Carr, Coleman ready to step back into national spotlight at NCAAs


Brett Rojo

Iowa State’s David Carr. Image taken at the Big 12 Wrestling Championship, Sunday, March 06, 2022, BOK Center, Tulsa, OK. Brett Rojo/For The Big 12 Conference

Adarsh Tamma

The Iowa State wrestling team will mark its return to the national stage when they compete at the 91st NCAA Championships Thursday in Detroit, Mich.

The Cyclones enter the competition with nine wrestlers qualified in out of the ten weight classes.

Coming off of a Big 12 Championship that saw them place third after taking the conference’s regular season title, the Cyclones are looking to reset their focus towards the national championships.

“Excited I think is the key word right now. Everybody is excited,” Iowa State Head Coach Kevin Dresser said on the team’s mood. “We went into the Big 12’s 0-0, and had some good things and had some bad things happen, but we get to be 0-0 one more time. So, we have to learn from that.”

After the dust had settled at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Iowa State emerged with just one conference champion in David Carr’s victory in the 157-pound weight class. Carr earned his third-straight Big 12 title with an 8-2 win over North Dakota State’s Jared Franek, and in the process pushed his winning streak to 54 consecutive matches.

He joins Minnesota’s Gable Steveson (47) and Cornell’s Yianni Diakomihalis (70) as the only three wrestlers in the nation to have won at least 35 matches in a row.

Add to that a national championship from last season, and it’s safe to say that Carr will have much more different status in the field of 33 ahead of the national finals- from contender in 2021 to frontrunner in 2022.

As the number one overall seed, Carr will face the winner of Derek Holschlag (Northern Iowa) and Jordan Silvka (Ohio) in the first round of his bracket. He will be joined by both Northwestern’s Ryan Deakin (13-0) and Arizona State’s Jacori Teemer (19-0) as fellow undefeated wrestlers in the 157-pound division. Both Deakin and Teemer won their respective conference titles, with Deakin matching Carr’s “three-peat” performance in the Big Ten, and being the last wrestler to defeat Carr in 2019.

For Carr, the expectations seem to not bother him as much heading into this week’s championship.

“This year, the message has really just [been that] ‘this is something we love to do.’ There’s really no pressure, just go out there and have fun, wrestle and put on a show,” Carr said. “When our guys do that, I think we’re going to have a lot of All-Americans, a lot of guys in the finals, so that’s the goal.”

Senior Marcus Coleman joins Carr as one of three Cyclones with a top-ten ranking, as he is the No. 8 seed in the 184-pound bracket. Coleman finished third at the Big 12 Championships, joining fellow senior Ian Parker as the 47th and 48th wrestlers from Iowa State to qualify for four NCAA finals.

Coleman’s performance at the meet was overshadowed by sad news however, as he learned the day before that his grandfather, Michael Andorf, had passed away from cancer at the age of 74. Coleman’s emotions poured out in the third-place match, as he pointed towards the ceiling with tears in his eyes after taking a 19-6 major decision win over Oklahoma’s Keegan Moore.

“He was kind of like a father figure to me growing up,” Coleman said of his late grandfather. “He was a man that I modeled my life after and it was really hard because he was one of my biggest fans. I know he was always watching my wrestling- every meet and every time that I talked to him, that’s the first thing that he brought up.”

Coleman, who enters the NCAA tournament with a season record of 17-4, was on a hot streak of his own at the start of the season. The Ames native won 14 out of his first 15 matches, dominating his opponents at times and finishing with 10 bonus point wins.

Coleman’s teammates and coaches have sung his praises throughout the season, and again believe that he could go on a run at the NCAAs. Carr said of his teammate, “I’m rooting for him to come out and have a great, great NCAA tournament, and I think he can do it. If he believes in himself, and believes in his offense. The way he wrestled the backside of the Big 12s – just shooting, being relentless, beating the crap out of guys – if he goes out there with that mindset, you’re going to see a lot of Marcus Coleman.”

“He’s been put in the fire a lot this year, and has won some big matches for us,” Dresser said on Coleman’s performances. “I think he’s going to be really competitive all weekend.”

For Coleman, the focus on wrestling and this week’s championships may provide some distraction from the events off of the mat. Coleman said his grandfather’s death that, “I haven’t had time to think about it. Everyday I’m doing something, I don’t have a lot of down time right now.”

Elsewhere for the Cyclones, 149-pounder Jarrett Degen will become the first wrestler in program to compete in the national championships five times, while sophomore Kysen Terukina repeats his feat from last season as being the only wrestler in the tournament from the state of Hawaii.

Terukina, who finished eighth at the Big 12 Championships in the 125-pound division, will face Oklahoma State’s Trevor Mastrogiovanni in the first round, whom he beat in the Cyclones’ 20-12 win over the Cowboys on Jan. 30.

Junior Joel Devine will also be competing in his first NCAA championships, as the 174-pounder will wrestle against No. 9 seed Mikey Labriola of Nebraska, who finished third in last year’s tournament. He will be joined in the first-timers category by No. 24 Ramazan Attasauov (133 pounds) and No. 10 Yonger Bastida (197 pounds), both of whom qualified for this year’s championships thanks to top-five performances at the Big 12 tournament.

The first round of the NCAA Wrestling Championships will commence at noon on Thursday at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit. The first two days of the tournament will be broadcasted on ESPNU and ESPN for the morning and evening sessions respectively, with the finals back on ESPN on Saturday evening.

Brackets for each weight class can also be found here.