Big 12 Champion Reader sets focus on national title win


Jon Reader raises his hand after defeating an Oklahoma State opponent during the Big 12 tournament March 5 at Hilton Coliseum.

Darrin Cline

Two-time NCAA All-American, Midlands Champion, undefeated senior regular season and 119 career wins.

Jon Reader has accomplished almost everything possible in his career at Iowa State. In four years of competition, he has established himself as one of the all-time greats in ISU history.

“It’s the first time I’ve won a Big 12 title and it was just taking it one match at a time and living in the present,” Reader said, who took time to soak up the atmosphere following the win in front of his home crowd.

Until last weekend, Reader’s trophy case had been missing one large honor: a Big 12 Championship. In three previous seasons as a varsity wrestler, Reader managed two third-place finishes and was a runner up last season.

“We’re really excited,” said coach Kevin Jackson. “He deserves it. It’s been a long time coming.”

As fans and foes alike have witnessed, the 2010-11 season belongs to Jon Reader. His opponent Sunday, Mike Benefiel of Oklahoma State, was already a notch in Reader’s undefeated belt earlier this season. Benefiel fell in their dual match 11-2, and Saturday he became number 34 in Reader’s win streak after a 14-3 major decision.

After the weekend performance, Reader now sits 15th all-time in the ISU win category. His victory also marks the remarkable 204th time a Cyclone has stood at the top of the conference podium.

While still basking in the euphoria of this conference crown, Reader is focused on climbing the final mountain. With a Big 12 championship crossed off the checklist, all eyes will be on the national title.

Reader took fourth in 2008 and seventh in 2009. Last season, he faced a rough road and narrowly missed All-American status. His unquestioned determination and one-match-at-a-time philosophy have made the difference from last year to this year.

“It’s night and day from this year to last year,” Reader said. “This is the best I’ve felt in college and I’m just trying to springboard into the national tournament and not overlook anybody.”

Reader knows what’s at stake at the end of the season and has even developed a motto for what he has to do.

“Each guy has to do their job when you get to this point in the season, it’s when you have to release the lion,” Reader said.