‘Yeah, we’re here’: No. 14 Iowa State recaps statement win


Owen Aanestad / Iowa State Daily

Iowa State freshman Casey Swiderski poses for a photo at his team’s media day on Oct. 10, 2022.

AMES—Iowa State wrestling is 3-0 in duals after its first weekend of the 2022-23 season.

In its first two matchups, Iowa State took care of business with wins against Campbell and Little Rock. But the team’s final win Saturday night spoke volumes to the No. 12 Cyclones’ position on the national stage.

Iowa State took down Wisconsin in impressive fashion, winning eight out of ten matches against the No. 12 ranked team in the nation.

Iowa State handed a loss to six Badger wrestlers ranked in the top 15 of the national rankings. The Cyclones finished ahead of the Badgers 26-6 and extended their 16-match win streak, the second longest in the nation.

“We did exactly what we needed to do,” Iowa State freshman Casey Swiderski said. “We needed to let everybody know yeah, we’re here.”

At the Battle for the River City, the Cyclones debuted their No. 2 rated freshman class. Five freshmen made the trip to the Jacksonville, Florida, round-robin. The 2022 recruiting class features three top-20 recruits.

“We’re doing things right, and we plan on doing things right all the way through March,” Swiderski said.

Swiderski and his training partner Paniro Johnson made waves in their first appearance in a Cyclone uniform.

Johnson went undefeated in his three matches and defeated his Badger counterpart. The No. 24 ranked freshman took down No. 2 Austin Gomez, the reigning Big Ten champion.

The unranked Swiderski made his mark by defeating Wisconsin’s No. 11 Joseph Zargo.

The pair of freshmen, who wrestle each other in Iowa State practices, said Saturday’s match was just a great starting point for a long road toward March.

“Beating that guy [Gomez] was not on my goal sheet,” the No. 24 ranked Johnson said. “My goal sheet is to be the best in the country.”

Johnson gray-shirted last season and competed for the Cyclone RTC program. While the Erie, Pennsylvania, native has never lost confidence on the mat, he credits head coach Kevin Dresser for boosting his confidence behind the scenes.

Johnson, a four-time high-school medalist in Pennsylvania, has fine-tuned nutrition, cardio and even his sleep since officially joining the team in the summer.

“I’m a big practice guy,” Iowa State head coach Kevin Dresser said. “You saw Saturday night what our practice room looks like.”

The freshman squad made no surprises for the Cyclone head coach. The group only confirmed expectations in Iowa State’s first event, Dresser said.

“He [Johnson] hasn’t been a great practice guy until just recently,” Dresser said.

Johnson and the Iowa State freshman will continue to realize a very high ceiling, Dresser said, but self-confidence has been there from the jump for Johnson and Swiderski in particular.

The two freshmen demonstrate swagger in a good way. Exactly the type of confidence-in-self all great wrestlers share, Dresser said.

Next up, Johnson, Swiderski, and the 2022-23 Cyclone team will debut to the home crowd. Iowa State will face the newest member of the Big 12 California Baptist in a dual at 8 p.m. Saturday.