Harold Nichols Open finds new home in Hilton

Jake Calhoun

Moving on from two season-opening dual losses, the ISU wrestling team will be hosting its home tournament — the Harold Nichols Open — at Hilton Coliseum on Sunday.

The tournament, which has been held at Lied Recreation Athletic Center and Bergstrom Indoor Facility the past two seasons, is being held at Hilton this year to give the tournament a “bigger feel,” said Molly Donnelly, Director of Operations for ISU wrestling.

ISU coach Kevin Jackson said last Sunday’s two duals against Army and Boston were useful in getting the preseason jitters out of some of his younger wrestlers.

“I thought it typified your first competitions in the Iowa State singlet,” Jackson said. “You saw some nerves come out, you saw some guys wrestle a little too fast and you saw some guys get a little caught up in the moment.”

The Cyclones will have a couple wrestlers who will not compete at the tournament due to injuries. Notable injuried wrestlers include Ben Cash (133), Max Mayfield (141) and Michael Moreno (157), all of whom are out with concussions and have not passed concussion tests, Jackson said Tuesday.

“It’s funny how things work out, but things happen for a reason with other guys being hurt,” said senior Andrew Sorenson. “For them, it’s just a matter of getting back on that horse after they come back from their injuries.”

Sorenson, the team’s starting 165-pounder, sat out of last season’s competition due to an injury after winning the 157-pound title at the tournament in 2009.

Last season, Iowa State had four champions and 11 placewinners at the event including Ryak Finch and Kyven Gadson, both of whom competed unattached at 125 and 184 pounds since they were redshirting for the season.

Gadson, who has since moved up to 197 pounds, is currently out, recovering from a separated labrum in his right shoulder he sustained at the FILA Junior Nationals in April.

However, Finch, who has started the season 2-0, will be taking to the mat to repeat as the 125-pound champ, this time in an ISU singlet.

“I want to come through and definitely win it again, but hopefully put on a better performance than last year,” Finch said. “Make sure I’m putting up a lot of points, wrestling strong, making sure all my positions are strong and just keep it rolling coming into the big duals that are coming up after that.”

One wrestler who has been an early season surprise for the Cyclones has been 184-pounder Boaz Beard. The Wichita, Kan., native nabbed a major decision in both duals last Sunday in Boston.

“He went out there, he wrestled aggressively, he looked to score points,” Jackson said of Beard. “His mentality was to dominate and that’s what we expect out of all of our guys.”

This year’s competition will blend wrestlers from surrounding schools, as well as numerous Cyclone wrestlers, ranging from starters to redshirts who will be wrestling unattached.

“It’ll be interesting to see where a lot of guys are,” Sorenson said. “There’s a big difference between looking good in the room and looking good in a tournament and competition.

“So we’ll really see who’s got a tough mentality and who’s willing to lay it out on the line come tournament time because those are the guys on the team you want to compete with.”

The tournament will start at 9 a.m. and last all day.