Three Big Takeaways: Iowa State wrestling season comes to a close

Iowa State redshirt junior David Carr wins his match against North Dakota State’s Jared Franek on Jan. 23 in Hilton Coliseum.

Christian Royston

The mats have now been cleared in the Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, and as the lights dim and the curtain closes on the NCAA Championships, the wrestling season comes to a close.

The season had many ups and downs throughout the postseason, but with all the Cyclones have accomplished, they can come home with a sense of pride.

The Cyclones finished atop the Big 12, placed third in the Big 12 Championships and watched three Cyclones come out of the NCAA Championships as All-Americans.

Although the expectations were at an all-time high for the No. 5 Cyclones going into the postseason, they still proved they could go out and compete with the best of the best. With the departure of a couple of seasoned veterans, a new season will usher in new opportunities to build on the constant improvements that have been made in the Kevin Dresser era of Cyclone wrestling.

A season of dominance

The last few years of NCAA wrestling have been anything but normal.

With the uncertainties of COVID-19 resulting in the cancellation of the 2020 NCAA Championships and shortening the 2021 season, it was easy to question which teams would come out on top in the 2022 season.

The previous season resulted in the first Cyclone national champion (David Carr) since the 2015 season when Kyven Gadson secured the title in the 197-pound weight class. However, the NCAA field looked very different without the presence of the Ivy-league schools. 

With the tournament fields back up to full strength, fans in the stands and a strong schedule to prepare the athletes for the postseason, Cyclone wrestling fans had a lot to look forward to in the 2022 season; the team did not disappoint.

The Cyclones were expected to be good but turned out to be a great regular season. The final regular-season rankings had Iowa State near the top, ranked fifth in the nation after finishing the year 15-1 with a perfect 8-0 record in the Big 12 Conference. 

The one loss of the year came to the Hawkeyes, who were ranked first in the nation at the time, and who ended the year third at the NCAA Championships. The whole team saw success, as the Cyclones shut out five teams on the season, with two back-to-back blanks.

The most notable shutout came against Northwest Kansas Technical College, where the team put up 56 points, which is their second-most ever behind their 57 scored against New Mexico in 1998. They also tied the school record for pins with seven, the most they have scored in nearly 70 years.

Iowa State also finished the season with a 13-match win streak to finish the dual meet season, the longest since they strung together 17-straight wins in 2004. The Cyclones finished with the second-longest streak in the nation, trailing just Penn State’s 28-straight wins.

The Cyclones gained traction early into conference play, as their trip to Oklahoma resulted in two wins over ranked opponents, with a dominant outing against a top-five Oklahoma State team. The team ended the season with close but very important wins over Northern Iowa and Missouri. Missouri would go on to win the Big 12 Championships just weeks later.

The Cyclones also saw success on the big stage as they qualified nine wrestlers for the NCAA Championships, with Carr defending his place at the top of the Big 12’s 157-pound weight class. The NCAA Championships proved to be a struggle at times for the Cyclones, as early losses pushed them to a 17th place finish with 37 team points.

Three Cyclones ended their weekend as All-Americans. After an early upset in the second round, Carr battled back to finish third in Detroit. Marcus Coleman and Yonger Bastida stayed alive through the final day to finish 7th at 184 pounds and 5th at 197 pounds, respectively.

Saying goodbye

A lot can change over the offseason, but Iowa State is set to welcome back eight of its ten starters. The main departures are Ian Parker at 141 pounds and Jarrett Degen at 149 pounds.

Parker has been a consistent contributor to the Cyclones’ success over his career. He finished his Cyclone career with a 93-30 record and qualified for the NCAA Championships four times. Parker competed hard in the 141-pound weight class, and the hole he will leave in the starting lineup will be felt.

Parker, the 2020 Big 12 champion at 141 pounds, came into the 2022 season as a 149-pound wrestler. He kicked off the season, falling to Iowa’s Max Murin before returning to the 141 pounds. 

From then on, Parker was lights out, going flawless on the year before taking his first loss in the Big 12 Championships. Parker also cracked the top-5 in InterMat’s end of the regular season rankings before securing the No. 13 seed in the national tournament.

Degen was also a strong part of the Iowa State lineup, becoming the first-ever Cyclone to qualify for five NCAA Championships. Degen finished his incredible career with a 92-35 record.

