Marcus Harrington ready to wrestle with the heavyweights of the NCAA

Marcus Harrington, a redshirt Sophmore at Iowa State, takes down Northern Iowa’s Chase Shedenhelm at Hilton Friday night.

Garrett Kroeger

The Iowa State wrestling team will feature more than a handful of new faces. Guys like Kanen Storr, Ian Parker and Samuel Colbray will get their shot at representing the Cyclones in attached competition this year.

While there will be some fresh faces, Iowa State does return a familiar face in Marcus Harrington.

The redshirt junior from Waterloo, Iowa had an up and down season last year. However, he qualified for the NCAA Tournament at 197 pounds for Iowa State. Plus, he is the only NCAA qualifier on this year’s squad.

Although Harrington was an NCAA qualifier at 197 pounds, Iowa State fans will be seeing him at a new weight class this season: heavyweight.

“It was something [Harrington] wanted to do,” said assistant coach Mike Zadick.

Coach Kevin Dresser jokingly said the reason why Harrington moved up weight classes was that he liked to eat. But Dresser wasn’t completely wrong.

Harrington was tired of cutting weight week after week. Even though he is bigger now, Harrington feels like he is in the best shape of his career.

“I feel like I have more output in practice, more energy,” Harrington said. “ I feel like my attacks are going to be better. I have been working on getting my attacks off against bigger guys here in the wrestling room.”

Now, moving up to heavyweight is no easy task. If he qualifies for the NCAA Tournament at this new weight, Harrington might have to take on grapplers like Iowa’s Sam Stoll or Ohio State’s Kyle Snyder who is perceived as the best wrestler in the world right now.

Currently, Harrington is sitting in the high 230s for weight. That is small compared to traditional heavyweight wrestlers who sit at 260 or 270 pounds.

The good news for Harrington, in terms of his preparation in moving to heavyweight this season, is that he has one of the best wrestlers in that class to train with: former Iowa State Cyclone and NCAA Champion Kyven Gadson.

The two have been training with one another ever since last year. And Harrington has seen growth within himself due to the fact he trains with Gadson.

“We have been pushing each other a lot,” Harrington said. “We are both training right now to be the same guy. I feel like our goals are pretty similar right now and we have definitely been pushing each other.”

The biggest thing Harrington is working on is getting out from under bottom and figuring out how to ride on top of heavyweights.

Due to him being lighter, it could be expected that his opponents will ride him tough and put their weight on him. So to counteract that technique, Harrington is looking to be more explosive off the whistle.

“If I can just fire off of the whistle every time, I can gain good control and be fine down there,” Harrington said.

Then in terms of riding on top, Harrington is still trying to figure out an approach.

“It’s been kind of difficult figuring out how to ride the heavyweights,” Harrington said. “I feel like I am wrestling a lot more active than them. So, if I can stay active on top, getting to my holds, turns, stuff like that, I’ll be alright.”

Despite still having to tone his technique, Harrington feels he is having a smooth transition to that heavyweight type of style.

Now, for some, the heavyweight style may seem boring. There are rarely any points scored. However, the coaching staff expects Harrington to score a lot of points at heavyweight. But, he needs to start believing in himself first.

“Tremendous ability,” Dresser said. “I have really liked what I have seen out of Marcus [Harrington] in the last month. For Marcus, it’s just about going out and scoring. Beating guys up for seven minutes. Not just going out and getting the first takedown and maybe getting another takedown.

“When he really buys into it, and when we see it sometimes and I have seen a couple times when he is scrapping with Kyven [Gadson], when he goes out to score the whole time he will definitely be a dynamic guy.”

If he starts believing in his ability, Harrington should not only return to the NCAA’s this season but should make the podium in the coaching staff’s mind.

“My goals for a guy like him aren’t seeing him just qualify,” Zadick said. “It’s where on that podium can he stand. He is kind of one of our sleepers. He has a really high side to him, as far as what he can do.

“I think he can shock himself. I don’t think he can shock me because once we implement our ways with him, I think he can open his own eyes to how good he can be.”