Ed note: Over the past week we have released a few of our Division III previews – and we still have plenty more of those coming – but today we will start our Division I previews for the 2015-16 season with head coach Kevin Jackson’s Iowa State Cyclones. These Division I previews are pretty meaty, our man Ben Swalla put out some really good knowledge. The truth is we had to cut it in the middle so that you, the reader, can process the information as you look forward to the season. Without further ado, check out Ben’s thoughts on 125 through 157 on the Cyclone lineup!
Kyle Larson/ Nathan Boston
It will be interesting to see who comes out at 125 spot for the Cyclones. Junior Kyle Larson has been a solid wrestler for the cyclones at 125 pounds, but up and comer Nathan Boston has high expectations. The margin will likely be close between the two, and questions have remained if Boston can make the weight after missing weight at last years southern scuffle.
Kyle Larson RsJr. – 3X IA state place winner, Fargo place winner, and 2014-15 starter.
Nathan Boston RsFr.- 3X state champion, Who’s Number 1 winner, FloNationals national champion.
Boston and Larson should be in a tight battle for the 125 pound spot. Boston provides length and an unorthodox style, while Larson is built like a spark plug and never gets out of position. The two wrestled last year in the finals of the NIACC open, with Larson getting the win 3-1.
Boston has seen limited time on the mat in Ames but has impressed in his few showings. Of note he placed second at the Harold Nichols open, only losing to eventual NCAA third placer Alan Waters in a close match. Boston also defeated Northwestern (Michigan now) standout Stephen Micic in the tournament. Boston has not seen the mat since that tournament.
Boston has not made the weight since making weight early in November last season. Speculations about weight issues arose after Boston failed to make weight for the Southern Scuffle. We suspect if Boston can hold the weight successfully for the entire season, he will be a serious threat to all comers. He was a top recruit coming out of High School and has high expectations. He will be long, lean and provide matchup problems for just about everyone.
Larson enters his third year of eligibility for the Cyclones. He competed well for the clones last year earning a 20-13 record but falling short of qualifying for nationals. Kyle went 3-2 at the Southern Scuffle last season, falling just short of placing. Larson maintains excellent position, and rarely gets out of position. Larson is a very solid and tough wrestler who will compete hard.
Big 12 Outlook
Eddie Klimara Oklahoma State- 2015 Big 12 champion, 2015 NCAA 8th place
Zeke Moisey, West Virginia- 2015 Big 12 runner up, 2015 NCAA runner up
Chasen Tolbert Utah Valley State, NCAA qualifier
Trey Andrews Northern Colorado, NCAA qualifier
Klimara and Moisey will be tough sledding for whoever competes for the Cyclones in the Big 12 Conference, but after that the weight is really pretty open. Moisey had a terrific run at the NCAA tournament, but was very beatable up until the NCAA tournament. Larson held a big lead on Klimara in the dual with Oklahoma State last season, eventually losing by one point.
Earl Hall Sr.- 2015 University National champion in freestyle, 2015 Big 12 runner up, 2015 rd. of 12 wrestler, 2015 Southern Scuffle champion, 2014 All-American (@125 8th)
Earl should have the 133 spot locked up. Other contenders would be true freshman Markus Simmons and junior Cris Lopez.
Hall comes into his senior campaign with big expectations. Earlier this spring Hall looked dynamic outscoring opponents 63-1 en route to a UWW University national title. Earl looked dynamic for most of last year, going 27-8 and capturing the 6 seed at the NCAA tournament. Earl gave eventual NCAA champ Cody Brewer of Oklahoma his only loss.
With Earl only having a year remaining, one should expect him to go out with a bang. Consistency will be key for Earl, as sometimes in his first two seasons he did not wrestle to his full capabilities. Earl has big move and explosive capabilities that few others possess.
BIG 12 Outlook
Cody Brewer, Oklahoma 2015 Big 12 and NCAA Champ
Jade Rauser, Utah Valley, 2015 NCAA qualifier
Gary Wayne Harding, Oklahoma State, 2015 Big 12 third, NCAA qualifier
Earl and returning NCAA champ Cody Brewer should be head and shoulders above the field here. Earl split with Brewer last year, pinning him in the dual but losing 10-5 in the Big 12 finals. Brewer offers a variety of attacks and a tough ride, so feeling out and getting to wrestle the champ multiple times should be beneficial for Earl. West Virginia has a big freshman class coming in, and potentially top recruit Kegan Moore could wrestle right out of the gate, but that is only speculation.
Dante Rodriguez True So.- 2015 NCAA qualifier, second place at UWW JR Greco nationals, 2015 Big 12 runner up
Rodriguez is the returning starter, but has a redshirt to burn. 4x undefeated Iowa state champion John Meeks has shown flashes of brilliance but has yet to compete at the same level consistently. Meeks could potentially be the starter here, but plans of Rodriguez and his redshirt plan is unknown.
