Weatherspoon hits mat running after injury


Sam Greene/Iowa State Daily

Redshirt sophomore Lelund Weatherspoon fights to get Penn freshman Joe Heyob onto the mat. Weatherspoon won the match to finish off Iowa State’s 41-3 victory.

Beau Berkley

For the last month or so, Lelund Weatherspoon has had two things on his mind: Rehab, wrestle. Rehab, wrestle. 

And now, as the ISU wrestling team prepares for Virginia Tech on Jan. 18, the 184-pound NCAA qualifier can focus on the latter half of the combination. 

After turning in a dominating 19-3 tech fall win against Penn’s Joe Heyob on Jan. 11, Weatherspoon showed he’s back at full strength at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invite after sitting out of competition since Dec. 6. During the tournament in Las Vegas, Weatherspoon had won two matches and was working his way through the consolation side of the bracket before pulling out of the competition due to some “knee issues.”

Weatherspoon became relegated to an observer after that, rehabbing with teammate 165-pounder Michael Moreno, who also sat out the same span of time. Having Moreno at his side as a rehab partner helped keep Weatherspoon focused he said, relying on his leaders to get where he wanted to be. 

Weatherspoon said that the one thought he never let enter his mind was frustration. 

“It hurts because you want to get out there and try and get better,” Weatherspoon said of his time away. “Everything going through my head was just get [healthier] and come back and compete even higher.” 

Luke Goettl, a 157-pound redshirt senior, said Weatherspoon is always staying calm in situations that might lend themselves to frustration.

“Lelund’s one of the coolest headed people I know,” Goettl said. “He keeps it calm, cool and he knew when he was ready. He and Mike both worked real hard when they were injured and it looked like they came back strong.”

Strong is one way to put it.

Weatherspoon scored a technical fall against his opponent, while Moreno recorded a pin.

But a slight tweak was made to any plans Weatherspoon and the wrestling staff may had made for his return. He was set to take on Penn’s Lorenzo Thomas, who is ranked No. 5 by Intermat, but Thomas wasn’t the wrestler Weatherspoon ended up shaking hands with before the whistle.

But it didn’t matter, as Weatherspoon cruised to what seemed like a stressless, painless victory. ISU wrestling coach Kevin Jackson said that he thought Weatherspoon looked fresh and his technical skills and effort on top echoed that.

As for the minor pre-match tweak, Weatherspoon just played it cool.  

“We prepared for the other kid and for him to shrug that off and still go execute, that’s the kind of match he wanted to wrestle against Thomas,” Jackson said. “That’s the way he wanted to perform in that match, so I thought he looked really good.”