Takeaways: One big upset and a sprinkle of Hilton Magic

Redshirt junior Gannon Gremmel celebrates his victory over Carter Isley during Iowa State’s 18-16 victory over No. 16 Northern Iowa on Feb.16 in Hilton Coliseum.

Stephen Mcdaniel

Hilton Coliseum welcomed Iowa State wrestling back with open arms for not one but two Big 12 duals against West Virginia and Northern Iowa.

The Cyclones defended Hilton with a dominating 34-6 win over the Mountaineers and a come-from-behind 18-16 victory over the Panthers.

Colbray makes a statement

For the first time since dropping down to 174 pounds, Sam Colbray looks like the dominating force that Iowa State has been hoping for.

Colbray went from being knocked out of the top 20 by an unranked opponent to picking up his second win over a top 10 wrestler and delivering some of his best performances on the mat.

The first of the two matches that Colbray had during the weekend was against West Virginia’s Scott Joll.

“I saw a guy that’s a pretty darn good wrestler, and he’s pretty darn determined,” Head Coach Kevin Dresser said.

Colbray showed just how well he could preform at 174, recording an 18-7 major decision over Joll, and in the process, he tallied six takedowns and a 4-point near-fall.

But it was Sunday when Colbray would make his loudest statement.

Colbray had an opportunity to take a crack at Northern Iowa’s No. 5 ranked Bryce Steiert, who took down Marcus Coleman in the open 174 finals during the Harold Nichols Cyclone Open the last time he was in Ames on Nov. 10.

Colbray delivered.

“I felt like the match was 0-0 stepping out there; I felt like rankings didn’t mean much,” Colbray said. “I know my ability and my wrestling style and knew that I wanted to win, and I knew that it was going to be a dog fight.”

Trailing 6-5 against Steiert, Colbray shot on Steiert and recorded a takedown with 30 seconds remaining in the match. Colbray managed to ride out the remaining 30 seconds en route to an upset victory that paved the way for Iowa State.

The win over Steiert is Colbray’s first win against a top five-ranked opponent all season.

Preparations/Impacts on Big 12 and NCAA Tournament

One of the things that Dresser said in the week leading up to Iowa State’s weekend doubleheader with the Mountaineers and Panthers was that the weekend would provide the Cyclones with some early experience of what’s to come in March.

Dresser mentioned that having duals back-to-back aids in the process of getting used to making multiple weigh-ins and wrestling in multiple matches in a short amount of time.

Not only did the Cyclones rise to the task — picking up wins over West Virginia and Northern Iowa — but they also may have helped in shaking up the seedings when it comes to the Big 12 tournament.

“When [Steiert] walked off the mat, he owned it,” said Doug Schwab, head coach of Northern Iowa. “That’s what he learned, ‘I got to go fire again.’”

The weight that’s in question the most is 174.

Heading into the weekend, Colbray had suffered a loss to Oklahoma State’s Joe Smith back on Jan. 26. The day before Smith defeated Colbray, Steiert beat Smith in a 13-2 major decision. Now everything has come full circle with Colbray pulling the upset win over Steiert.

At 125, No. 12 Alex Mackall suffered losses to Oklahoma State’s No. 4 Nick Piccininni and most recently to No. 17 Jay Schwarm.

At heavyweight, No. 14 Gannon Gremmel recorded his second win over No. 11 Carter Isley but hasn’t been able to compete with No. 12 Josh Hokit of Fresno State. Gremmel lost to Utah Valley’s No. 7 Tate Orndorff during the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, but Orndorff was held out of the rematch during the Iowa State and Utah Valley dual.

Much needed micromanagement

Following the loss to Oklahoma State, Dresser said that there was going to be a micromanagement of the team to help them get into better shape.

Since that moment, Iowa State has recorded four consecutive dual wins, and plenty of individuals have been producing their best performances so far in the season.

After the start of the micromanagement, Iowa State dominated Fresno State 34-9, took down Oklahoma 22-14, had a repeat dominating performance against West Virginia and battled back to beat Northern Iowa.

In that time, Colbray stepped into his weight and recorded two signature wins over Steiert and Oklahoma’s Anthony Mantanona.

Redshirt senior Chase Straw has picked up wins in the last three duals, including a sudden victory win against Northern Iowa, after facing some struggles throughout the season.

“Just score the next point; that’s been my motto my whole career,” Straw said. “Especially like last year, getting hot at the end of the year is big, so hopefully I can repeat that.”

Redshirt junior Jarrett Degen made his return to the lineup and has won in three of the four duals since his return, including two pinfall victories.

The team is starting to look more and more in shape and have been hitting its stride with only two duals left in the season and the upcoming tournaments for the Big 12 and NCAA.