Wrestling looks to hash out best lineup heading toward the end of the season


Emily Blobaum/Iowa State Daily

Iowa State redshirt sophomore Logan Breitenbach falls during a match against Arizona State’s Anthony Valencia Jan. 6. Breitenbach would go on to lose 18-1 by technical fall. 

Curran Mclaughlin

Coming off of a disappointing loss to Northern Iowa at Hilton Coliseum last Friday, rumors of Iowa State wrestling coach Kevin Jackson’s job security have fluttered through the local airwaves. 

Jackson still has the ability to prove himself this season with the Big 12 Championship and NCAA Championship tournaments showing up on the horizon of this dark season.

While many fans dwell on the horrid start that has been a 1-7 season, the ray of lights from conference and national tournaments is what every wrestler and coach in the nation looks forward to in collegiate wrestling.

In the end, the tournament season is partially what a season’s measurement hinges on.

Iowa State may be looking at an upswing to its lineup heading toward Big 12s, but at the moment, it’s still a mystery as to when certain wrestlers will return to the lineup or who will be wrestling.

The Cyclones currently have three wrestlers who did not wrestle in the previous dual against UNI: Dane Pestano at 165, Gabe Moreno at 141 and Markus Simmons at 125.

Pestano and Moreno were both out with concussion protocols, while Simmons has been kept out of the lineup with weight control issues.

Jackson said at his press conference Monday that Pestano and Moreno may both be back in the lineup soon. Pestano could be back as soon as this Friday against Oklahoma.

“I think we’re gonna have options [at 165],” Jackson said. “I think Dane, he’s back to being healthy. If his weight is under control, he’ll be a viable option.”

Jackson didn’t rule out 165-pounder Logan Breitenbach, who has been in the spot since Pestano’s injury, but said Breitenbach needs to work on his wrestling ability if he wants to keep the starting role.

“He’s got to tighten down on wrist control,” Jackson said. “You can’t give up the back points. You can’t get turned and you can’t get put on your back.”

Simmons has been ruled out at 125 this weekend, as he takes a new approach to losing weight.

Jackson hopes that getting Simmons to run and burn calories to get leaner will help with his issues cutting weight.

133-pounder Earl Hall sympathizes with Simmons, having been in the same position previously. Hall said he needs to do a better job reminding Simmons of the benefit of getting through the weight-cutting challenge.

“I need to take him under my wing seriously,” Hall said. “A couple times we’ve been together and I’ve sat down [with him to talk about it]. I need to let him know that it’ll pay off.”

To add to the lineup questions, a disappointing performance and poor sportsmanship from Harrington at 197 puts Jackson in a tough position without a clear choice at the spot.

“[Harrington’s] searching, and he’s got to have some answers,” Jackson said. “He’s got to do some soul searching and find out why he wrestles and why he really loves the sport.”

Jackson said there are several options he’s considering at 197.

The two likely options Jackson could go with at 197 includes Pat Downey and true freshman Samuel Colbray.

Jackson said he doesn’t want to put Downey at 197, which he did at the North Carolina dual. Downey could compete at the 197-weight class, but he has trained and conditioned to be at 184 this season, and Jackson said he wants to keep Downey there heading toward the conference tournament.

Colbray is a more likely replacement. The true freshman hasn’t seen much action this year due to a redshirt.

Jackson has pulled the redshirt off of Colbray recently, costing him a year of eligibility. Jackson will want to get the most use out of Colbray for that reason. 

Iowa State has not wrestled a single dual meet with its full projected lineup.

While it may be frustrating for the wrestlers, they aren’t looking to use injuries as an excuse for a poor season. Wrestling is a tough sport, and all teams have to deal with wrestling at less than 100 percent.

All Iowa State can do now is look to succeed in the tournaments that count.

“We just got to move past it and say this is the facts,” Downey said. “The record books show reality, this is what the team we were and this doesn’t have to be the team we are.”