Jackson returns to hometown for final meets of season


Photo: Tim Reuter/Iowa State Daily

Redshirt freshman Ryak Finch competes against Virginia Tech’s Ty Mitch. Finch beat Mitch 2-0 on Friday, Jan. 13.

Dan Cole

The No. 22 ISU wrestling team will conclude its regular season on the road this weekend as it heads north to take on Michigan State on Friday and Eastern Michigan on Sunday.

The Cyclones (7-4, 1-2 Big 12), who are nationally ranked for the first time this season, are coming off a 23-12 victory against in-state rival Northern Iowa last Friday in their last home dual of the season.

Already with three more wins than the team earned all of last season, the Cyclones head to Michigan this weekend with the intent of finishing the season in a convincing fashion before rolling into Stillwater, Okla. for the Big 12 Championships in March.

“Coming off the UNI match, we feel pretty good,” said ISU coach Kevin Jackson, who is a native of Lansing, Mich. “I thought we wrestled well, but there’s a lot of room for improvement, and we’ll continue to improve this week in our preparation for Michigan State.”

Michigan State (4-12, 0-8 Big Ten) has struggled mightily to find wins this season. The Spartans have lost their last nine dual meets overall, dating back to Jan. 12 and have only two wrestlers on their roster that are nationally ranked by InterMat, compared to four for the Cyclones.

MSU junior Michael McClure, ranked No. 7 at heavyweight by InterMat, is the Spartans’ top-ranked wrestler. He will be taking on redshirt senior Matt Gibson on Friday, who is 13-6 on the season.

The Cyclones are excited to return to Jackson’s hometown for Friday’s meet.

“We’re looking for a lot of excitement out of that and looking for strong finishes to the regular season here,” said ISU assistant coach Troy Nickerson. “Our guys have been wrestling pretty well as of late, and we’re just really looking for the entire team to finish off strong.”

Eastern Michigan (7-12, 1-4 MAC) has also been less than stellar so far this season, having lost six of its last eight duals. The Eagles competed at the Midlands Championships back in December, placing 30th as the Cyclones placed 17th.

The Eagles have no ranked wrestlers on their roster. Freshmen Nick Barber (141 pounds) and Alexander Calandrino (125) are tied for the team lead in wins with 20.

“We had a good win against UNI, now we’ve got to just go through two pretty solid teams,” said ISU redshirt sophomore Ryak Finch, who will likely be Calandrino’s opponent on Sunday. “Especially Michigan State — being in the Big Ten and everything — it’d be good to go and get those wins on the road and make sure we keep the confidence rising.”

This weekend’s meets are slated to begin at 6 p.m. on Friday at Michigan State and noon on Sunday at Eastern Michigan.