One thing left to do

Jeff Stell

ISU seniors Cael Sanderson and Joe Heskett have already guaranteed a lasting legacy in the Cyclone wrestling program but the dynamic duo have failed to get the better of intrastate rival Iowa.

That could change Sunday when the No. 5 Hawkeyes square off with the No. 6 Cyclones in Hilton Coliseum.

Heskett, a three-time All-American, and three-time national champion Sanderson have never lost to a Hawkeye individually but are 0-5 in dual meetings with Iowa.

“Cael and I, especially, have been waiting to beat these guys,” Heskett said. “It’s been one of our goals coming here was to beat them. Sunday is a great possibility and opportunity for us.”

The Hawkeyes have proven to be the Cyclones’ nemesis, winning 27 straight duals in the series. The Hawkeyes also denied Sanderson and Heskett a team title, winning the 1999 NCAA title over the Cyclones by 6.5 points.

“It’d be awesome to beat [Iowa] but on the other hand, it’s not going to make or break our season,” Sanderson said. “It’s huge for the fans and everybody and yeah, we’d definitely like to beat them.”

Both teams have several new faces in the lineup, as they were hit hard by graduation losses.

That accounts for the rare occurrence of both teams being ranked out of the top four and not being considered a serious favorite for the national title.

“Rankings don’t matter because any time you bring two rivals together, you never know what is going to happen,” ISU head coach Bobby Douglas said. “Eventually our time will come to beat Iowa and hopefully our time will be Sunday.”

The Cyclones lost four national qualifiers but the Hawkeyes have much bigger holes to fill.

Iowa lost three national champs in Eric Juergens, Doug Schwab and T.J. Williams, who combined to total a 94-2 record last season.

Sunday will mark the first competition in this heated rivalry for five Cyclones and four Hawkeyes.

The Cyclone rookies will need to be brought up to speed in practice this week on the Hawkeyes constant attack style that can score points in a hurry.

“Coach [Douglas] does a lot of preparation during the week on what type of style to expect, but for the most part we’re going to motivate our guys to wrestle their own style,” Heskett said. “A lot of our guys have a real hard style to wrestle against so we’re going to make Iowa come after us and fall into our strengths.

“We have five new guys who haven’t really experienced this yet and we’re not going to know until Sunday about how they’re going to handle it. They know what a rival and a nemesis Iowa is so they know the situation.”

In this matchup the last two years, there has been two or three weights that were critical for both sides to win. This year appears no different as both teams have certain weight classes where they’re heavily counting on victories.

With Heskett and Sanderson boasting almost certain bonus-point victories at 165 and 197, the Cyclones could be better off if the dual starts in the upper weights.

“It depends on what weight class gets drawn first,” Douglas said. “It’s almost like a chess match with the momentum and who gets off to a better start. If we draw 165, and get two pins at 165 and 197, then Iowa is in trouble.”

Douglas has yet to beat Iowa in 16 meetings in his 10 years at the helm of the Cyclone program.

Sanderson would like to leave the program knowing he helped Douglas and the Cyclone program turn the tables on the Hawkeyes, but feels Douglas will be the same coach, win or lose.

“Coach will be the same person whether we win or lose,” Sanderson said. “He’s still going to be upset when he comes to practice on Monday.”