The two-time All-American made history in Detroit as he stepped onto the mat for his fifth time, joining 23 other athletes who saw their talent recognized for a historical fifth time in 2022. Although he may not have physically taken the mat in 2020, the COVID year gave him the chance to come back for one last campaign as a Cyclone.

Degen finished the season 18-7, with nearly half of those losses coming from his kryptonite, Oklahoma’s Willie McDougald. He capped off his season with a fourth-place finish at the Big 12 Championships before exiting the NCAA tournament on the first day.

The Belgrade, Mont., native got the opportunity to return home for a pair of duals in his old high school. Degen put on a clinic in those two duals, pinning both his opponents in strong fashion.

Both Parker and Degen will be tough losses for the Cyclones, as they started a majority of the matches in the 141-pound and 149-pound weight class.

The future is bright

Although the Cyclones fell short of expectations at the NCAA tournament, the team is set up and ready to win.

With eight of the 10 starters returning, and seven returning All-Americans, it is safe to assume that Dresser will continue to improve the Cyclones into the powerhouse they once were. A few veteran wrestlers will get their chance to make some final waves in the coming year as they choose to finish out their eligibility.

The most notable returner is David Carr, who was the national champion in 2021 and placed 3rd at the NCAA Championships in 2022. Carr tallied up 55-straight wins before seeing that streak snapped against Oregon State’s Hunter Willits. The only other loss that Carr has had in his career was to Northwestern’s Ryan Deakin in 2019, who finished his season as the national champion at 157 pounds.

Carr still has two years left of eligibility to shoot to be another five-time NCAA qualifier and reclaim his spot at the top. Carr was also in the running for the Hodge trophy and will have another shot to prove how dominant he is in the coming years.

Marcus Coleman also announced his plans to return to Iowa State. The Ames, Iowa, native will get another shot to dominate the 184-pound weight class, as his improvement in 2022 was very promising for what lies ahead.

Coleman has jumped around the weight classes over the years, finally finding great success at 184 pounds. His move down from 197 pounds was much highlighted by his selection as an All-American after his seventh-place finish at the NCAA Championships.

Coleman finished the year with a 22-6 record, ranking in the top-10 in his weight class.

The last Cyclone who might be making a victory lap for the team is heavyweight Sam Schuyler. After moving up the heaviest weight class in his final season at Buffalo, Schuyler made his debut as a Cyclone in the 2022 season and put together a solid run.

Schuyler finished 17-8, with his only losses coming against high-ranked opponents through the year. He also put together a 10-win streak and became the team’s consistent anchor.

His most notable win came in the very tight dual against UNI.

Not only are experienced Cyclones returning, but young talents are continuing to prove themselves and grow. Kysen Terukina made a name for himself in the 125-pound weight class, finishing the year 18-8. 

Terukina’s season was highlighted by back-to-back wins over top-10 opponents in Oklahoma State’s Trevor Mastrogiovanni and West Virginia’s Killian Cardinale. Cardinale would become the Big 12 champion in the 125-pound weight class. Terukina also finished his year as an NCAA qualifier for the second straight year.

Ramazan Attasauov improved at 133 pounds, finishing the year with a 16-8 record and placing 3rd in the Big 12 Championships. Unfortunately, his year got cut short at the NCAA tournament as he had to medically withdraw after the first day.

Attasauov is a native of Russia and is only one of two international wrestlers on the Cyclones’ roster. The other wrestler is Yonger Bastida from Trinidad, Cuba, who also improved greatly over the season.

Bastida became a fan favorite quick, as his first major win came in the hotly contested Cy-Hawk dual, where he took down Iowa’s Jacob Warner, who was ranked in the top-10 at the time.

In Bastida’s first full year as a Cyclone, he finished 25-7 and placed fifth at the NCAA Championships, becoming one of only three All-Americans for Iowa State.

The Cyclones are also welcoming many new freshmen who have seen significant production at the high school level. The 2022 class is highlighted by plenty of state champions, including four-time state champion from Iowa, Carter Fousek, and four-time state champion from Michigan, Casey Swiderski, who is also the top-ranked high school senior at 145 pounds.

With the depth of the Iowa State wrestling team going into the coming season, there is a lot to look forward to. The Cyclones have shown improvement across the board throughout the year and have proved that they can hang with any school in the nation.