Cyclones ship off to Philadelphia for NCAA Championships


Jonathan Reader attempts take down Oklahoma State Mike Benefiel during the Big 12 Championships on Saturday, March 5 at Hilton Coliseum.

Jake Calhoun

For Jon Reader, this is it.

An entire season of battling injuries and maintaining intensity, along with a perfect record, has served as an impeccable lead-in to Reader’s last stand: the 2011 NCAA Championships in Philadelphia.

“This is the last go-round but I’m just taking day-by-day and staying in the present and focusing on training today,” said Reader, who earned a No. 1 seed at 174 pounds. “There’s no need to exert any extra energy looking toward the NCAA tournament right now.”

While this will be Reader’s last time on college wrestling’s biggest stage, this will be the first for two other ISU wrestlers.

Cole Shafer and Kyle Simonson both earned their first bid to the national tournament after each secured the fourth and final automatic bids in their respective weight classes.

“It’s awesome,” Shafer said. “Not many guys get to go and it’s a privilege to be one of them.”

Shafer will face favored Jake Meredith of Arizona State in the first round of the 184-pound competition and would likely face third-seeded Steve Bosak of Cornell if he pulls off the upset.

Simonson drew a rematch against Iowa’s Blake Rasing — who beat him, 2-1 — in the Cyclones’ Dec. 3 dual meet against the Hawkeyes. Rasing, who won the Big Ten title at heavyweight, earned the No. 7 seed for the tournament.

“Nothing really changes,” Simonson said. “I go out to wrestle the same way every time.”

After two years competing at 184 pounds, Jerome Ward is getting a change of scenery.

The redshirt junior earned the No. 11 seed at 197 pounds and a first-round match against Ohio’s Erik Schuth, whom Ward beat by a 3-1 decision at the Hokie Open earlier this season.

“The biggest thing is probably just focusing on that first match,” Ward said. “It’s essential in any tournament. You’ve just got to get that first win to put you in a better position and you can just keep moving forward from there.”

Ward, who was an at-large bid the past two seasons at 184, lost to Boise State’s highly ranked Kirk Smith in his first match both years.

Despite failing to secure an automatic bid at the Big 12 Championships, senior Chris Drouin qualified at 141 pounds as the Cyclones’ only at-large bid.

The former All-American at Arizona State is 13-9, having missed nine-straight duals in the middle of the season due to a concussion he sustained at the national duals.