Roles reversed: Cyclone coaching staff finds itself on the other end of the Cy-Hawk rivalry

New head wrestling coach Kevin Dresser listens as Athletic Director Jamie Pollard introduces him in his first press conference Feb. 22, 2017.

Trevor Holbrook

Generally, members and followers of college sports disassociate themselves with their rivals.

In 2016, Ohio State attempted to remove all signs of the letter “M” in regards to its biggest rival — the Michigan Wolverines.

Duke blue and Carolina blue appear similar, but you’d never see Mike Krzyzewski sporting the lighter shade of the color.

Meanwhile, the Cyclone wrestling coaching staff learned the ropes of collegiate wrestling from Iowa State’s biggest in-state rival—the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Without an MLB, NBA or NFL team in Iowa, a large portion of sports fans follow collegiate sports, making the Cy-Hawk rivalry special for the state of Iowa.

“I’ve always grown up going to the Iowa versus Iowa State dual and it’s awesome,” said freshman Ryan Leisure. “There’s so many fans there, so many people there to just watch wrestling. It brings everyone together.”

Kevin Dresser, Mike Zadick, Brent Metcalf and Derek St. John all spent time in an Iowa singlet, but the quartet tucked away their black and gold to wear cardinal and gold.

The Iowa State coaching staff will sit in the opposite corner against Iowa on Sunday, but the staff’s wrestling roots still lie in Iowa City.

“Well, anytime it’s Iowa [and] Iowa State I’m sure it’s going to be a little animated and a little more smoke and fire with it,” Dresser said.

Iowa State head coach Kevin Dresser

Dresser, 55, kicked off his wrestling career at Iowa in 1983. The Humboldt, Iowa, native hit his groove in a Hawkeye singlet during the 1984-85 season.

The 142-pounder collected All-American honors in the 1984-85 season while adding a Big Ten Championship.

Dresser’s success on the mat carried into his final season in the 1985-86 season. Dresser earned another All-American honor and another Big Ten Championship. Dresser capped off the 1985-86 season by winning an NCAA Championship.

The Hawkeyes won the NCAA Championship all five seasons Dresser spent on the Iowa roster.

After a long coaching period in Virginia with a pair of high schools and Virginia Tech, Dresser is back in his home state and eager to wrestle his alma mater.

“I tell our team all the time the biggest match of the year is always the next match,” Dresser said. “Obviously, the fact that it’s Iowa coming to Ames makes that very relevant, very true.”

Iowa State associate head coach Mike Zadick

Dresser’s right hand man—Zadick—registered a successful career in black and gold as well.

From 2000 to 2002, Zadick rattled off three-straight All-American honors. The 149-pounder snagged two Big Ten Wrestler of the Week awards and a Big Ten Championship in the 2001-02 season.

After Zadick exhausted his college eligibility, the Montana native remained in the Iowa wrestling room, assisting with coaching duties and training for the Olympics. 

Zadick spent two stints as a volunteer assistant coach for the Hawkeyes (2004-06, 2009-10). Between 2006 and 2009, Zadick transitioned to the strength training coach for Iowa.

In his final two seasons with the Iowa coaching staff, Zadick adopted the interim assistant coach before leaving for Virginia Tech.

Iowa State volunteer assistant coach Brent Metcalf

Less than a decade removed from the Iowa wrestling team, Metcalf finds himself in Ames.

Before Metcalf’s arrival to Iowa State, the Davison, Michigan, native piled up accolades as a Hawkeye.

In Metcalf’s three seasons at Iowa, the 149-pounder was an NCAA finalist each season (2008-10), while winning the NCAA Championship in 2008 and 2010.

Metcalf delivered the second-highest career winning percentage in Iowa history, posting a 108-3 record.

A chunk of Metcalf’s 108 wins came via pins. Metcalf added the fourth-most pins (20) in Iowa history during the 2008-09 season. At the conclusion of Metcalf’s career, the 149-pounder found himself at No. 7 for career pins in Iowa history (47).

Iowa State assistant coach Derek St. John

St. John is the most recent Iowa State coach to wrestle in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. St. John finished his career as a four-time All-American at Iowa with a 157-pound NCAA Championship in 2013.

In St. John’s four seasons of wrestling for the Hawkeyes, the 157-pounder never finished worst than fifth in the NCAA Championships. At the end of St. John’s collegiate career, he finished with a 106-17 record.

Since joining the Iowa State coaching staff, one of St. John’s biggest impacts has come from redshirt sophomore 133-pounder Markus Simmons.


“Markus is a guy that’s got tons of potential,” Dresser said before the North Dakota State dual. “We assigned Simmons to [assistant coach] Derek St. John…if Markus Simmons follows Derek St. John to a T, he’s going to be a guy who’s going to be really, really solid by the end of the year.”

Recently, Simmons has been a bright spot for the Cyclones, picking up a major decision and a pin in his last two matches.

Over half of Iowa’s weights are ranked according to InterMat, but 133 isn’t one of Iowa’s strengths.

If Iowa State wants to make some noise on Sunday, the Cyclones need results from Simmons. He will compete in his first home Cy-Hawk dual, and the 133-pounder is expecting a different atmosphere in Hilton Coliseum.

“I’m expecting a lot more people to come just because it’s Iowa and Iowa State, and I know Iowa they travel a lot as well,” Simmons said. “I’m expecting for there to be a lot of people there, a lot of boos, fights I guess. There always is a fight going on [with] Iowa State and Iowa in the building.”


Another intriguing match in the Cy-Hawk dual lies in the heavyweight match.

Iowa State’s Marcus Harrington will match up with Iowa’s Sam Stoll. Harrington, a redshirt junior, is one of the more experienced Cyclones, but he hasn’t wrestled Iowa at home.

Stoll, a larger heavyweight, holds a size advantage over the smaller Harrington, but Harrington is taking a similar approach as he always does.

“He’s a big guy. He just likes to push and pull kind of,” Harrington said. “[I’ll use] my normal game plan, getting my attacks off. It’s not like we’re in here working any special drills just for this one guy. It’s the same wrestling match I wrestle every week.”

On paper, the Hawkeyes outmatch the Cyclones, but Dresser and his staff plan to use this as a measuring tool for a young Iowa State team.

“There’s some match ups there that will be great measuring sticks for us,” Dresser said. “I really think we’re progressing at 133; it’s a great measuring stick for him. I think at 141, Ian Parker’s proved that he can move up and compete with the very best… 184, 197, heavyweight I think are great measuring sticks.”