ISU wrestling heals during break between tournaments


Richard Martinez/Iowa State Daily

Redshirt sophomore Gabe Moreno earns a takedown against Iowa’s Brandon Sorensen. Moreno gave up an escape late in the third period, losing the close 149-pound match 7-6 in the Cy-Hawk Series duel took place on Nov. 29 in Iowa City. The No. 15 Cyclones struggled to secure close matches, falling to rival No. 1 Iowa 28-8.

Beau Berkley

Go out and wrestle, eat a bagel, hang out, repeat. That’s how Gabe Moreno likes his tournaments. 

Unfortunately for Moreno, he’ll have to put the bagels on hold until the Cyclones’ next tournament, the Southern Scuffle, on Jan. 1 in Chattanooga, Tenn. But for now, he and his teammates have some time off to deal with some health issues and reflect on last week’s Cliff Keen Invite in Las Vegas. 

Out of a field of 39 teams, Iowa State finished fourth with five grapplers finishing in the top four of their weight classes, including three third place winners and a first place winner Kyven Gadson, who bested No. 1 ranked Scott Schiller out of Minnesota. 

Tanner Weatherman finished third at 174 pounds, his only loss coming to No.1 ranked Robert Kokesh of Nebraska. Weatherman said the break in tournaments is welcomed, especially at this point in the season. 

“You know where you’re at, know where you stand, what you need to worry about and what you need to improve,” Weatherman said. 

ISU coach Kevin Jackson cited a few weights he thought had a shot at making the podium, with 184 pounder and NCAA qualifier Lelund Weatherspoon among them. Weatherspoon was knocked to the consolation brackets the first night of competition and later dropped out of the tournament due to an injury. 

Jackson also said he was surprised that true freshman Dante Rodriguez did not medal at 141 pounds. Rodriguez picked up what might have been his first big victory of his short career when he defeated No. 11 Mark Grey of Cornell. 

Jackson said his team will use the time off between matches to heal some injuries sustained since the beginning of the season, as well as a chance to focus more on academics as finals week looms. 

“We pulled guys out of the Cyclone open because we didn’t what to suffer these kind of injuries that early in the season, but now we’ve got a couple guys banged up at the Vegas tournament, so it gives us time to get fresh again and get stronger,” Jackson said.

Looking down the competition line, the Cyclones have one more tournament in the Southern Scuffle before jumping right into the thick of dual competition with a home opener against Penn on Jan. 11. Moreno said he’s a fan of the pace of competition at tournaments as opposed to duals. 

“I’m a big tournament guy instead of duals just because I love the idea of you’re wrestling seven minutes against a tough kid, go eat a bagel, chill for a second and 30 minutes later you’re wrestling a really tough kid for another seven minutes,” Moreno said. “In the end, the placings don’t always reflect who’s the better wrestler, it’s who’s tougher and who wants to wrestle more.”

Weatherman doesn’t claim to like one over the other when it comes to tournaments and duals, but preparing for one match after wrestling six certainly has its advantages. 

“Tournaments definitely help your confidence. I had six matches this [past] weekend, with three, maybe four ranked guys and I got through that and took third,” Weatherman said. “So, training for one dual with the mindset of wrestling six matches makes it easy [when] you’re training for one match.”