Iowa State wrestling discusses how it will handle COVID-19 at media day

Iowa State Head Coach Kevin Dresser claps during a match at the Big 12 Championships on March 8 inside the Bank of Oklahoma Center in Tulsa.

Sam Stuve

Since March, COVID-19 has affected the sport of wrestling.

COVID-19 caused the cancelation of the 2020 NCAA Championships and there were questions about if the 2020-21 season would even happen.

The Iowa State wrestling program is one of many NCAA Division One schools that will wrestle in 2021 and it is now tasked with completing a season in the midst of a global pandemic.

“Iowa State has done a great job of coaching our athletes up and that is obviously a tough age group to corral,” Iowa State Head Coach Kevin Dresser said during Wednesday’s media day. “18-23-year-old athletes think they’re invincible which makes them really good athletes and obviously that age group didn’t get that sick, but I think the concern was getting other people sick and I think our guys did a really good job.”

Dresser said once the team got back to campus, the team did a good job of following instructions, pointing out that the team had only one positive COVID-19 case since August and that the team needs to continue its mitigation efforts to prevent them and others from getting the virus.

On Wednesday, he and some wrestlers gave insight on how the team is navigating around COVID-19 this season.

Dresser said the team tests for COVID-19 three times a week and have adopted social distancing measures and wearing masks.

Iowa State redshirt sophomore David Carr gave credit to Associate Director of Sports Medicine Tim Weesner on Wednesday.

“We have a really good trainer, Tim Weesner, he makes sure we’re wearing masks all the time when we’re done, we’re doing all the protocol that we need to do, we’re checking temperatures and we’re also in our bubble,” Carr said.

Carr said being in a bubble has been a “blessing in disguise” and has created an opportunity for him to get closer with his teammates.

“I’m only hanging out with my teammates and it’s really awesome because I’m getting to know them better and brought us closer,” Carr said.

“This team is highly motivated and we want what it takes to win and one of those things is not getting COVID, getting COVID tested every week and being diligent with that.”

Carr talked about the importance of team members “using their own discernment,” and wearing masks in public at places such as the grocery store.

Dresser said if two guys competed in the practice room the day before and one of them tests positive, the other is then contact traced out of activities.

“It’s not maybe as far-reaching as basketball is (contact-tracing), that’s the way that I understand it but we’ve only had to deal with it once with one positive test since August,” Dresser said.

Dresser said the team has had only one positive case since August, but that some wrestlers living in the same apartment, had to sit out due to contract tracing before UWW Nationals and Junior Nationals (in November).

The Iowa State Athletic Department said on Monday that no COVID-19 cases came back positives from tests that were conducted during the week of Dec. 21-27 across all sports and staff.

The Iowa State Athletic Department also reported that it has had only 84 positive cases out of 13,058 tests between June 8 and Dec. 27.

Redshirt senior Jarrett Degen says part of that is due to student-athletes and the coaching staff being coachable.

“We can’t be going out there making stupid mistakes and being around a bunch of people and we have to be coachable, even having coach Dresser and those coaches being coachable by who’s above them,” Degen said.

Degen says they’ve been staying in small groups when they’re supposed to.

During the summer, the wrestling room was shut down, so members of the team had to find different locations to workout and train if they wanted to.

“This offseason has been like none other,” Redshirt senior Ian Parker said.

Despite this, Parkers says that discipline needed to stay constant throughout the offseason.

“The one thing that does stay constant throughout the offseason is discipline,” Parker said.

Parker says discipline is needed to stay constant because it’s something that can be controlled.

During the offseason, when workouts are only voluntary, Parker said he was leading more workouts and enjoyed that aspect of it.

Iowa State begins its season with a dual against Wartburg on Sunday at 1 p.m. in Hilton Coliseum.