Iowa State wrestling coaches focuses on becoming the best


Kevin Dresser, Iowa State’s head coach of wrestling, speaks at his introductory press conference on Feb. 22, 2017. 

Ben Visser

The Iowa State wrestling coaching staff is comprised entirely of Iowa Hawkeyes.

But even in the one day since Mike Zadick, Derek St. John and Brent Metcalf have been hired, that horse has been beat to death.

Their focus isn’t on Iowa, or beating Iowa, or reinvigorating the Iowa-Iowa State rivalry. It’s on becoming the best.

“People talk about getting this rivalry back in state,” associate head coach Mike Zadick said. “It’s really not about that. I’m not worried about Iowa — I’m worried Penn State right now.

“We’re looking a lot farther than just across the street. Penn State, that’s the team if you want to start looking at motivating our team right now.”

After a 1-12 season some people might think Iowa State doesn’t have the talent to compete at a high level immediately. The new coaching staff says they’re ready to compete now.

“I think we have the firepower in our program, I just think developing their mind right now and getting them to believe and having them open minded to … a different way of doing things. Do I think they’re very capable? Yeah.”

Much of Iowa State’s young talent is at the lower and middleweights. Guys like Danny Vega at 125 pounds, Markus Simmons and incoming freshman Austin Gomez at 133 pounds, Kanen Storr at 141 pounds and Ian Parker at 149 pounds will carry Iowa State into the future.

Gomez originally asked for his release from Iowa State when Kevin Jackson resigned, but Dresser sold the No. 14 recruit on his vision and his assistants.

New Iowa State assistant Derek St. John, a former volunteer assistant at Virginia Tech, is familiar with many of them.

“Walking into this program, I’m excited because of what they have coming into the program already with the recruiting and the young guys that are involved,” St. John said. “I’ve watched a lot of these guys over the past couple of years going through their high school and what not.”

All of Iowa State’s new coaches had success during their careers at those same middle and lightweights. Storr believes that will translate to Iowa State’s young talent at those same weights.

“It’s going to be really exciting just because they’re closer to our weight and be able to show us techniques that work for our weight,” Storr said. “It’s going to be really cool to learn different styles and techniques from them. It’s going to be interesting to see what they have to show for us.”

Just because the coaches are all at lower or middleweights doesn’t mean the heavyweights have been left out to dry. Gannon Gremmel, Marcus Harrington and Sam Colbray will receive the same amount of attention.

“They’re all going to have the same opportunity,” Zadick said. “They’re all going to have all of us at their disposal and we’re going to work with them all as much as they commit themselves. We’ll be in that room around the clock with them.”

Dresser doesn’t believe in having specific coaches for specific weights, but Zadick seems to gravitate towards the big guys.

“If you’ve ever seen Ty Walz and Jared Haught wrestle, that’s Mike Zadick over here,” Dresser said. “In terms of development, these guys could coach 100 pounders or 500 pounders.”

Development is something of a specialty of this new Iowa State staff. And even though volunteer assistant Brent Metcalf has never had a collegiate coaching position before, Dresser still believes he’ll do big things.

“Derek St. John, if you look at his three-year resumé of coaching, just about everybody he’s touched really close has All-American’d,” Dresser said. “That’s a pretty good thing to have on your resumé. … Then Metcalf is competitive as heck so he’s going to get four All-Americans himself next year.

“We’re going to compete like crazy in that respect. This is kind of my dream team here. I’ll step back and watch them go.”