ISU wrestling takes individual approach at NCAA Tournament


Senior Kyven Gadson works to flip his opponent onto his back.

Beau Berkley

What some might call March Madness, Kyven Gadson calls controlled chaos. Amid the chaos of 10 different 32-man brackets, it can be said that Gadson can only control one thing: himself. 

So goes the mentality of the ISU wrestling squad as seven Cyclone combatants will take to the mat Thursday morning at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis. 

“I know who’s in the bracket, I also know I can only control one person and that’s Kyven Gadson, so that’s all I’m looking to do is worry about myself, control myself.” Gadson said. 

Gadson is one of six ISU wrestlers familiar to the NCAA tournament, the lone wrestler making his first trip is true freshman Dante Rodriguez. Gadson is also one of three ISU wrestlers seeded in the top six, the other two being Michael Moreno, seeded No. 2 at 165 pounds, and Earl Hall, seeded No. 6 at 133 pounds. 

All three are returning All-Americans from last year’s tournament, but not to be forgotten is 174 pounder Tanner Weatherman, who will be making his third appearance at the tournament. 

The last two years, Weatherman has fallen one match short of earning All-American status. Heading into his third shot at the podium, his goals are loftier than his first go around. 

“I expect a little more out of myself. I’m going in there to win the tournament, where as freshman year I don’t know if I maybe thought that [way],” Weatherman said.

But after three years, Weatherman has also come to realize the value of focusing on himself and not all of the mayhem surrounding him. It’s an asset that all ISU wrestlers hold heading into the tournament: focus on the individual and the team success will follow.

The first year for sure I would watch other matches and get my heart rate up, get nervous for other guys wrestling and [some] guys that weren’t even on the team,” Weatherman said. “We’ve really worked on that as a team and we don’t even watch the matches.”

This will be Iowa State’s first return to action since the Big 12 tournament, which resulted in five of the six finalist losing their championship bouts, the only champion for the Cyclones being Gadson.

But the past is in the past. The Cyclones have had two weeks to put the collapse at the conference championships to bed and focus on the task at hand, something that ISU coach Kevin Jackson said he expects his team to do. 

“I think we put too much pressure on ourselves heading into the Big 12’s to win that title,” Jackson said. “Our guys wrestle their best at the NCAA Championship and we expect them to put the Big 12’s behind them and perform like they’re supposed to perform.”