Missed opportunities yield new motivations


Photo: Rob Johnson/The Daily Iowan

Iowa State’s Nate Carr Jr. goes to take down Iowa’s Jeret Chiri during the 149 match during Friday’s meet at Iowa. Chiri won over Carr 14-7.

Darrin Cline

The angst and frustration flowed from every pore in Kevin Jackson’s body. Jackson’s displeasure with his team’s effort and execution manifested itself throughout Iowa State’s dual loss to the Iowa Hawkeyes and left all of Cyclone nation wondering “where do we go from here?”

“I truly believe it was a missed opportunity,” said Jackson, who saw six of his grapplers drop tough matches and be outworked in nearly every phase of competition.

Iowa State’s coach was not the only member of the Cyclone family disappointed with the team’s performance.

“At the end of the match, it felt like there was opportunities that I missed, and it’s not acceptable to me and it’s not acceptable the way I wrestled,” said Cyclone senior captain Jon Reader.

Reader’s attitude embodies what the Cyclone wrestling program is striving to achieve throughout the remainder of the season. Despite defeating Iowa’s Ethen Lofthouse 6-1 in a match that put Iowa State within striking distance of a win, Reader was still not satisfied with his performance.

Improving the performance of every man on the roster is part of the Cyclone game plan moving forward. A frontloaded schedule has given the team a glimpse at the positives and negatives of the roster. 

“We felt that having a group of young kids, we needed to compete a lot and get a lot of matches under our belt,” Jackson said.

Iowa State may have faltered in its most hyped dual of the season, but the road ahead does not get any easier for the No. 14 squad in the nation. Not only do the Cyclones host rival Northern Iowa, but the new year brings challenges from five of the top 15 teams in the nation, including No. 1 Cornell University.

With an amplifying schedule ahead, the cardinal-and-gold-clad grapplers will need to match that intensity in order to rebound. Tough losses by Kyle Simonson and Chris Drouin, among others, highlighted the areas of improvement the team is looking to work on.

“Those two bouts we were confident we could win, therefore winning the dual meet,” Jackson said. “So we truly feel we missed an opportunity, but all in all I’m very disappointed with a few of our guys from a competitive standpoint.”

Following the Iowa dual, the first dual loss of the season, Jackson was very tough on his team, but accepted the brunt of responsibility for his team’s performance.

“[The team’s performance] all falls on the coaching staff,” Jackson said. “So I’ll take the blame, I’ll take it.”

The Iowa meet may have brought some of the team’s weaknesses to the surface, but Jackson still sees positives for them to build off of.

“All these guys, they’re training together,” Jackson said. “You’ve got Jon Reader, you’ve got Andrew Sorenson, you’ve got Nate Carr Jr., you’ve got my heavyweights, you’ve got some other guys that stepped out there and competed, so it’s not two separate teams; it’s one team.”

Sorenson and Carr Jr. used the Iowa match as a proving ground on national television. Sorenson, arguably the most improved wrestler on the roster, pulled an upset over rival Jake Kerr, while Carr Jr. pummeled Hawkeye Jeret Chiri to pick up the major decision and proved many doubters wrong.

These two performances highlighted the goals of the Cyclones going forward, and the “one team” philosophy. A tough defeat against a longtime rival has the potential to bring any team down, especially in a situation in which the line between victory and defeat is razor thin.

An examination of the road ahead for the Cyclone wrestling team can be viewed as an impossible gauntlet or an unmatched opportunity. Jackson does not shy away from the fact that the team has a long way to go, but he also recognizes that the question of “where do you go from here?” has an upside.

“This is wrestling,” Jackson said. “You’ve got to step out there and you’ve got to compete.”