Injuries, misfortunes plague Cyclones in 2011-12

Jake Calhoun

A promising season of young talent was plagued by injuries for the ISU wrestling team two years removed from its third-place finish at nationals.

Concussions, back problems and re-aggravated injuries seemed to be the norm for the Cyclones (4-13, 0-6 Big 12) under third-year coach Kevin Jackson, who saw his team finish 35th — the worst finish in program history — at the 2012 NCAA Championships on March 17 in St. Louis.

“We weren’t world-beaters this year; we just weren’t,” Jackson said after the tournament. “But I do think we’re putting the pieces in place that we’re going to get there, and we’re truly confident in that fact.”

The chief headline from the season was senior Andrew Sorenson’s misfortune at nationals, where he fell just one match shy of attaining All-America status.

“It’s disappointing when you’ve got a kid that you feel has done everything right and you just can’t explain it,” Jackson said of Sorenson’s loss. “There’s really nothing I could say to make him feel better.”

Sorenson severely sprained his ankle in his second-round victory in the tournament, which affected his ability to fire off attacks and defend from the bottom position on the mat in his two losses following it.

“I won matches this year because I pushed the pace, I took a lot of shots, and I had a lot of scoring opportunities,” Sorenson said. “And that’s just not the way I wrestled [at the tournament].”

Sorenson was 26-2 coming into the tournament and was 3-3 against three of the eight placewinners at 165 pounds this season.

Of the five wrestlers that Iowa State brought to St. Louis, four of them — Ryak Finch (125), Luke Goettl (141), Boaz Beard (184) and Matt Gibson (Hwt) — will be returning next season as anchors of the team.

“We had zero returning NCAA qualifiers from the year before, next year we’ll have four returning NCAA qualifiers; so that’s four more than we had coming in,” Sorenson said. “Those four guys that you saw at nationals will be leading the team next year and hopefully they do better.”

Also returning will be 197-pounder Kyven Gadson, one of the more highly touted recruits to come to Iowa State from Jackson’s 2010 recruiting class, which saw just Finch and Goettl qualify for nationals this year.

Gadson was sidelined for the season after re-injuring his shoulder on Nov. 27 in a dual loss to Oklahoma.

After the news broke of Gadson’s benching, Jackson said paperwork was been filed to possibly give him a medical redshirt to retain his four years of eligibility.

Jackson said Gadson could receive an extra year since his shoulder problems have been documented dating back to high school.

“We’re hoping that he can be our guy, or one of our guys,” Jackson said of Gadson. “There are a couple guys in that weight class that we’re looking at, but obviously we’re trying to put pieces to the puzzle in case that’s not the case as well.

“We haven’t had him yet, so we’re also looking at our future with him and we don’t want to think about him not being in the lineup.”

However, no official announcement has been made about Gadson’s status as of now.

Also coming into the program next season will be Jackson’s 2012 recruiting class, which features Destin McCauley — the No. 1 recruit of 2011 before decommitting from Wisconsin to train for a year — and John Meeks — the sixth undefeated wrestler in Iowa high school history — among others.

In November, Jackson said McCauley would make an immediate impact upon joining the team.

As for now, the ice packs have been passed around, and the offseason has officially started. Next season, however, is not too far away.

“I’m hoping that all four guys that return, live and learn from this experience,” Jackson said. “This is an opportunity that is very tough to not take advantage of. So they have one to two to three years among the four of them to have an opportunity to do it again.

“We expect them all to have lived and learned and recognize that everything that we’re training them to do, they’ll see out here and that they’re capable of doing [those things]. It’s just a matter of recognizing situations and capitalizing once they recognize it.”