Iowa State wrestling enters the Kevin Dresser era


New wrestling Head Coach Kevin Dresser listens to a reporter’s question during his introductory press conference.

Jack Shover

This wrestling season, Iowa State will debut new head coach Kevin Dresser who comes to Iowa State by way of Virginia Tech.

During his 11-year tenure there, Dresser turned around a struggling Virginia Tech program. Before Dresser’s hiring in 2006, the Hokies won only one dual meet. In Dresser’s final season, the Hokies finished 18-1.

Other highlights of Dresser’s time at Virginia Tech include five top 10 NCAA finishes, including a No. 4 finish in 2016. Dresser has also had wrestlers finish as All-Americans 25 times.

Part of Dressers success stems from his ability to acquire great recruiting classes. At Virginia Tech, six of his recruiting classes finished in the top 11, according to FloWrestling.

Dresser’s recruiting ability is already on display after acquiring a commitment from the No. 5 pound for pound recruit in the nation, David Carr, per FloWrestling. Carr’s father wrestled at Iowa State and the legacy Cyclone will project to wrestle at 165 or 174 pounds.

Dresser is currently inheriting a Cyclone squad that finished 1-12 last season, but the future is bright with 30 of the 37 wrestlers being underclassmen.

Despite a rough last season, redshirt senior Dane Pestano is still confident in this Cyclone squad for the upcoming season and the future.

“I hope that in the next few years and maybe even this year [we finish] top 10. I think that we have the wrestlers and the squad to do that,” Pestano said.

Dresser believes the possible success and ceiling of this team is unknown.

“It is scary, but it is also exciting,” Dresser said.

Dresser has called his current staff, consisting of associate head coach Mike Zadick, assistant coach Derek St. John and volunteer assistant Brent Metcalf, his “Dream Team.”

The staff takes a hands on approach with its athletes and aims to help sharpen and evolve the skills of each individual wrestler.

“We are very hands on − intimate is a word that comes to mind. We really invest and we really care,” Zadick said. “We’ll take someone who maybe is decent and hopefully develop them to be very good and we’ll take somebody who is very good and make them great.”

The personality and coaching style of the staff helped redshirt freshman Jarrett Degen make an easy decision to transfer from Virginia Tech to Iowa State.

Degen is the only Hokie to follow the coaches to Iowa State and is currently listed as competing against redshirt sophomore Dante Rodriguez at 149-pounds.

Practice habits aside, Dresser is waiting for someone to step up and be the next big name at Iowa State. The coaches also hope that someone steps up in a leadership role.

“I am hoping that we can get somebody to step up on this team and maybe be more of a verbal leader,” Dresser said. “We have some really great guys that lead by example, but I think it would be a great thing for us right now.”

Competition will be ripe throughout the season with multiple athletes listed competing at every weight class except for 141-pounds, which is occupied by No. 13 redshirt freshman Kanen Storr, the only ranked Cyclone, per FloWrestling and 184-pounds, which is held by Pestano.

Dresser noted the competition will be a staple of the program moving forward and recruiting blue chip athletes will add to the competition in the room.

The competition in the room will not be unique to the early season as Dresser said he would have a new athlete compete in the latter part of the season if it is warranted.

“We want guys that want to compete, and the old ‘iron sharpens iron’ is the way things are going to happen in Ames,” Dresser said.