Gibson pushing for repeat as Big 12 champ


Matt Gibson grapples with Iowa’s Bobby Telford during the heavyweight match of Iowa State’s 32-3 loss to Iowa on Saturday, Dec. 1 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Dan Cole

Matt Gibson was the only conference champion on the ISU wrestling team last season.

This season, the redshirt senior heavyweight is striving for nothing less than a repeat and an ideal ending to his collegiate career.

Following a 26-10 record in 2011-12, Gibson is 12-4 so far this season and is putting together a formidable effort toward the end of the schedule. He is 4-1 in dual meets since the Cyclones lost at Iowa on Dec. 1.

“I think ever since the Iowa match, even in the Iowa match, I think Matt Gibson has competed to a very high level,” said ISU coach Kevin Jackson. “He continues to push the envelope. He knows that he’s got a couple months left in his collegiate career and he’s making a big push to be able to accomplish his goals.”

Accomplishing those goals is not going to be easy for Gibson. Three of the five teams remaining on the Cyclones’ schedule roster heavyweights that are ranked nationally by Intermat, namely No. 3 Alan Gelogaev of Oklahoma State, No. 7 Michael McClure of Michigan State and No. 15 Levi Cooper of Arizona State.

“I think it’ll be a good simulation for the NCAA tournament in March,” Gibson said. “I’ll have to wrestle ranked guy after ranked guy so it’ll be just a good chance to get my body used to that and gauge where I’m at for the rest of the season.”

Last weekend in West Virginia, Gibson had numerous family members and friends on-hand to watch him wrestle for the Cyclones as they dominated the Mountaineers by a 30-3 margin.

Gibson said he had at least 29 supporters show up to watch him wrestle, which helped him prepare and stay focused on the match. Gibson went on to defeat West Virginia’s Phil Mandzik by pinning him in 5:39.

“It was just fun,” Gibson said. “A lot of them I hadn’t seen in years, some of them I hadn’t even met, so it was just nice to go out in front of my family.”

Such support may be a key if Gibson plans to make it back to where he finished last season.

Despite the difficulty of his remaining schedule, those around Gibson believe his chance of repeating as Big 12 heavyweight champion are not out of the question.

“I think he has a really good chance [of repeating],” said ISU redshirt freshman Tanner Weatherman. “He’s wrestling really well; he’s wrestling with a lot of confidence; he’s going out there and brawling for seven minutes and I think, in his mind, he doesn’t think anyone can beat him.”