Martin: While everyone might be better next year, Iowa State wrestling will be

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

Zach Martin

Pause for a brief moment. Close your eyes and gaze into the future. What do you see?

The 2020-21 NCAA Division I wrestling season, where there is a legitimate possibility everyone will be at full strength. Olympic redshirts back on their NCAA team, redshirt freshman vying for starting spots in the lineup and graduated seniors potentially back on the mat for a sixth year due to the cancellation of the NCAA Championships due to COVID-19.

Keep those eyes closed. In the Harold Nichols wrestling room, what do you see? Something you have not seen before.

It’s a not a stretch. It’s not hyperbole. It’s a fact.

Iowa State is going to field its best wrestling team in not only the Kevin Dresser era, but quite possibly program history next season.

Only Chase Straw is departing. I doubt he comes back even with a chance for another year of eligibility. In talking to him prior to senior day, he seemed pretty content to close this chapter of his life.

So, you only lose your starting 165-pounder. You bring back nine starters, you add Austin Gomez back into the fold with a talented 2019 recruiting class that will vie for starting spots.

You return two Big 12 champions, eight place-winners and a coaching staff that might be one of the close-knitted staffs in the conference.

That’s a recipe for success and the Cyclones might be cooking up something magical next season.

If Dresser was expecting top-10 this season, those expectations must be raised. If completely healthy, Iowa State can win a trophy at the NCAAs.

There’s ample reason to believe the lineup, in terms of weight, will change.

Carr looks like a 165 guy. His frame can be that, sure he might have to bulk up, but he’s a sponge when it comes to ideas and changes. He’ll do what’s in the best interest of the team.

That move only happens if Jarrett Degen can put on just a few pounds and bump up to 157. He’s tall enough, but can he put on the weight? That’s the biggest question. 

Which leaves an opening at 149. You can’t sit one of Gomez, Ian Parker and Todd Small in this scenario. You have to start all three to field your best lineup.

Gomez was not shy about admitting he put on a lot of weight last summer and had a difficult time descending. Can he bulk up two weight classes and wrestle at 149?

That would allow Todd Small another full year at 133 and Ian Parker continuing to show he’s one of the best at 141. Alex Mackall would occupy 125 once again before freshman Aden Reeves is prepared.

Then there’s the upper weights, where changes might happen in both ways.

Sam Colbray seems to have found a home at 174. He wrestled really well and a full year at that weight might do him wonders. Gannon Gremmel will maintain his spot at heavyweight until incoming freshman Cody Fisher is ready.

That leaves 184 and 197 as the only two weights where it may look different.

Marcus Coleman failed to record a signature win in his move up. It’s between the ears for him, an aspect he mentioned publicly after finishing fifth at Big 12s, that sometimes can be a struggle.

Joel Shapiro had a difficult time growing into a really, really tough weight class. He was thoroughly dominated by the top-tier of 197.

In comes Julien Broderson, the most talented recruit from Iowa State’s 2019 class, to throw a wrench in the plans. He could go to either 184 or 197, but he said during media day that he’s felt the best he’s ever had at 184.

Still, he wrestled 195 in high school and has the frame to be at the second heaviest weight in D-I. It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest to see Coleman or Shapiro on the bench with one of them in the lineup and Broderson as well.

In layman’s terms, the Cyclones have the potential to be really, really good and have a lot of firepower.

Health will have to play a key factor in all of this, obviously. However, if you go up and down a potential lineup, what weaknesses do you see? 

Little to none.

That health aspect is an area that will greatly help Iowa State and vault them into a top-five team.

Carr gets to finally take a breather on the mat and get that knee fully healthy; Colbray and rest up the hip pointer injury he suffered in Tulsa; Degen can opt for his second shoulder surgery if he wants.

Those three back next season 100 percent healthy makes a dangerous team even more dangerous.

While we all are upset that wrestling season is over, myself included, it makes for next year to be a boatload of fun.

No reason to believe Iowa State won’t be a part of that fun, from beginning to end.