Wrestling’s Simmons takes weight class 125 by storm despite weight issues

Iowa State redshirt freshman Markus Simmons (top) wrestles Arizona State. Simmons would go on to defeat Rico 14-4 by fall. 

Curran Mclaughlin

It was the opening match for Iowa State wrestling’s Beauty and the Beast dual with Arizona State in Hilton Coliseum on Friday.

The dual was to start off with the lowest weight, 125 pounds.

Markus Simmons walked onto the mat wearing a gold singlet and his usual black tights underneath. Michael Nguyen lined up across from him.

Once the whistle blew, Simmons quickly had his leg taken away from him as Nguyen tried to score the takedown.

Simmons’ leg twisted toward him sideways as the two scrambled for position.

In a matter of seconds, Simmons went from being in danger to being the danger as he snatched Nguyen’s leg and took him to his back.

Simmons recorded the pin in 1:30 to a roaring cheer.

The victory echoes what Simmons’ first year in the Cyclones’ lineup has been like so far — explosive and sudden.

The redshirt freshman, who has a 14-4 record, is currently ranked No. 15 in the nation at 125 pounds by InterMat.

“One thing he does is he rides hard and he looks to turn, he looks to pin, he looks to dominate,” coach Kevin Jackson said. “When you’re looking to dominate, [the] wins are going to fall in place.”

Simmons constantly wrestles on the attack. He’s scored more than 10 points in six matches this season and has recorded two falls.

Simmons’ aggressive style, paired with his size, gives him a better opportunity to score on his opponents, which opens up a better possibility to scoring bonus points in duals and tournaments.

“He’s a tough, gritty type of wrestler,” volunteer assistant coach Angel Escobedo said. “He’s going to put up a lot of points and he’s not going to give up.”

Simmons keeps his plan of attack simple, stating he always has three moves in mind before the whistle blows.

Simmons said he doesn’t particularly prefer one move over another but rather looks for whatever his opponent is willing to give up. Simmons then keeps in mind the moves he wants to do to exploit those openings.

Simmons wasn’t always projected as the 125 pounder, however. Many Iowa State fans assumed last season he would fill in the spot at 133 if Earl Hall wasn’t granted his fourth year of eligibility by the NCAA.

Simmons cut down to 125 and wrestled the spot away from Kyle Larson after defeating him at the Harold Nichols Cyclone Open by technical fall.

Simmons said the coaching staff wanted him to go up from 133 to 141 during the offseason.

After summer, Simmons determined he wasn’t going to be able to gain the weight and chose to go down and contribute at 125 instead.

Simmons benefits from a size advantage at 125, but that comes with a price.

Simmons has struggled several times throughout the season with his weight, most notably missing the Midlands Championships.

The challenge for Simmons is spreading out the weight loss throughout the week to try and make his final weight cut easier.

“It’s tough trying to lose all the weight at one time,” Simmons said. “My coaches [were] just trying to stay on me and keeping it down, that way my body can get used to me being down at that weight.”

Jackson and his staff are still trying to figure out a strategy to make cutting the weight easier for Simmons but said it’s up to Simmons to make that effort to make weight.

“He’s got all the ability in the world, he just needs to stay connected to his nutrition plan,” Jackson said.