Holker comes out of shadow

Zac Reicks

Last season was all fun and games for ISU wrestler Aaron Holker.

With seniors Cael Sanderson and Joe Heskett stealing all the headlines and media attention, the free-spirited Holker came out of nowhere to win the 141-pound NCAA championship in Albany, N.Y.

There will be no surprises this year, however. Amateur Wrestling News has the senior from Orem, Utah, ranked first in the 141-pound weight class but defending his championship will be no easy task.

“I will be a little more nervous, but I have to just go out there and perform,” Holker said.

Teammate and training partner Zach Roberson saw the potential Holker had and was one of the few people not surprised by his success last season.

“He might have surprised some people but not the people who have worked out with him,” Roberson said. “He does things no one else can. He has great hips and is good on his feet — probably the best mat wrestler I have ever seen.”

Because Holker was so successful last season, it is no wonder that head coach Bobby Douglas said that Holker would need to become a leader like his title of captain suggests.

“We need leadership out of Holker and Roberson,” Douglas said. “They are two of our captains and instrumental to our success.”

Holker, meanwhile, is not shying away from the added pressure but instead is embracing the role and will try to get the most out of himself and his team.

“We will just do our thing and hopefully lead by example,” he said. “We will have a young team and will need to teach them how to get out there and do their best in front of a big crowd.”

Losing half of last year’s squad leaves a lot of work for Holker, Roberson and sophomore Nick Passolano, Iowa State’s captains for 2002— 2003.

All three will work closely with Douglas and their young teammates to keep ISU wrestling highly regarded throughout the country.

“[Douglas] has been around for a while. We have a tradition here with tough teams and tough practices,” Holker said. “We will always have good team because of how we practice and how we train. Iowa State beats teams with better conditioning, not necessarily better talent.”

Even though Iowa State will not be entertaining thoughts of a NCAA team championship this season, Holker will not let the lack of team balance affect how he will lead the young Cyclones.

“I can tell the [newcomers] will be champions down the road, but they are young this year,” Holker said. “We are gonna surprise a lot of people.”

Holker will be tested early in the season, facing ranked wrestlers Mike Maney of Lock Haven, Dylan Long of Northern Iowa and Luke Moffitt from the University of Iowa.