ISU wrestlers headed to National Duals

Zac Reicks

The Cyclones bring their 6th-ranked wrestling team to Columbus, Ohio, this weekend, competing in the Cliff Keen/NWCA National Dual Meet Championships.

Hosted by Ohio State University, the tournament is prominent enough to attract the top eight schools in the nation featuring last year’s NCAA and Dual Meet champion Minnesota.

In what is an intriguing first round matchup for the Cyclones, Head Coach Bobby Douglas will face former assistant coach Thom Ortiz and his Arizona State Sun Devils.

An assistant to Douglas for nine seasons at Iowa State, Ortiz has the Wildcats 4-0 on the season with 5th-ranked David Douglas at 133 pounds and top ranked Eric Larkin at 141 headlining the squad.

“Obviously, there will be some emotional highs and lows because of our relationship for so many years,” Douglas said. “Make no mistake about it, we are going out to do our best to destroy Arizona State.”

Helping to accomplish this will be seniors Cael Sanderson and Billy Maldonado.

Both recognize the importance of this meet but are careful not to put too much emphasis on it. They have other thing to focus on with the NCAA championships just two months away.

“It is important to do well, but Iowa State wrestles for the national tournament in March,” Maldonado said. “I am sure coach wants us to win the national duals but it’s just a stepping stone for the national tournament.”

Iowa State could see many familiar faces as Big 12 foes Oklahoma and Oklahoma State will be on hand along with rivals Iowa and Northern Iowa in attendance as well.

Sanderson, whose current record stands at 138-0, will seek to keep his winning streak alive against some of the best competition he could ask for.

“It’s a big test, a true look at where I am and where we are as a team,” Sanderson said. “We will approach it just like a tournament. We win and lose as a team.”

One place where Douglas has done a lot of winning is Ohio.

He won his first individual high school championship and team title in the same gym where Iowa State will wrestle Arizona State, St. John Arena.

“The state of Ohio has been good to me in my wrestling career, recruiting wise as well,” Douglas said.

Current senior and three time All-American Joe Heskett is just one of the top wrestlers Douglas has groomed from that area of the country.

With so many top teams in the nation attending, the chances of establishing themselves as a favorite for the NCAA championships is right before Iowa State’s nose.

However, one school stands alone as a school the Cyclones would really like to beat.

“We would love to wrestle Iowa again. It was a tough dual meet loss for us against them and we would like another shot,” Maldonado said. “Some of the other Big Ten teams would be fun as well, teams that we don’t see during the season.”