Sorenson utilizes past absence as motivation for nationals


Photo: Rebekka Brown/Iowa State Daily

Senior Andrew Sorenson celebrates his 21-6 win over Cornell University’s Marshall Peppelman during the meet on Sunday, Jan. 29, at Hilton Coliseum.

Jake Calhoun

Last season, Andrew Sorenson had the privilege of watching his teammate Jon Reader win a national championship.

The only problem: Sorenson had watched the entire 2011 NCAA Championships from the stands.

“I went out to watch the guys compete, I had to be there for them,” Sorenson said. “Being in the stands made me realize that I can compete with the best guys in the country. That really put it in my perspective that I can beat those guys. It’s not something I wanted to do, it’s not where I wanted to be, but everything happens for a reason.”

Sorenson, a redshirt senior, was forced to forfeit an automatic bid to last year’s national tournament after tearing his ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow just weeks before the Big 12 Championships.

“I know it was very difficult, but I think he recognized that he couldn’t compete to the level he needed to to have any success at the tournament,” said ISU coach Kevin Jackson. “His elbow was blown out. I know it was devastating and disappointing to him, but he was injured, and he wasn’t going to be able to wrestle.”

This season for Sorenson has been dedicated to avenging his absence from nationals, compiling a 26-2 record en route to earning a No. 3 seed in the 165-pound bracket of the 2012 NCAA Championships, which will be held on March 15 to 17 in St. Louis.

Last year, Sorenson was the first person Reader acknowledged after walking off the mat following his championship match, and Reader said he knows Sorenson could see the same success this year.

“You saw the guys that placed at his weight and I believe that Andrew, if he wrestled the way that I know Andrew can wrestle, that he was very capable of being an All-American,” Reader said. “He is at that level and he is capable of winning a national title and he is capable of wrestling with the best in the country.”

In his quest to compete against the best in the country at nationals, Sorenson improved in multiple facets.

“He’s managed to stay healthy, he’s managed to stay focused, and he’s managed to continue to get better in must-win positions,” Jackson said. “I think a must-win position is what cost him the Big 12 title, but at the same time, it’s better that it happened at the Big 12 Championships rather than the NCAA tournament.”

While Sorenson has spent the season as the Cyclones’ most consistent wrestler and team captain, he was not immune to misfortunes as Reader — who went undefeated his senior season — was.

Sorenson lost to Missouri’s Zach Toal in a 3-2 decision at the Big 12 Championships on March 3, missing his final shot to win a conference title. However, winning a conference title does not always translate into success at the national title.

“You’ve seen the NCAA tournament, and every single year it doesn’t pan out the way it should,” Reader said. “And like I said, if you stick to the training that we’ve been implementing since August, then great things are going to come. You’ve got to go out there and fight.”

Sorenson received a draw with familiar opponents. Of the 16 other wrestlers in his half of the brackets, he is 8-1 against those he has faced.

However, he will be relying on his mental preparedness, not past results, to find success at the tournament.

“If I don’t think I can go out and win the national tournament, then I’m not mentally prepared,” Sorenson said. “After the loss at Big 12s, I just made my road a little bit tougher, but it doesn’t matter because I have to beat everybody anyways to win the national title.”