Talented and deep Cyclone squad ready for season-opener against Wartburg

Kevin Dresser and his coaching staff look on during the duel against Oklahoma State on Jan. 26 at Hilton Coliseum.

Sam Stuve

After an unprecedented offseason, the Iowa State wrestling team begins its 2020-21 season with a duel against the Wartburg Knights (NCAA Division III) at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

Sunday’s dual is the first for both teams this season.

It will not be a traditional first dual on Sunday, Iowa State Head Coach Kevin Dresser said during media day on Wednesday, that each team’s starters will face each other, followed by backups facing each other.

According to Dresser, the plan to face Wartburg has been in place for a while.

“I reached out to coach [Eric] Keller before all this craziness started (the COVID-19 pandemic), I thought it would be a good idea to get a team (to wrestle against) like Wartburg, who has such a great following and who has had great success over the years,” Dresser said. “I thought just starting out, instead of bringing in a school from the east coast or a smaller mid-major D-I school, I thought it’d be nice [to face Wartburg] and generate interest in the state of Iowa.”

Dresser said he reached out to Grand View to try to schedule a dual, but it didn’t work out.

Iowa State’s starting lineup for Sunday is loaded with talent and experience.

The Cyclones, who ranked eighth in NCAA Division One by InterMat Wrestling, had wrestles offs on Dec. 23 to determine it’s starting lineup for Sunday’s dual.

Barring any injuries or illness, Iowa State’s Team A lineup will look like this:

125: Redshirt Senior Alex Mackall (2020 Big 12 Runner Up, ranked 11th in NCAA by InterMat)

133: Freshman Zach Redding

141: Redshirt Senior Ian Parker (2020 Big 12 Champion, ranked fifth in NCAA by InterMat)

149: Redshirt Senior Jarrett Degen (Third Place in 2020 Big 12 Championship, 2019 NCAA qualifier, ranked fifth in NCAA by InterMat)

157: Redshirt Junior David Carr (2020 Big 12 Champion, First Team All-American, ranked third in NCAA by InterMat)

165: Redshirt Sophomore Isaac Judge

174: Redshirt Freshman Julien Broderson

184: Redshirt Sophomore Tate Battani

197: Freshman Yonder Bastida (2019 Junior Freestyle Bronze Medalist)

Heavyweight: Redshirt Senior Gannon Gremmel (2020 Big 12 Runner Up, Third Place at U23 Nationals)

Dresser said there will be more wrestle-offs as the season progresses (some for starting spots later on and some for backup spots), including six on Thursday.

For now though, that is what Iowa State’s starting lineup looks like.

There are a few wrestlers not in the varsity lineup for Iowa State that have previously shined.

This includes NCAA qualifiers, redshirt senior Todd Small (141), redshirt senior Sam Colbray (174) and redshirt junior Marcus Coleman (194).

The Cyclones also have redshirt freshman Ramazan Attasauov (133), who won a U23 Men’s freestyle title, as well as, redshirt sophomore Joel Shapiro (184/197) who won a UWW Junior Men’s freestyle title.

All five should be expected to contend for starting spots and potentially win them.

Shapiro was winning in his wrestle-off for the starting spot at the 184-pound weight class when he suffered an injury to his left leg/knee. It is unknown when he could return to the lineup.

Iowa State’s lineup features a lot of talent, which the team is excited about, but Dresser is also excited about the team’s depth.

Dresser said this season’s team has improved depth and balance in comparison to last season’s team.

“I think we’ve continued to progress, I think the old guys can attest to the fact that this room is getting very tough and that freshman class that came in is very good,” Dresser said. “It’s a very competitive room and ultimately that’s what’s going to make us great again at Iowa State, a very competitive room always competing for that [starting] spot.”

Gremmel talked highly of the newcomers on the team.

“It’s pretty awesome to see these young guys come in and win right away,” Gremmel said. “We got freshmen, we got a guy from Cuba (Bastida), who I just wrestled the other day, who just literally tried to kill me for 20-25 minutes.”

Gremmel says he’s seeing young guys come in and believing they can win a spot.

Parker said the potential of this team is really high.

“I think Dresser was mentioning that this room is the best he’s seen here in the practice room with everyone giving 100 percent effort,” Parker said. “I’ve been here as long as our new coaching staff has and I can say the same for me, taking a break and watching everyone else wrestle, I’ve never seen that many guys wrestling at such a high level.

On Sunday, the Cyclones face a Knight program that has plenty of talent and experience winning.

Last season, Wartburg finished 16-1, finished third in the NCAA III Lower Midwest Regionals and qualified five wrestlers for the NCAA III Nationals.

“We’re not overlooking them and we’re not holding back,” Degen said.

Wartburg has dominated the Division III ranks in the last decade, winning the last seven of ten teams titles. Wartburg returns three of its five wrestlers that qualified for the NCAA III Nationals.

Gremmel says he’s been focusing on cardio, hand-fighting and finding a go-to attack.

On Sunday, Iowa State and Wartburg wrestle each other for the first time in 24 years on Sunday.

The dual between Iowa State and Wartburg begins at 1 p.m. on Sunday in Hilton Coliseum and is being live-streamed on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.