Cyclones face Huskers for final time as Big 12 foes


Junior Jerome Ward takes down Northern Iowa’s Andy O’Loughlin on Friday, Feb. 4 in Hilton Coliseum. Ward won with a score of 12-3, and the Cyclones beat the Panthers with a score of 21-20.

Darrin Cline

Since the legendary Harold Nichols took over the ISU wrestling program in 1954, the Cyclones have finished with a losing dual match record only twice, with the last occurrence in 2003.

If the 2010-2011 squad hopes to finish above .500, it will need to defeat the Nebraska Cornhuskers, in Lincoln, Neb. The No. 11 Cyclones (9-9, 0-3 Big 12) saw their three-match win streak snapped at Missouri last weekend, 23-11.

The No. 14 Cornhuskers (13-5, 1-2) have also won three of their last four, including a one-point victory over the aforementioned Missouri Tigers.

“Missouri was a tough loss for us because it was a very winnable dual,” said Cyclone 197-pounder Jerome Ward. “We are over that loss and now are regrouping and refocusing.”

Husker headman Mark Manning has turned the program into one of the nation’s best, complete with winning seasons every year since 2002-2003.

Despite Manning’s success, Iowa State still holds a decided advantage in the all time series, leading 76-13-2. Nebraska last tasted victory in the rivalry in 2006, edging Iowa State 22-21.

No. 1 ranked Jordan Burroughs has been the star for the Nebraska squad during the past half decade, and the Cyclones will put their own blossoming star against the nation’s top 165-pounder.

“I’m going to wrestle him for seven minutes and give him the hardest match he’s had all year,” said Cyclone Andrew Sorenson.

Sorenson will have the challenge of dethroning the fifth-year senior, Burroughs, who received another year of eligibility after tearing his PCL and LCL. He has already claimed a national title and could be Sorenson’s biggest roadblock on his own path to a championship.

“Rankings, message boards, none of that matters what anyone else thinks,” Sorenson said. “In my mind I’m the best guy at this weight class and I’m competing like I’m the best guy every time I go out there.”

Nebraska provides intriguing match ups for the Cyclones from top to bottom. Josh Ihnen, ranked No. 10 at 184 pounds, has a personal score to settle, as he was upset by Iowa State’s Kyven Gadson at the Cyclone Open earlier in the season.

Though Ihnen will not face Gadson, he will still be seeking redemption against the Cyclones. Andy Johnson and Tucker Lane, 197 pounds and heavyweight, round out the powerful top end of the lineup.

For Iowa State, Ward continues to improve. Ward has been consistently evolving throughout the season and has an opportunity to take another step in the right direction against No. 13 Johnson.

Lane’s competitor is more uncertain. An injury to Cyclone Kyle Simonson opened the door for Kyle Slifka. Slifka fell to Missouri’s Dom Bradley last Sunday, 4-0, in his first varsity competition of the year. 

“The biggest thing is to just stay positive. We focus on the positives, not the negatives,” Ward said, as he believes the dual record will not deter the highly motivated young squad.

Not only will the dual determine whether the team joins Iowa State’s winning tradition or become part of select infamy. It is also the final audition before the post-season and begins the path to the national tournament.