Holker finding his stride, success at ISU

Zac Reicks

Iowa State’s Aaron Holker has been named Big 12 wrestler of the week after his stellar performance at the National Duals in Columbus, Ohio.

Ranked ninth nationally at 141 pounds, Holker compiled a 6-0 record for the tournament, highlighted by a 9-5 victory over top-ranked Eric Larkin of Arizona State and a 7-0 win against No. 16 Clark Forward of Michigan over the weekend.

“I felt that I finally got it going for the first time this weekend,” Holker said. “I’ve never wrestled to my potential before this tournament, but I thought everything really came together.”

Holker compiled a 43-15 record at Brigham Young University before transferring to Iowa State.

With Cole, Cody and Cael Sanderson being from Utah and all finding success on the wrestling mats in Ames, Holker had an easy decision in deciding where to continue his wrestling career.

“Cael and his brothers are the reason I came here,” Holker said. “If it wasn’t for them, I never would have thought of coming to Iowa State.”

Combine the Sanderson hospitality and a visit by ISU head coach Bobby Douglas to Holker’s house in Utah, and there was no way the Cyclone junior would be staying home.

A native of Orem, Utah, Holker improved his record to 20-5 this season and is finally hitting his stride.

“Everyone that went out on the mat had some great performances,” Douglas said of last weekend’s meet. “But Aaron Holker had some great, great, great performances.”

Teamwise, the Cyclones finished at fourth place overall after being defeated by fifth-ranked Iowa 21-15 in the third place consolation match. The No. 6 team going into the tournament, Iowa State defeated No. 2 Oklahoma State (25-20), No. 4 Michigan (22-19), No. 11 Arizona State (29-14), and Central Michigan (24-17).

Other than Iowa, Oklahoma was the only team to put a notch in Iowa State’s loss column as the No. 3 Cowboys shot down the Cyclones 21-15.

Cael Sanderson came away with the tournament’s outstanding wrestler award after running his career record to 144-0.

Sanderson, Holker, and Joe Heskett all finished the tournament 6-0.

Douglas was very pleased with how the team wrestled though, and he said they are headed in the right direction come nationals.

“I haven’t had a team perform at that level in a long, long time,” he said. “Our conditioning and inexperience showed in a few areas, and we will continue to work on that.”

The Cyclone mentor was also able to defeat one of his former pupils as Iowa State demolished former Cyclone assistant Thom Ortiz’s Arizona State Sun Devils 29-14.

In a classic match of teacher vs. student, Douglas made sure to show Ortiz that he has a long way to go if he wants to be at Iowa State’s level.

“We kind of took Ortiz to school a little bit,” Douglas said. “We showed a little thunder and a little lightning, and overall I was very pleased.”

The No. 4 Cyclones will be back in action at 7 p.m. Friday, hosting North Carolina State at in Hilton Coliseum.