Bracket Breakdown: Running through Iowa State’s wrestling paths

Iowa State’s then-redshirt sophomore Alex Mackall ties up with his opponent during the dual against Missouri on Feb. 24, 2018, in Hilton Coliseum.

Trevor Holbrook

After sending one athlete to the NCAA Championships last season, the Cyclones sent all but one weight to the ‘Big Dance’ this year.

As a result, Iowa State fans have to hone in on nine brackets instead of one. Here’s what to look for.

125: Alex Mackall

Redshirt sophomore 125-pounder Alex Mackall originally received the 20 seed for Pittsburgh, but after a reshuffling of the 125-pound bracket due to an injury, Mackall jumps into the 19 seed.

Mackall will square off with 14 seed Sean Fausz to open his tournament. 

If Mackall pulls the upset over Fausz, he’ll likely see 4 seed Spencer Lee of Iowa. Lee knocked off Mackall 13-4 in a dual this season.

A loss likely pits him with 30 seed Bryce West of Northern Illinois, where he’d be a favorite.

133: Austin Gomez

The 133-pound bracket is an absolute doozy. It’s stacked from top to bottom, but redshirt freshman Austin Gomez — the 13 seed — starts his tournament with a lower seed.

Lehigh’s Brandon Paetzell — to 20 seed — hasn’t faced Gomez, but the two share a handful of common opponents. 

They both wrestled Iowa’s Austin DeSanto and Penn State’s Roman Bravo-Young (Gomez won both, Paetzell lost both). They both also wrestled Missouri’s John Erneste and Wyoming’s Montorie Bridges (Gomez lost both, Paetzell won both).

In his next match, Gomez clashes with either Pittsburgh’s Micky Phillippi (4 seed) or Fresno State’s Gary Joint (29 seed).

141: Ian Parker

Redshirt sophomore and 17 seed Ian Parker opens his tournament against Nebraska’s 16 seed Chad Red Jr. 

With a win, Parker matches up with top-seeded Yianni Diakomihalis of Cornell. If Parker loses to the Cornhusker, he’ll see one of the opponents in the pig-tail matches (the 32 or 33 seed).

149: Jarrett Degen

Redshirt sophomore Jarrett Degen possesses the second-most experience at the NCAA Championships for a Cyclone.

After last year’s run, Degen earned the 8 seed this year. The 149-pounder split with his opening opponent — 25 seed Russell Rohlfing of California State Bakersfield. Degen lost 7-5 in sudden victory and pinned Rohlfing later in the same tournament.

If Degen manages to cut his way into the Round of 16, he likely faces another lower seed with 9 seed Justin Oliver of North Carolina State.

A win there, and Degen heads into the semifinals with a full head of steam. He would need all to momentum he can get because top-seeded Anthony Ashnault of Rutgers would likely await him.

On the flip side, though, Degen tends to start slow in matches and grind out wins. An early upset could brew if Degen fails to jump out to a strong start, but as viewers saw last year, Degen thrived in the tournament setting.

157: Chase Straw

Possibly the most doubted Iowa State starter at points this season wound up winning the Big 12 Championship at 157-pounds.

Redshirt junior and 23 seed Chase Straw will likely continue to be doubted and kicks off his NCAA Tournament in a familiar position: as an underdog. 

Straw pairs up with Minnesota’s Steve Bleise — the 10 seed. Bleise wrestled at 149-pounds last season and bumped into Degen at the NCAA Championships in Cleveland.

Degen and Bleise were neck-and-neck before Degen earned a 9-7 win in sudden victory.

For however long Straw stays unscathed in Pittsburgh, he’ll likely be an underdog. If he fails to knock off Bleise, Straw sits in a good position to snag a win in the consolation bracket, barring any upsets.

174: Marcus Coleman

Redshirt freshman Marcus Coleman found a lot of highs and lows this season with more lows late in the year. Coleman still managed to grab an automatic qualifier bid at the Big 12 Tournament.

Coleman faces Duke’s Matthew Finesilver — the 12 seed. This is a rematch from the Southern Scuffle where Finesilver overmatched Coleman, winning 10-2.

With a loss, Coleman likely faces Edinboro’s Jacob Oliver and will have to fight to snag a win.

184: Sam Colbray

The 184-pound bracket stacks up an alluring matchup between 10 seed redshirt sophomore Sam Colbray and 23 seed Jackson Hemauer of Fresno State.

Hemauer gave Colbray all he could handle in their dual matchup, but Colbray squeaked by with an 8-7 win.

If Colbray edges Hemauer out again, he’ll likely square off with North Carolina State’s Nick Reenan — another taxing match for the Cyclone.

197: Willie Miklus

Iowa State’s highest seed belongs to redshirt senior Willie Miklus, who earned the 6 seed. Miklus is a heavy favorite in his first match against 27 seed Joshua Roetman of Navy.

With a win, Miklus will face the 11 or 22 seed, setting up for a potential rematch with 3 seed Preston Weigel in the quarterfinals.

285: Gannon Gremmel

Redshirt sophomore and 25 seed Gannon Gremmel has to battle to pick up a win in Pittsburgh. He has a tough match with Pittsburgh’s 8 seed Demetrius Thomas to open his first NCAA Championship trip.

Regardless of the outcome of his first match, Gremmel will still be an underdog in his second match, whether it’s on the front side or the back side of the bracket.