Gadson, Finch headline touted freshman class


Photo: Grace Steenhagen/Iowa State Daily

Redshirt freshmen Kyven Gadson and Ryak Finch take part in wrestling media day on Nov. 1.

Jake Calhoun

After a disappointing season last year, the expectations for “restoring order” on the ISU wrestling team rely heavily on Kyven Gadson and Ryak Finch.

The two entered their first season of collegiate competition as the only ranked redshirt freshmen — Gadson is No. 11 at 197 pounds and Finch is No. 13 at 125 — of the 2010 recruiting class, the first for Kevin Jackson as coach of the Cyclones.

“We’ve got to make sure we keep everyone as tight-knit as we can,” Finch said. “Me and Kyven try to make sure that we’re pushing everyone — not just verbally, but by example — and I think that’s a big role for us both to be taking on.”

Last season, Jackson accredited both Gadson and Finch as unique wrestlers in their own right — Gadson was described as the most athletic wrestler on the team while Finch was deemed as “the future” of the 125-pound weight class.

Both were redshirted last season — as were most of the wrestlers of their class — to spend a year under Jackson’s system to develop in preparation for collegiate competition.

Finch used the year to adapt to the challenge of collegiate wrestling while Gadson was almost pulled out of his redshirt at multiple points in the season to possibly compete at 184 pounds.

“I think it might have been a little bit of a struggle,” Gadson, a 197-pounder, said of competing consistently at 184 pounds. “It would have been tough, but that’s one thing you’ve got to have in wrestling is mental toughness. I think I’d have been fine.”

Preparation for this season for Gadson hit a snag when he tore the labrum of his right shoulder at the FILA Junior Nationals in Cleveland in April, an injury that required surgery from which he is still healing.

“I think he is a special wrestler, we just have to keep him healthy,” Jackson said of Gadson. “If we can keep him healthy, he’s going to be a special Cyclone for a long time.”

While Gadson has yet to compete this season, Finch has met competition head-on, posting a 2-0 record in the Cyclones’ first two dual meets of the season — both losses to Army and Boston last Sunday.

“Ryak just needs to get the matches in and continue to get to where we see him and wrestle to his ability and to his potential,” Jackson said. “If he can do that, which I’m confident he can, I think he’s going to have an outstanding career.”

An integral part of Jackson’s coaching method involves “The Plan” — the blueprint for success on the mat ascribed by Jackson and his staff to the Cyclone wrestlers.

Jackson has expressed concern in the past for how some of his wrestlers have had a tendency to stray away from “The Plan,” but said Gadson and Finch are strict subscribers to it.

“You wrestle because you know you’re going to make sacrifices, and you’ve just got to make sacrifices if you want to be on top of that podium,” Gadson said. “It’s not really a big deal for me and most of my teammates [to follow The Plan]. It’s not a big deal to make the sacrifices.”

As for being ranked at the start of the season, Finch said they don’t really pay attention to any of that.

“[Rankings are] just people’s opinions, so that’s one thing we really don’t care about,” Finch said. “We know what we’re doing here in the room and we know our potential, so we’re just working toward that. So that’s the whole goal, rankings don’t matter.”