Rodriguez comes into the season after a successful season going 19-8, and qualifying for the NCAA tournament as a true freshman. Rodriguez went 1-2 at the tournament, pinning Tyler Small in the consolations. Rodriguez redshirt was pulled relatively early in the season, and was thrown right into the fire with his first meet being in Carver-Hawkeye Arena where he lost a decision.
Rodriguez at times showed some of the green associated with being a true freshman, but also provided excitement and a fearlessness that few wrestlers can provide. He struggled some underneath, but was also a hammer on top at times. His wrestling style is relentless and he has a huge arsenal of upper body attacks. Rodriguez was second on the team in falls last season with 12.
Big 12 Outlook
Dean Heil, Oklahoma State- 2015 Big 12 champion, 2015 NCAA 4th place
Mitchell Bengston, North Dakota State – NCAA qualifier
This weight is somewhat open after Heil. Rodriguez struggled against Heil last year, losing by fall and major decision to the Cowboy. Whoever the Cyclones put on the mat at 141, expect them to be the middle to the top of the weight class.
Gabriel Moreno RsJr.- 2x NCAA qualifier, Big 12 runner up 2014, 3rd at Cliff Keen invites 2015
Moreno is the returning starter but may miss some time from an injury sustained first round last season at the Big 12 tournament. Moreno blew out his shoulder pretty bad, and battled through his first NCAA match before forfeiting his backside match. Rumors are that Moreno will miss time early in the season recovering from the shoulder injury. That leaves the door open for senior Wil Stetzel or sophomore Blayne Briceno.
Moreno has to be coming into this season with a sour taste in his mouth after ending last season with an injury. Moreno looked great most of last season, mounting a 26-7 record and placing third at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas invite. Gabe earned the #9 seed but was clearly hampered by a shoulder injury at the NCAA tournament, and forfeited his backside match after taking injury time twice in his first match.
Moreno looks to be solid this season, and could be a legitimate threat to All-American. Gabe took some All-Americans to the limit last season and needs to stay healthy to compete to his full capabilities. Moreno offers a variety of attacks from an underhook, and can be an excellent rider and scrambler.
Big 12 Outlook
Anthony Collica, Oklahoma State- 2015 Big 12 Champ (157), UWW University National champ, 2x NCAA qualifier (made rd. of 12 twice)
Collica looks to be the only known threat to Gabe, and down a weight, the Cowboy should be rock solid. Collica won a UWW University National title with legit wins over household names Brandon Sorenson and Jason Tsirtsis. Gabe should be towards the top of this list for Big 12 wrestlers.
Logan Breitenbach RsFr– 2x Maryland state champ, 2x Fargo All-American
Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer RsFr– 4th Place UWW University Nationals, 3x Fargo All-American, Fargo Greco champ, 2x NHSCA champ
157 could be an interesting weight. We would expect Breitenbach and Rodriguez-Spencer to compete for the starting spot, and off high school accomplishments Rodriguez-Spencer has more. However there could be other contenders here, like 149 pounder Blayne Briceno. The Cyclones have some depth here, but mostly with younger wrestlers.
Rodriguez has shown flashes of brilliance, but had some head scratching results as expected from a true freshman. Rodriguez-Spencer is incredibly athletic and offers a variety of attacks from the outside that will be difficult for just about anyone to stop. Rodriguez defeated atleast one NCAA All-American in Richard Durso in his run to fourth place at UWW University nationals.
Breitenbach offers a much more physical style of wrestling, and will wrestle a high pace for 7 minutes. Breitenbach saw some good results in his redshirt campaign, but again offered some moments you would expect from a true freshman. Breitenbach should be right in the mix of things with Rodriguez-Spencer.
Im sure that the Cyclones have very high expectations for whoever starts at 157, but without a huge sample size, it is tough to gauge what to expect from either redshirt freshman. Both were highly touted recruits out of high school, and definitely have the potential to do some serious damage. However expecting them to be All-Americans or ranking either wrestler right out of the gate just isn’t realistic for the time being.
Big 12 Outlook
Chance Marstellar, RsFr. Oklahoma State- Southern Scuffle 4th place finisher, 4x PA state champ, 4x PowerAde champ
Cody Pack, RsSr South Dakota State- Western Regional champ, 5 seed at NCAAs, Midlands’s runner-up
Archie Colgan, RsSo Wyoming- UWW JR. National Champion
The new Big 12 should provide some pretty good depth at 157, with some heralded wrestlers. I would expect whoever takes the mat for the Cyclones to be towards the middle of the pack with a chance at reaching the top. Pack had a terrific season last year, but didn’t manage a good performance at the NCAAs. Chance Marstellar is an internet legend and one of the most sought recruits in years, but questions remain if he can hold the 157 pound weight class. Colgan failed to qualify for the NCAA tournament as a freshman, but looked terrific in running the gauntlet at the UWW JR National Championships. If the Cyclones can get a boost from this weight and score some points at NCAAs, it would greatly benefit the Cyclones.