I see much improvement with this ISU squad and in my opinion they field their best team in the Jackson Era. Their strength will come from their homegrown products like Gadson, Moreno, Meeks, and Weatherman.
125 – Kyle Larson – I am going to take the guess that Earl Hall bumps up to 133 in order to make room in the lineup for Larson. Larson posted a 18-8 record at 125 this season and he had a couple losses to Iowa backup Phil Laux and Minnesota starter Sam Brancale. His lone Big 12 match was against Jarrod Paterson of Oklahoma which he lost 5-0. It’s not set in stone that Hall will indeed go up to 133, but I think if Hall decides to stay at 125 Larson will be too out matched at 133 and Iowa State will be faced with the same issue they had this season. Larson at 125 and Hall at 133 gives ISU the strongest dual team, and if Hall puts his work in this offseason it could also be the best lineup for NCAAs too.
133 – Earl Hall – Hall is coming off a fantastic finish to his 2013-14 season by finishing 8th on the podium and earning his first All America honor. It wasn’t an easy path either, after finishing 4th at the Big 12 conference tournament, Hall was at the mercy of the selection committee to give him an at large berth to the NCAA tournament. The committee decided to give him the at large and Hall made the most of it, crushing his way to the quarterfinals where he ran into a familiar foe UNI’s Dylan Peters. Hall came wrestled back and was able to clinch All American status before falling to another Iowa opponent, Cory Clark.Darian Cruz handed Hall his third loss of the tournament in the 7th place match.
Hall will be bumping into a weight class in which is currently experiencing a mass exodus at the top -graduating #1 Tony Ramos, #2 Tyler Graff, #3 Colon, #5 Thorn, and #7 Roth. There will be plenty of room for Hall to reach All America status again, but he will have his work cut out for him if he indeed decides to bump a weight class.
141 – John Meeks – Meeks came into ISU and wrestled for coach Kevin Jackson as a true freshman. Meeks came in the #5 overall recruit and was a fantastic land for coach Jackson and wrestling Meeks as a true freshman wasn’t a bad idea given his obvious ability, but looking back now I am sure some fans wished they had bit the bullet and let their star redshirt. After a 13-13 and no NCAA tournament for Meeks, season Jackson made the right call and redshirted John to get him ready for next season.
Meeks went 11-1 this season wrestling unattached from Iowa State with his only loss coming to former All American Chris Dardanes of Minnesota. While the fact he only has one loss is impressive, his list of victories leaves little to be desired (although he did notch a win over NAIA runner up Gustavo Martinez). It will be interesting to see how Meeks does at 141 next season and he could be one of the strongest Big 12 wrestlers at his weight. Right now Meeks did not wrestle enough matches to forecast any season predictions, but with his talent level it’s not absurd to dream of John making the stand, at least at some point.
149 – Gabe Moreno – Gabe shocked me in his Big 12 and NCAA debuts. Moreno was 15-18 entering post season tournament action, and riding a 10 match losing streak. He shocked West Virginia’s Colin Johnston with a 9-4 victory to earn his ticket to the NCAA tournament. At the tournament he again shocked many by pinning #19 ranked Spisak of Virginia and picked up another victory over Oklahoma opponent Nick Lester 5-4. Lester had previously major decisioned Moreno twice during the season.