ISU wrestling feeds off veteran leadership, young talent


Blake Lanser/Iowa State Daily

Lelund Weatherspoon, 184-pound redshirt sophomore from Jackson, Mich., sets himself during media day on Oct. 20.

Beau Berkley

Lelund Weatherspoon’s nerves were starting to get the best of him prior to his first career match in Hilton Coliseum last season.

Just as 165-pounder Michael Moreno was running off the mat after his match, he stopped in front of Weatherspoon. Moreno asked him what was wrong.

“I’m a little nervous,” Weatherspoon said. 

Moreno looked Weatherspoon in the eye and slapped him across the chest. “What do you have to be nervous about?” Moreno asked, slapping Weatherspoon across the chest again. “You’ve been practicing with guys like me and Kyven [Gadson].” 

It was leadership like Moreno’s that helped Weatherspoon win a 2014 Big 12 title at 184 pounds, and it’s that same type of leadership that will be a main factor for this year’s ISU wrestling squad. 

“Coming in, I practiced with Mike Moreno, Kyven Gadson, Boaz Beard and Tanner Weatherman, so it was like I got a feel for what they all did, and I mimic what I do from them,” Weatherspoon said. “Their work habit, just going hard every day in practice and being mentally tough.”

The guys Weatherspoon used to try and hang with will be the same guys he leads this season. All-Americans Moreno, Gadson and Earl Hall all return, as well as Gabe Moreno, who qualified for the NCAA tournament for the first time last season, and two-time NCAA qualifiers Weatherman and Luke Goettl. 

A talented group of underclassmen will look to benefit from the wide gamut of experience and leadership, including redshirt sophomore John Meeks at 133 pounds, who redshirted after competing as a true freshman. 

Goettl, who is projected to wrestle at 157 pounds this year, will have to compete against Blayne Briceno and Daniel Woiwor, both redshirt freshmen, in order to solidify his starting role. 

“You’ve got the younger guys in here that are just really talented, and they push us older guys every single day. They’re trying to score takedowns on us, and that makes us take it to that next level,” Goettl said.

Hall echoed Goettl’s sentiment, saying that both the underclassmen and upperclassmen benefit from having each other around.

“The young guys motivate the older guys,” Hall said. “They know we have young talent in here, and we all know the young guys are really good, so we have to step up our game, and whatever they do we have to perform above that and show that we’re still the leaders, we’re still going to carry this program.”