Takeaways: All eyes rest on next wrestling season

Iowa State’s David Carr celebrates winning the 157-pound championship match over Oklahoma State’s Wyatt Sheets 6-4 on March 8 at the Big 12 Championships inside the Bank of Oklahoma Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Stephen Mcdaniel

Another season has come and gone for Iowa State wrestling, only this time things didn’t end with the NCAA Championships, things ended with the Big 12 Championships.

The Cyclones ended their 2019-20 campaign with a 10-5 dual record and tied Oklahoma State for the best Big 12 dual record at 7-1 overall. Iowa State finished the season ranked No. 20 in InterMat Wrestling’s dual rankings and No. 11 in InterMat’s tournament rankings.

Iowa State’s brand new Carr

Coming into the season, all eyes were on redshirt freshman David Carr, who came off a summer where he became a Junior World Champion at 74 kilograms. The Perry, Ohio, native was another legacy-kid addition to Iowa State’s lineup with David’s dad being Iowa State and Wrestling Hall of Famer Nate Carr.

Considering the summer David Carr was coming off of and how successful Nate Carr’s career was, all eyes were set on David to see if the Carr hype lived up.

David Carr solidified himself as one of the best wrestlers, not only on Head Coach Kevin Dresser’s squad, but in the country.

Carr found himself ranked as the No. 3 guy in the country at 157 pounds and his only loss during his 18-1 season came at the hands of No. 1 ranked Ryan Deakin of Northwestern, who got the best of Carr at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational.

Outside of that, Carr went undefeated in every dual meet he participated in. He gained even more attention when he pulled out an upset victory over Iowa’s Kaleb Young during the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series matchup in Hilton Coliseum in late November.

The highlight of Carr’s season came at the very end, where as the No. 1 seed, Carr went a perfect 3-0 to capture the Big 12 title at 157 in Iowa State’s second-place finish at the Big 12 Championships in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

While Carr wasn’t able to get a shot at an NCAA title during his redshirt freshman year, the Big 12 title capped off Carr’s successful first year in the lineup for the Cyclones.

Injury time

One thing that plagued Iowa State from the Harold Nichols Cyclone Open in the very beginning of the season to the Big 12 Championships were injuries.

The Cyclones suffered some key injuries that led their season to go in a slightly different direction than what was initially thought prior to the season starting.

The big injury that affected the Cyclones was losing redshirt sophomore Austin Gomez to a concussion that resulted in a medical redshirt. Gomez came into the season standing at No. 5 in the preseason rankings at 133.

Due to this, Iowa State called upon redshirt junior Todd Small, who held his own at 133, highlighted by a fourth place finish at Cliff Keen. Small was also affected by the injury bug, injuring his knee in Iowa State’s last dual of the season against North Dakota State, just weeks before the Big 12 Championships.

The other big injury that impacted Iowa State was redshirt junior Jarrett Degen, who suffered a shoulder injury during his run at Cliff Keen. Degen finished the first day as one of three semifinalists for the Cyclones, alongside Alex Mackall and Carr.

However, Degen went on to finish in sixth place after having to medically forfeit all of his remaining matches on the second day.

Iowa State had to go through the most chaotic stretch of its season without one of its top 10 guys. Degen wouldn’t make his return until nearly two months later and even then, he wrestled with a shoulder brace and ran into issues with his shoulder popping out mid-dual.

The Cyclones also had to go through the last stretch of their season without Carr, who also suffered a minor knee injury during the dual against Oklahoma State near the end of January.

Carr missed out on the rest of the duals and his first time truly competing, since the injury was during his Big 12 157 title run. He had wrestled during the Last Chance Open and recorded a 52-second pin before defaulting out.

Even during the Big 12 Championships, injuries just couldn’t escape the Cyclones as redshirt junior Sam Colbray got injured during the third place match at 174 against Oklahoma State’s Joe Smith.

Weight dilemma

Iowa State only loses one member of its starting lineup with redshirt senior Chase Straw graduating and leaving an opening at 165.

Dresser will have to make a decision about what to do with the opening in the lineup and how to manage the talent around him.

Gomez should be making his return next season, but Small has proven to be a liable option at 133, considering he cracked the top 15 and was a NJCAA champion at 133.

There will be quite a mix up with the middle weights in determining what to do.

Both Gomez and Degen are comfortable at their respective weights, but there may need to be some weight shifts if Iowa State wants to continue to put out its best lineup.

The biggest question is what to do with Gomez, Small and Ian Parker, who have all proven to be great options at their respective weight classes. If the Cyclones want to push Carr and Degen up a weight class, one could have to potentially make the jump to 149.

Outside of that, the Cyclones have even more talent waiting to get a crack at the lineup in guys like future redshirt freshmen Aden Reeves (125) and Julien Broderson (184).

Having plenty of good talent is a good issue to have, but decisions will need to be made if Dresser wants to put out the best lineup possible for the 2020-21 season.