WRESTLING: Cyclones head to Oklahoma for Big 12 Championships

University of Missouri’s Mark Allis wrestles against Iowa State’s David Zabriskie on Feb. 14. Iowa State opens Big 12 Tournament play this weekend. File photo: Logan Gaedke/Iowa State Daily

Logan Gaedke

University of Missouri’s Mark Allis wrestles against Iowa State’s David Zabriskie on Feb. 14. Iowa State opens Big 12 Tournament play this weekend. File photo: Logan Gaedke/Iowa State Daily

Jake Calhoun —

After a week of rest following its season finale 34-7 dual meet victory over Nebraska, Iowa State (13-2, 4-0 Big 12) will be returning to the mats this Saturday at the Big 12 Championships in Norman, Okla.

Unlike most collegiate sports, the Big 12 only houses five schools with wrestling programs — Iowa State, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State. The Cyclones will be squaring off against their all-too-familiar opponents as they seek their fourth-straight Big 12 title.

No. 17 Missouri Tigers (7-7, 1-3)

The Tigers haven’t seen action since their season-ending 28-10 dual loss to the Cyclones on Feb. 14 in Ames.

Senior heavyweight Mark Ellis, the reigning national champion, has had his fair share of struggles this season, going 18-8 overall and 7-2 in dual action. ISU senior David Zabriskie has gotten the best of Ellis, with an all-time record of 6-0 against him. Zabriskie’s most recent victory came in the dual meet on Feb. 14, where the Cyclone senior recorded a 3-2 decision to get the victory. Last year, Zabriskie beat Ellis by a decision of 3-1 to win his second Big 12 conference title, earning him a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

Senior Nicholas Marable leads the Tigers, posting a team-best 31-3 overall record and is eighth all-time in career wins with 110 total victories. Marable had suffered his first loss to ISU’s Jon Reader this season, losing a 3-2 decision in the 165-pound match of the dual meet. Previous to their encounter this year, Marable had a 3-0 edge over the ISU All-American junior.

Another notable All-American for the Tigers is senior Maxwell Askren (184), who placed fifth at last year’s NCAA tournament before moving down a weight class his senior year.

Nebraska Cornhuskers (9-11, 0-4)

Nebraska has had the most disappointing season of any of the teams in the Big 12, losing their reigning national champion at 157 pounds in Jordan Burroughs to a season-ending injury in December, and dropping all four dual meets against conference foes. The Huskers have gone through two different losing streaks, accounting for eight of their 11 total losses.

Senior Craig Brester tops the mangled lineup for the Huskers, carrying a perfect 25-0 record into the season-ending dual meet against Iowa State, where Brester lost to Iowa State’s Jake Varner by a sudden victory decision of 6-4 to suffer his first loss of the season. Brester is 1-4 all-time against Varner, with his only victory coming in last year’s Big 12 Championships where he beat the would-be national champion by a 4-3 decision to earn the No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament at 197 pounds.

Senior Stephen Dwyer is the Huskers’ other standout wrestler, carrying a 22-3 record into Norman, Okla. Dwyer recorded an 11-2 major decision over ISU’s Duke Burk in the season-ending dual meet, the only loss suffered by an ISU senior on the Cyclones’ senior night. Dwyer is the only Husker to hold a perfect record in Big 12 dual meets (4-0).

Last year, the Huskers earned a share of the Big 12 title, tying Iowa State with 70 team points.

No. 9 Oklahoma Sooners (16-3-1, 2-2-1)

Running in the middle of the pack of the Big 12, the Sooners have the element of surprise to their advantage as they will be wrestling in front of their home crowd in Norman, Okla.

The Sooners have had a grueling season, participating in two tournaments, two dual tournaments, and wrestling in five dual meets in the short month of February alone. Their only loses came to Lehigh University at the Virginia Duals, Iowa State on Jan. 22, and intrastate rival Oklahoma State on Feb. 21.

Senior Kyle Terry has been the Sooners’ driving force throughout the season, posting a record of 24-2 with a perfect 16-0 dual record. He is the only Sooner who is perfect in Big 12 dual matches (5-0). Terry, who is ranked third in the nation at 149 pounds, defeated Iowa State’s Mitch Mueller earlier this season by a decision of 4-0, improving his all-time record against the Cyclone senior to 3-0.

Junior 197-pounder Eric Lapotsky is coming off an impressive victory from the Sooners’ season finale dual meet over Oklahoma State’s Alan Gelogaev, pinning his Cowboy foe with a fall time of 4:35. However, Iowa State’s Jake Varner has gotten the best of Lapotsky in their two meetings, defeating him by a major decision of 16-5 in last season’s dual meet against the Sooners and by a decision of 9-3 in this season’s 21-12 victory in Norman, Okla.

No. 3 Oklahoma State Cowboys (15-2-1, 3-1-1)

ISU coach Kevin Jackson said Oklahoma State would be the greatest obstacle for his Cyclones, considering the third-ranked Cowboys had them up against the fence until Jake Varner’s pin over Alan Gelogaev sealed the deal for the Cyclones to win, 20-18, back on Jan. 24 in Stillwater, Okla.

“Their guys wrestle better in a tournament situation than in a dual meet, and they’re all very good wrestlers,” Jackson said. “They have the most potential to give us the strongest challenge at the Big 12’s.”

Nine of their starting 10 wrestlers are ranked in the top 20, eight of whom reside in the top 10 of their respective weight class.

Sophomore Andrew Sorensen, who was not ranked at the time of the dual meet, pulled off a surprise victory by taking down OSU’s Neil Erisman in the last second of the 157-pound match to put three points on the board for the Cyclones with the 8-7 decision. Erisman, who was ranked 13th at the time, is now ranked 11th and is the Cowboys’ only ranked wrestler who is not in the top 10 nationally.

Senior heavyweight Jared Rosholt leads the Cowboys with a record of 29-1, earning him the No. 1 ranking in the nation midway through the season. However, that won’t stop Zabriskie from trying to win his third Big 12 conference title. Zabriskie, who lost to Rosholt by a decision of 8-5 earlier this season, is 5-3 all-time against his Cowboy foe.