McDaniel: The 2019-20 season was successful despite media day expectations

Iowa State redshirt junior Jarrett Degen addresses the media at Iowa State’s media day Nov. 3.

Stephen Mcdaniel

We live in a completely different world now as compared to Oct. 29.

Plenty of things were talked about during Iowa State wrestling’s media day on that October faithful. Wrestlers making their return to the mat. The excitement for wrestling being at an all-time high. Iowa State being a top 10 team and being the hunted, not the hunter.

Well now we’ve gone the full distance for the 2019-20 season, obviously excluding the canceled NCAA Championships in Minneapolis and it’s time to look back and see if what Head Coach Kevin Dresser and company said was true.

As I’ve said, we live in a different world and expectations set before the season may or may not work out. There were plenty of things that didn’t end up working out.

Given the circumstances, the 2019-20 season was still a massive success for the Dresser and the Cyclones and the perfect thing to set them up for next year.

Dresser mentioned several times during media day that Iowa State was going to become a top 10 team and be the hunted, instead of the hunter.

When the season started, Iowa State was already pegged to be a top 10 team and looked to pose as a threat to some of the top teams in the Big 12 and in the country. However, when the season ended, Iowa State dropped into the 20s for dual rankings.

But I still think they were the hunted in that scenario.

Given all of the talent that the Cyclones had at their disposal at various points in the season, any loss still looked like a quality win on their opponents schedule.

They definitely weren’t a top 10 team in the nation, but that’s a mark that they will look to, and should, get next season when they have a fully healthy roster that’s composed of the best guys they can put on the floor.

Talent was a tough situation for Iowa State, not in the sense that it lacked it, but in the sense that it could never get the stars to align.

We never truly got to see what a completely healthy roster for the Cyclones looked like.

From the get-go, redshirt sophomore Austin Gomez never got to step on the mat due to weight issues and a concussion, so Dresser called upon redshirt junior Todd Small to fill the gap at 133 pounds.

Jarrett Degen missed a large chunk of the season after suffering a shoulder injury during the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational back in December and you could still see the lingering effects of it even when he returned. Degen consistently battled to just keep his shoulder in place whenever he stepped onto the mat.

Redshirt freshman David Carr banged his knee up to close the season out and his first true match back came at the Big 12 Championships.

Sam Colbray and Marcus Coleman decided to swap weight classes halfway through the season and both found themselves at a spot where they were fighting for more matches.

Despite all of this, Iowa State still walked away as a top 20 team, tied for the best record in the Big 12 and strolled back into Ames with two Big 12 title holders in Carr and Ian Parker.

To me, that sounds like a massive success, given all of the circumstances.

Even with all of this happening, fan interest in Iowa State wrestling was at an all-time high.

Before the season even started, Iowa State Athletics had announced over 2,000 season tickets were sold, which was a school record for wrestling.

Throughout the season, wrestling brought in more and more fans, which was topped with a crowd attendance record of over 11,000 during the November dual against instate rival University of Iowa. The mix of Iowa State and Iowa fans marked largest crowd in 20 years for the Cyclones.

Dresser commented on the fan support and the atmosphere plenty of times, notably after the Cyclones’ comeback win over the University of Northern Iowa towards the tail end of the season.

Was what Dresser and company said during media day applicable to how the season went? Not exactly.

But with the interest level in wrestling rising and considering how the Cyclones closed the season out after dealing with multiple issues, I think that this was the best case scenario for them heading into a highly-anticipated 2020-21 wrestling season.