Two wrestling seniors finish senior night on high note


Gabe Moreno wrestles Minnesota’s Ben Brancale on Feb. 19. Moreno goes out with an 8-0 major decision and 4:15 of riding time on Senior Day. Minnesota defeated Iowa State, 40-7.

Curran Mclaughlin

The 11 Iowa State wrestling seniors and their family members completely covered two sides of the mat at Hilton Coliseum, forming a 90-degree angle.

The crowd voiced their appreciation for the men who had spent four or more years of their life on the mat in the Harold Nichols wrestling room and at Hilton Coliseum.

Senior night appreciation was followed with an absolute disaster in Iowa State’s dual with No. 13 Minnesota.

Only seniors Earl Hall and Gabe Moreno managed to win in the Golden Gopher’s 40-7 dismantling of the Cyclone wrestling program Sunday afternoon, the worst home loss in program history.

The Cyclones were scoreless at intermission. No. 10 Hall faced No. 17 Mitch McKee to start the second half.

The pair traded off takedowns and reversals, but Hall took a 12-6 lead going into the final period.

Hall’s chose neutral, having success there all match

Before he got set, he motioned the crowd to get excited.

“I just wanted to hear the crowd behind me,” Hall said. “I just wanted to get Hilton jumping one more time.”

Hall finished the match with a 16-9 decision. Hall looked out to the cheering crowd and pointed around to the fans, bumping his fist to his heart.

“It felt like I gave them what they wanted tonight,” Hall said.

Moreno followed it up two matches later with an 8-0 major decision.

Moreno wrestled one of his most complete matches of his career, having controlled Ben Brancale in every period.

“It was such a relief [to win],” Moreno said. “Some of my teammates weren’t able to do that.”

Moreno wasn’t watching Hall’s match, but he could hear the crowd as he prepared for his match.

Knowing that at least Hall came out to wrestle was enough to motivate Moreno to walk out of Hilton with his hand raised.

“It’s hard not to be afraid to lose when you’re in a situation like this because you really want to win on your last go out,” Moreno said. 

For both men, the dual gave them mixed emotions. They went out and won, but the team as whole fell flat.

“Right now it’s just a ton of emotions. I’m pretty mad because we didn’t really wrestle well as a team,” Moreno said.

Hall said that at this point in the season all anybody can do is worry about taking care of their business.

He walked onto the mat determined to put on a show. Hall said that it’s what Cyclone fans should expect from him for the rest of the year.

“[My] last time in Hilton, [I] came through great — I just wish my brothers would have came through stronger, though,” he said. 

In a way, it was also senior night for coach Kevin Jackson and his staff, who will not be returning next season after finishing the dual season 1-12. Jackson announced he was resigning in late January. 

It was disappointing to not perform at Hilton, but Jackson could at least celebrate with Moreno and Hall one last time.

After his match, Hall ran to each coach and hugged them. He’s built a personal connection with all four men, but the strongest one is with Jackson.

Hall has said before that he will do whatever he can to make Jackson’s last season special.

“It’s like [he’s] my dad,” Hall said. “I really, really love that man. The only thing I can do is go out there and compete for him, that’s all he’s ever [wanted].”