It still hasn’t really hit me,” Gadson said. “I’m assuming it will after the funeral or whatnot, but I’m in a pretty good place, and so is the family right now. So I’m happy with that.”

ISU coach Kevin Jackson said he expected Gadson to stay in Waterloo for a few days to help out his mother with the transition. When Jackson called Gadson to figure out a practice schedule for this week, the response he got was shocking.

“He was like, ‘Coach, I’m on my way back. I’ve got work to do,’ and that was exciting to see,” Jackson said. “I think having that opportunity to be with his father prior to him passing and being in the room when he did pass was something that he needed. I think time will tell.”

The NCAA tournament will take place over three days and will feature 330 wrestlers — 33 per weight class — from Division I schools all across the country. The size and spotlight of the tournament is something the Cyclones have been prepared for by large tournaments earlier on in the season, such as the Midlands Championships and last weekend’s Big 12s.

After only four wins as a team last season, this season has been a tremendous turnaround for the Cyclones, something that even one national champion would add an exclamation point to.

“I think this year could be the year to kind of put us back on the map [and] turn the program back around,” Weatherman said. “People are always saying, ‘Next year will be good. Next year will be good,’ but I think really this year could be the year. A couple of All-Americans and maybe throw someone on top of the podium — that’s going to make a big statement for the program.”

The NCAA Championships will begin in Des Moines on Thursday, March 21, and will run through Saturday, March 23. The tournament will be broadcast live on the ESPN family of networks.