Degen remains alive after day one of the NCAA Wrestling Tournament

Freshman Jarrett Degen taking down a Hawkeye enemy during the CyHawk wrestling dual meet on Feb. 18 at the Hilton Coliseum. 

Jack Shover

As the only Cyclone to make the NCAA tournament this year, 149-pounder Jarrett Degen looked to become Iowa State’s first All-American since 2016 and the first of the Kevin Dresser era.

In 2016, Iowa State had three wrestlers earn All-American honors: 133-pounder Earl Hall, 174-pounder Lelund Weatherspoon and 197-pounder Pat Downey.

In Degen’s first match of the day, he faced No. 13 seed Colton McCrystal from Nebraska, who Degen beat 9-5 with 1:50 in riding time.

Throughout the match, Degen was able to fight off McCrystal’s takedown attempts.

Several times during the match McCrystal was able to change levels quickly and get ahold of Degen’s long legs, but Degen was able to use his length as an advantage.

In the first period, McCrystal shot for a double leg, but Degen defended it well by keeping his balance as McCrystal transitioned to a body lock and then tried to pull Degen’s leg in for a single.

Later in the period, McCrystal was able to get into Degen’s legs and secure a takedown.

With Degen on bottom, Degen got to his base and then to his feet with McCrystal still behind him. McCrystal was then put in a bad position as Degen spun out of his grasp. McCrystal gave his back to Degen who immediately scored a reversal and rode out the rest of the period tied 2-2.

In the second period, Degen began on bottom and in seconds scored an escape.

McCrystal then scored a single leg takedown to retake the lead over Degen.

Degen earned an escape and McCrystal shot again and got deep onto one of Degen’s legs, but Degen split out his legs to prevent the takedown.

With McCrystal deep onto his leg, Degen attempted to secure a cradle, but was only able to obtain a takedown.

After two periods, Degen held a 6-4 lead.

McCrystal attempted to tie the score with a takedown, but Degen tossed McCrystal off of his feet during his shot defense. McCrystal regained his balance quickly and got deep into another shot which Degen sat back on. From there, Degen worked toward the side of McCrystal and used supplier positioning to get a takedown.

Degen’s win against McCrystal marked the only win by an unseeded 149-pounder in the first round of the tournament.

Next up for Degen was No. 4 Troy Heilmann from North Carolina.

As in the first match, Degen’s opponent was easily able to get onto his long legs, but this time Heilmann was able to capitalize.

To begin scoring in the first period, Heilmann secured a takedown on Degen which Degen escaped from. For the rest of the period, Degen and Heilmann traded shots with each other with neither able to score.

Heilmann then began the second period on bottom and secured a reversal when both wrestlers were on their feet. Degen soon escaped.

Heilmann then had a single leg against Degen, but Heilmann was not able to score from that position as he couldn’t knock Degen off balance.

The two wrestlers went to the ground and Heilmann kept control of a leg with Degen on his butt, but Degen kept the two in neutral position with a firm grasp on Heilmann’s hips. Heilmann fought off Degen’s defense though and scored another takedown.

Degen began the third period on bottom before earning an escape. Then, in the latter half of the third period, Degen secured both a takedown and a stalling warning to cut the lead to 6-5.

During the scramble, Heilmann was able to grab ahold of Degen’s ankle to halt any chance of scoring additional points. Degen fought to try to improve positioning and work a move, but it didn’t net any results and instead just drained what time was left until a stalemate was called.

With mere seconds left in the match and a stalling warning already against Heilmann, Degen tried to push the pace and land a shot, but Heilmann stifled any upset attempt by securing a headlock to take control of Degen and allowing the time to expire.

Degen’s 7-5 loss at the hands of Heilmann bounced him from the front of the bracket.

On Friday morning, Degen will face the winner of Minnesota’s Steve Bleise and Wisconsin’s Cole Martin.

Bleise and Martin have faced each other twice this season. The first time was at the UNI Open and the other time at the Big Ten Championships. Bleise won both matches 3-1.