Harold Nichols Cyclone Open proves Iowa State wrestling has a lot to improve

Iowa State’s new assistant wrestling coaches are introduced to the media Tuesday, April 4. 

Trevor Holbrook

Since Kevin Dresser arrived in Ames last spring, Cyclone fans have had a buzz around the wrestling program.

Iowa State fans are no strangers to coaching changes whether it’s football, men’s basketball, softball or, most recently, wrestling.

In a sport such as men’s basketball, under the new staff, Iowa State grabbed success right away. In football, Iowa State struggled under Matt Campbell in his first season as the Cyclone head coach.

It appears the wrestling program could have a slow start, similar to football, but Dresser believes that the Harold Nichols Cyclone Open was a somewhat rocky start for Iowa State.

“[I saw] kind of what I expected to be honest,” Dresser said after the Cyclone Open. “[I saw] some good, some bad and some ugly.”

Some of the sporadic start could be attributed to the roster’s youth as a factor.

Youth is great for building a program, but it takes time to develop young talent and build maturity. At the Harold Nichols Cyclone Open, not all Iowa State wrestlers were active on the mat.

Aside from injuries, three Cyclones — Daniel Vega, Dante Rodriguez and Jonathan Marmolejo — violated minor team rules, leading to the trio being inactive.

Not only are the violation of team rules a sign of immaturity, but Dresser also believes the results from Saturday’s tournament will be a wake-up call for his roster.

“With certain individuals now, I think we’ve got some ammunition, if you know what I mean,” Dresser said. “We can go back and say ‘guess what, we told you.’”

Along with some of the kinks that Iowa State needs to work out, Saturday featured some bright spots as well.

Redshirt freshman 133-pound Ian Parker, freshman 141-pound Kristian Vasquez, redshirt freshman 149-pound Gavin DeWitt, redshirt sophomore 157-pound Chase Straw and freshman 197-pound Kaden Sauer all finished first at their weights on Saturday.

Currently, Parker and fellow 133-pounder Markus Simmons are locked in a battle for the starting position. On Saturday, Parker emerged as a solid option for Dresser in the lineup.

“I know the one guy on the team right now that does everything right, that’s a detail-oriented guy, that does everything right, is Ian Parker,” Dresser said. “He’s cut more weight, he’s got more discipline, he’s got a stronger work ethic, he’s the gold standard in our room right now.”

Parker wasn’t the only athlete to improve his odds at the starting lineup. With Rodriguez out, DeWitt surged towards the starting position with a strong performance on Saturday.

After redshirting last season, DeWitt gained valuable mat time, and he was ready to showcase it on Saturday.

“Good for Gavin, he won a tournament,” Dresser said. “I haven’t seen that spark in the room, but maybe this is a confidence booster for him right now.”

It’s worth noting that a lot of the competition features schools that are smaller Division I schools and schools that aren’t on the Division I level, but nonetheless, schools such as UNI and other quality smaller schools still bring stout competition.

Iowa State wrestling had its peaks and valleys on Saturday, but this is just the beginning for Dresser and the Cyclones.

“They’re going to start doing things our way now,” Dresser said. “The honeymoon’s over starting Monday.”