Upperclassmen have Cyclones in contention at Big 12 Championships

Iowa State’s Ian Parker tries to turn Fresno State’s DJ Llooren in their semifinal match in the 2021 Championships on March 6, 2021. Parker defeated Lloren 5-2 in the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. 

Sam Stuve

TULSA – – Okla. At the end of day one of the 2021 Big 12 Wrestling Championships at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Iowa State finds itself in a four-team battle for the team title, thanks to quality wrestling from its upperclassmen.

The Cyclones upperclassmen led them to the No. 4 spot (out of 12) in the team score heading into Sunday with 94 points, trailing Oklahoma who is in first with 107 points, Wyoming and Oklahoma State with 97 points. 

Iowa State’s upperclassmen combined for a 13-3 record on Saturday, with two of them reaching the finals.

Five of those wins came from seniors Gannon Gremmel at Heavyweight and Ian Parker at 141 pounds, both of whom are in the finals on Sunday against familiar foes.

Parker defeated Chase Zollman (Wyoming) by major decision 12-1 in the quarterfinals, then defeated DJ Lloren (Fresno State) 5-2 to advance to the finals where he’ll have a rematch against Dom Demas (Oklahoma).

Demas and Parker met in the finals in the 2020 Big 12 Championships, with Parker winning 4-2 in sudden victory period two. 

Parker also defeated Demas on Jan. 24 in Cedar Falls, Iowa, 4-3.

On Sunday, Gremmel also faces the man he lost to in the finals in 2020: Evan Andrews of Wyoming, who he lost 3-2 last year. 

“We’re looking for a little revenge at Heavyweight,” Iowa State Head Coach Kevin Dresser said.

Gremmel began Saturday with a pair of 6-2 victories over Chase Trussell of Utah Valley in the first round and Blake Wolters of South Dakota State in the quarterfinals.

In the semifinals, Gremmel went overtime tied with Josh Heindselman of Oklahoma at one. He secured a takedown in the first sudden victory period to win 3-1 over Heindselman, his second win over Heindselman this season. 

Gremmel was one of two Cyclones to win three matches on Saturday, with the other being redshirt junior Marcus Coleman.

While all three of Gremmel’s victories came via decision, Coleman pinned all three of his opponents. 

Coleman’s first pin of the day came against Nick Villarreal of Fresno State at the 3:59 mark in the match.

After suffering a one-point loss to Noah Adams of West Virginia in the quarterfinals, Coleman pinned Mitch Moore of Oklahoma at the 4:31 mark.

To cap-off his day, Coleman pinned Owen Pentz of North Dakota State at the 5:24 mark.

“He’s on fire right now, those bonus points sure help,” Dresser said. “Marcus did a great job for us today and I thought he competed in well the match that he lost.”

Coleman will begin Sunday with a bout against Tanner Sloan, who was the top-seed in the bracket when the tournament started, with the winner advancing to the third place match and the loser having to wrestle in the fifth place match.

In order to automatically qualify for the the 2021 NCAA Tournament, Coleman will need finish fifth or better in the Big 12 Tournament, because the NCAA gave the Big 12 five pre-allocations to the tournament for the 197 lb class.  

Coleman lost Sloan 7-3 on Feb. 14. 

The two other upperclassmen who are still in the hunt for third place are redshirt seniors Jarrett Degen at 149 pounds and Sam Colbray at 184 pounds.

Degen had a rough start on Saturday, losing to Kyle Parco of Fresno State 5-4 in the first round. 

He bounced back with a 6-2 win over Air Force’s Dylan Martinez and a 1-0 win over Cameron Hunsaker of Utah Valley.

Degen faces Triston Lara of Northern Iowa on Sunday with the winner advancing to the third place match and the loser having to wrestle in the fifth place match.

Degen lost to Lara via pin on Feb. 14. 

If Degen finishes better than fifth in the Big 12 Championships, he will automatically qualify for the NCAA Tournament because the NCAA gave the Big 12 five pre-allocations for the 149 lb class.

Colbray needs for finish fourth or better to automatically qualify for the NCAA Tournament.

He began the championships with a 3-1 sudden victory one win over Jake Thompson of Air Force in the opening round.

Colbray, like Coleman, lost a close quarterfinal match, losing 3-2 to Alan Clothier of Northern Colorado.

In the consolation bracket, Colbray topped North Dakota State’s Michael Nelson 11-6 and South Dakota State’s Jacob Schoon by major decision 14-5.

Colbray, who can finish as high as third or low as sixth, has his next match against Oklahoma State’s Dakota Geer.

Gremmel and Parker were two of three wrestlers for Iowa State to come in to the tournament as the top-seed and who are in the finals on Sunday.

The other was David Carr who had the most dominant victory of the day.

Carr began Saturday with a pin in 46 seconds over Parker Simington (Air Force) in the quarterfinals. He followed up that pin with a 8-2 win over Cade DeVos (South Dakota State) to advance to the finals where he’ll face Jared Franek of North Dakota State, who he beat by major decision (16-5) on Feb. 7 in Fargo, North Dakota.

Also still having the chance to qualify for the 2021 NCAA tournament are freshmen Kysen Terukina at 125 pounds and Zach Redding at 133 pounds.

Both wrestlers have went 2-1 on Saturday and have the chance to place between third and sixth, but both would need to finish fifth or better to automatically qualify for the NCAA Tournament.

Wrestling begins at 10 a.m. on Sunday with all consolation and placement matches outside of the finals occurring.

The finals begin at 5 p.m. and are being broadcasted on ESPN2.