Notebook: Cyclone seedings, Rodriguez’s first NCAA trip


Freshman Dante Rodriguez works for position against Northern Iowa’s Jake Hodges on Feb. 15 at Hilton Coliseum.

Beau Berkley

Much like rankings, seedings are not the end all be all when it comes to which wrestler is better than the other. But unlike rankings, seedings can make life a little easier. 

The ISU wrestling team travels to St. Louis on Thursday touting six returning qualifiers and three All-Americans. Not only that, but five of the six past NCAA qualifiers garnered top 10 seeds, the only wrestler landing outside of the top 10 being No. 13 Tanner Weatherman. 

Returning All-Americans Michael Moreno and Kyven Gadson both earned top three seeds, with Earl Hall falling just short of that at the No. 6 seeds. 

Hall said he looks at his own seed and who he might draw in the later rounds, but that’s the extent of it. 

“I don’t really care about who’s No. 1 or who’s No. 2, I just look at everybody in front of me and in my mind I’m No. 1, ” Hall said. 

However, Hall’s No. 6 seeding may have played more in his favor than anybody else could have thought. 

“I mean, six is my favorite number and the last time I was seeded No. 6 [at a tournament] I won the tournament,” Hall said.

Rodriguez’s first round

This time last year, Dante Rodriguez was still roaming the halls of his high school.

Now the 141 pounder for ISU wrestling, Rodriguez, a true freshman, will make his first trip to the NCAA tournament. Rodriguez has compiled an 18-6 record since besting John Meeks for the 141 spot and is currently tied with Kyven Gadson for the most pins on the season with 11. 

If Rodriguez were to earn All-American honors he would be the first true freshman to do so since Jim Gibbons finished in fourth place at the 1982 NCAA tournament. 

But Rodriguez says he doesn’t think of any of that, in fact, it’s likely he won’t even think about the fact he’s at the NCAA tournament. 

“When I got my redshirt taken away, I let it get to me that ‘wow, I’m in the lineup, this is crazy,’ and I guess I didn’t wrestle to my best at Iowa and from that I said this can’t affect me, this isn’t how I usually I am,” Rodriguez said. “I don’t usually get nervous and I try to think about something else. Yeah, it’s nationals and it’s going to be my first time there … but I’m just going to have to wrestle and be me.”

Also benefitting Rodriguez is the wealth of experience traveling alongside him to nationals. Six returning NCAA qualifiers will join Rodriguez on his first campaign at the NCAA’s. 

ISU coach Kevin Jackson said that the veteran experience comes not just from making it to the tournament, but not making it into something it is not. 

“It’s a tournament against guys you’ve been wrestling all year long,” Jackson said. “Don’t look at it as the national championship, look at it as a tournament that’s mean’t for you to win and I don’t think it matters to Dante. We’re going to get the same Dante that we’ve seen all year long.”