Much-anticipated freshmen matches score victories

Andrew Marshall

Three highly-touted Cyclone freshmen started off their collegiate careers in style Friday night, leading No. 6 Iowa State to a 39-7 season-opening win over Division II Minnesota State-Mankato at Hilton Coliseum.

Head coach Bobby Douglas was pleased with the efforts given by the team, especially by the newcomers.

“I think our freshmen wrestled extremely well,” Douglas said.

The meet started with a surprising loss for the Cyclones when Nate Gallick, ranked No. 12 nationally at 141 pounds, dropped a 2-1 decision to Jason Rhoten. Gallick was penalized for stalling at the final buzzer, giving Rhoten the win.

Trent Paulson got the Cyclones back on track by pinning Micah Floodeen in 3:59 in the 149-pound match. Trent had three early takedowns, including a five-point move that took Floodeen to his back in the first period. Trent scored a reversal early in the second period and took Floodeen to his back again, this time holding on for the fall.

At 157 lbs., Travis Paulson notched a decisive win in his debut, using an aggressive style to score a technical fall over Minnesota State’s Paul Sheldon. Travis did most of his scoring on his feet, tallying seven takedowns in the first two periods to pull away from Sheldon.

Grant Turner, a redshirt freshman, also won his first match as a Cyclone, surviving a late scramble for a 5-3 victory over Matt Perrizo at 165 lbs. Minnesota State got its second win of the night at 174 lbs. as John Diercks scored a major decision over Cyclone sophomore Kevin Amesquita, pulling the Mavericks to within seven points.

Redshirt freshman Kurt Backes won his highly-anticipated debut for the Cyclones, earning an 18-7 major decision over Travis Krinkie. Backes, a junior national champion, used five takedowns early to build an 11-4 lead heading into the third period. Backes then used two tilts to score near-fall points and secure the major decision in the 184 lb. match.

After Iowa State’s Trevor Smith received a forfeit at 197 pounds, Richard Schopf made his first start as a Cyclone a memorable one by pinning Mike Engelmann in 4:07. Schopf, another redshirt freshman, reversed Engelmann to his back for the fall midway through the second period, giving the Cyclones a 30-7 lead.

ISU 125-pounder Grant Nakamura, one of only two returning Cyclone starters to wrestle Friday night, started his season with a technical fall over Tyler Gangestad. The returning NCAA qualifier built an 11-1 lead after two periods before ending the match with a near fall with 50 seconds left.

Zach Roberson, Iowa State’s lone returning All-American, ended the meet with a 21-8 major decision over Matt Jones. Roberson came on strong in the third period, taking Jones down five times in the final two minutes of the match. The major decision pushed the final score to 39-7.

The Cyclone wrestlers will face a tough test Friday in a triangular meet against second-ranked Lehigh and Millersville in Bethlehem, Pa. The team returns to Fort Dodge Saturday to compete in the Harold Nichols Open.