From Scarlet to Cardinal: Alex Mackall prepares to anchor 125 for the Cyclones

125 pound redshirt sophomore, Alex Mackall poses at Iowa State Wrestlings media day. 

Trevor Holbrook

After cycling through a handful of options at 125-pounds last season, Iowa State appears to possess a strong candidate to stop the rotation.

Alex Mackall joined the Cyclones in spring 2018 after becoming the odd man out at Rutgers when Nick Suriano transferred out of Penn State to Rutgers. 

“I think Mackall’s the guy that’s kind of separating himself right now,” said assistant coach Brent Metcalf. “He’s a guy with a super high motor. A guy that has the right mentality, that wants to continue to build his lead and score lots of points.

“We had [Austin] Gomez [at 133-pounds], and then you add him in there. You put those two together and the fur just flies.”

If Iowa State maintains its health, the lower weights could anchor the dual lineup. Last season, the revolving door at 125 was followed by 133-pounds — a weight that mostly featured Markus Simmons, who transferred after the season.

After 133, Iowa State found inconsistent results at 141, too. After Kanen Storr’s midseason transfer, the Cyclones bumped Ian Parker up a weight. Parker had a successful first weekend at 141, but injured his knee, hampering him for the rest of the season.

This year, the new-look Cyclones hope to jump out strong in duals, featuring Mackall at 125, Austin Gomez — the No. 11 recruit of his class — at 133 and Parker or Ryan Leisure at 141 with NCAA qualifier Jarrett Degen looming.

Kicking the string of talent off is Mackall — a talented but unproven athlete.

Despite limited mat time at the Division I level, Mackall presents an impressive resume.

In 2014, the Walsh Jesuit (Ohio) 120-pound Mackall battled Hilton High School’s (New York) Yianni Diakomihalis. 

Mackall knocked off Diakomihalis, and the two competitors took different paths in college.

Diakomihalis moved onto Cornell University, and Mackall ended up at Rutgers. This spring, Mackall transferred to Iowa State.

“The tradition of [Iowa State] is obviously second to none — one of the best schools traditionally in the country,” Mackall said about his decision to join Iowa State. “I believe in what the coaches’ vision for the program is, and I think were close to everything we need to bring this school back to where it should be.”

Meanwhile, Diakomihalis competed for an NCAA Championship and capped off March, with a first-place finish in Cleveland at 141-pounds, overcoming a torn ACL on the way.

Along with the signature high school win, Mackall tacked on a state title and a runner-up finish, garnering the No. 71 ranking by Intermat.

Now, the 125-pounder seeks success in Ames, Iowa. He also improves others inside the Harold Nichols Wrestling Room.

With a string of defections, Kevin Dresser leaned on Jakob Allison — who sat out most the season due to injury — and Sinjin Briggs at 125.

“Iron sharpens iron,” Allison said about training with Mackall. “I’m out here pushing him; he’s out here pushing me just by us being in the same room.”

Allison said Mackall’s ability to wrestle on his feet and use his strength as a weapon. 

While he didn’t contribute to any duals for Iowa State or Rutgers last season, Mackall still performed in the 2017-18 season, wrestling unattached in three tournaments.

Mackall found mixed results. The Ohio native stacked up a 7-4 record. He experimented with 133-pounds at the Journeymen Classic and the Black Knight Invitational.

At the Journeymen Classic, Mackall added a win over Garrett Clifford from American University and two losses from Lehigh’s Nick Farro and Jamel Morris of North Carolina State.

At the Black Knight Invitational, Mackall went two-for-two, including a win over Rutgers’ Kyle DiNapoli. The losses came via Bloomsburg’s Andy Schutz and Army’s Lane Peters.

He capped off his season, rattling off four wins at the Sioux City Dave Edmonds Open in February at 125-pounds.

Despite a quiet season last year, the potential and high school accolades are there for Mackall, and Dresser realizes it.

“The best part [of the 125-pound weight] was we got a transfer midsemester last year from Rutgers in Alex Mackall, who was an Ohio prep and did really well in Ohio,” Dresser said. “He’s established himself as a leader right there, and he’s had a really great experience since he’s been here.”