Ryan Leisure and Francis Duggan make season dual debuts against Chattanooga

149 pound then-redshirt freshman, Ryan Leisure poses at Iowa State wrestling’s media day. 

Stephen Mcdaniel

Iowa State returned to Hilton for its first dual since losing to rival No. 1 Iowa, but two new faces accompanied Iowa State this time. Redshirt sophomore Ryan Leisure and redshirt freshman Francis Duggan made their dual debuts, taking the starting role in their respective weight classes.

Leisure filled in at 149 pounds after head coach Kevin Dresser and company decided it was in best interest to rest the No. 10 ranked Jarrett Degen following the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational.

Degen competed the first day of Cliff Keen and was one of three semifinalists for the Cyclones alongside Alex Mackall at 125 and David Carr at 157. Degen would not compete the second day after medically forfeiting all three of his matches on the second day of Cliff Keen, going from semifinalist to a sixth-place finish.

The Iowa State coaching staff was doubtful about Degen’s status for Saturday nights dual against Chattanooga. After deciding Degen was a no-go, Leisure warmed up and put on the Iowa State singlet and faced off against Chattanooga’s Tanner Smith, who’s ranked at No. 21 by FloWrestling.

“I think the first time in Hilton can be either really exciting for someone or really intimidating for someone,” said redshirt junior Alex Mackall. “It’s just getting used to wrestling in different circumstances.”

Smith took control of the match after a first period takedown. In the following period, Smith choose down and scored a reversal on Leisure. The third period is where Smith caused the most damage against Leisure.

In the third period, Leisure choose to start in neutral position, which lead to Smith earning another takedown, which Leisure escaped from. Smith closed the final period out with a third takedown, followed by a four-point near fall and an extra point for the near four minutes of ride time he accumulated.

The only other experience Leisure has had this season came from the Cyclone Open, where he lost both matches he was in. He lost in a 11-3 major decision to Zemua Baptista and was pinned by Kevon Davenport, both were from the University of Nebraska.

“He had a funky illness in November and he just got back with us on Dec. 1 and I knew that he wouldn’t be great, but he wanted to go and he felt he was ready to go,” Dresser said. “I knew he wouldn’t be ready to go full steam, but I think it’s good for him to get out there and feel that crowd.”

Coming into the 2019-20 season, the spot at 197 was in question after NCAA All-American Willie Miklus graduated. Redshirt freshmen Joel Shapiro and Francis Duggan were the two guys battling for the starting spot at 197 at the start of the season.

Shapiro took the reins at 197 after defeating Duggan in the third-place matchup in the open 197 bracket at the Harold Nichols Cyclone Open.

As the starting 197, Shapiro lost in the first two duals against Bucknell and Iowa. He lost to Drew Phipps on Bucknell in a 4-0 decision and lost to Jacob Warner of Iowa in a 11-2 major decision.

Duggan found his way to the starting 197 spot against Chattanooga after Shapiro made the trip to Cedar Falls, Iowa to take part in the UNI Open, where he won the Open 197 title.

“Shapiro is still the No. 1 guy, we just wanted to give Francis a chance to get out there and see how he did and he did ok,” Dresser said. “But right now, we’re just ok at 197, so it was a good day for Shapiro though.”

Duggan brought some experience in with him, competing in the Cyclone Open and the Lindenwood Open. His highlight was making it to the third-place match with Shapiro at the Cyclone Open.

In his dual debut, Duggan matched up with Chattanooga’s Rodney Jones in a match where Duggan fell behind and couldn’t claw his way back.

Jones started their match out with a takedown, which Duggan escaped from. Duggan tied the score with an escape to start the second period after choosing the down position, but Jones responded with another takedown.

Duggan kept the score close with an escape to close out the second period. In the third period, Jones scored an escape after starting in the down position, then scored another takedown on Duggan. Duggan managed to escape but couldn’t find a way to take Jones down in the remaining time. Adding in the extra point for the near two minute of ride time for Jones and Duggan fell in an 8-4 decision.

Leisure and Duggan were the only two to suffer a loss for Iowa State throughout the night.

“It’s their first dual and everybody has their struggles when they first step out there,” said redshirt junior Sam Colbray. “There’s room for improvement, but it’s all technical, it’s not that they’re not tough, they were put out there for a reason.”