Cyclones start season at Hokie Open


File photo: Iowa State Daily

Andrew Sorenson wrestles against Iowa’s Aaron Janssen during their wrestling match on Dec. 6, 2009, at Hilton Coliseum. Iowa State lost 16-18.

Jake Calhoun

Iowa State is starting its season playing a role that is unfamiliar to the program: underdog.

The 30th-ranked Cyclones will begin their 2010-2011 wrestling season Saturday at the Hokie Open in Salem, Va. They will face No. 26 Virginia Tech and No. 14 Kent State in back-to-back dual meets Saturday, followed by an individual tournament Sunday.

“[Kent State and Virginia Tech], I don’t know how the heck they’re ranked ahead of us,” said junior Andrew Sorenson. “But that’s what coaches told us, so they’re going to be in for a surprise to say the least.”

Coach Kevin Jackson is planning to bring 16 ISU wrestlers to use in the individual portion of the competition, many of whom have never competed for Iowa State before.

“There are going to be several guys on our varsity lineup that haven’t put on an Iowa State singlet before,” Jackson said. “To have the opportunity to throw these guys out there with the opportunity to wrestle two dual matches and a tournament in a weekend is going to give us a lot of video tape and a lot of information to go on to continue to help them get better and to identify their areas of concentration and make sure that the things that we’re teaching and the things that they’re learning are connected.”

Last season, Jackson gave his wrestlers a day off either earlier or later in the week with a string of grueling practices in between. This year, he implemented a new training cycle for his wrestlers that gives them a day of rest Wednesday to even the workload and prevent any potential burnout or fatigue during the week.

“A lot of guys, I think, maybe were a little tired or worn out last year,” said redshirt freshman Trent Weatherman. “But with this new training cycle, it’s a little bit smarter instead of harder. We’re training smarter instead of harder.”

Weatherman will be wrestling in his first dual meet in an ISU singlet after earning the starting spot at 157 pounds. The Maxwell native was highly touted by Jackson as someone who has the potential beat anybody in the country. However, Weatherman isn’t letting the pressure get to him.

“You know, when you have expectations on your shoulders [from] just wrestling for a high-quality, Division I school like this, there’s obviously that pressure in the back of your mind,” Weatherman said. “I just try to stick to the plan and just go out and wrestle, and hopefully good things happen.”

An interesting battle at 184 pounds has surfaced within the team, shaking up any speculation as to who will be the starter at that weight class.

Redshirt freshmen Cole Shafer and Tyler Christensen squared off against each other in the Oct. 21 intrasquad meet at Ames High School. Christensen won by an 8-0 major decision over Shafer, who was the projected starter at the beginning of the season.

However, Jackson was quick to point out that Shafer had sustained an illness during the offseason and was not back to 100 percent during the intrasquad match.

“He was sick for a month-and-a-half and wasn’t able to do anything, and so we got him in there and he got in at least good enough shape to go a match,” Jackson said. “But I don’t know if that was the best Cole Shafer out there.”

True freshman Matt Riley has also entered the picture in the chase for the starting spot at 184 pounds.

Jackson said Christensen beat Riley in an “official challenge match” in the ISU wrestling room, which, along with his major decision win over Shafer in the intrasquad match, has put him in the hunt for the starting spot.

However, both Christensen and Riley competed at the Kaye Young Open at North Iowa Area Community College in Mason City, where Riley would go on the win the 184-pound title after defeating Michael Johnson of Lincoln College by a 5-4 decision. Christensen, who had lost to Johnson earlier in the tournament, placed third at that weight class.

“We look at a couple things: not only head-to-head against each other, but who outperforms who in competition, who can beat guys from around the country,” Jackson said. “And right now Matt Riley was that guy who did that.”

Jackson went on to state that both Riley and Christensen would be given a chance to compete in the dual meets as well as the tournament this weekend in order to gain a better understanding of who will land the starting spot at the 184-pound weight class.

The Cyclones’ first dual meet starts at 2 p.m. against Virginia Tech and is followed by their second dual meet, at 4 p.m. against Kent State. The individual tournament will begin Sunday at the Salem Civic Center in Salem, Va.