Earl Hall works for a score on Iowa's Cory Clark
Earl Hall returns to the Cyclone lineup this weekend

Who: Iowa State vs. Northern Colorado and Wyoming
Date: Saturday, November 26th and November 27th, 2016
Time: 3:00 PM and 3:00 PM
Location: Colorado and Wyoming
Online: The Wyoming dual will be broadcast on Flowrestling ($)

The Cyclones hit the road for a two dual road trip looking for their first victory of the season. The Cyclones kicked their year off with a road trip to the Dakotas which resulted in an 0-2 start. The good news is that the Cyclones now have All-American Earl Hall back in the lineup at 133 and should be getting back senior Gabe Moreno at 141.

First up for the Cyclones will be a solid Northern Colorado team coached by former Cyclone assistant Troy Nickerson. Northern Colorado is 0-1 on the season in duals and have yet to face a Big 12 opponent. Wrestle Stat projections have the Cyclones winning the dual coming out on top in eight of the ten matches, but if the Bears were to steal a match it could come at either 141 or 165 where Timmy Box is a fringe top 20 wrestler and Keilan Torres is a solid wrestler who is looking to establish himself at 165.

After downing teammate Kyle Larson in a stunning 17-0 technical fall at the Cyclone Open, Markus Simmons is emerging as someone who is not only ready to take over the 125-pound spot in the Iowa State lineup, but his early season results suggest he’s not afraid to go out and score some points. Right now Wrestle Stat projects this match going to the Cyclones, but up until this week it had Trey Andrews coming out on top. This should be a good test to affirm that Simmons is trending toward being a contributor for this team.

For now, it sounds as though Chase Straw will be making the trip at 149 for the Cyclones instead of Blayne Briceno. Briceno was the team’s starter for the SDSU and NDSU duals, and is coming off a top six finish at the Cyclone Open This past weekend Straw was the UNK Holiday Open champion pinning teammate John Meeks in the finals. It appears coach Jackson has not shut the door on the 149-pound competition.

While Simmons’s stellar performance at the Cyclone Open was a high point for ISU, the low was when All-American Pat Downey was forced to medically forfeit from the Open after winning his first two matches. Given Downey’s injury history in the 2015-16 season and the goal to be healthy in March, it won’t be a surprise to see Downey sit these two duals in hopes of getting back to 100%. We expect Carson Powell to be the starter this weekend.

At 197 it sounds as though sophomore Marcus Harrington may be ready to return to the mat, but freshman Joe Teague is expected to travel with the team as well. Harrington has been dealing with an undisclosed injury, but being listed as a probable is a good sign for the weekend. Northern Colorado’s Jacob Seely will probably be the toughest competition at 197 this weekend so we will know how ready Harrington is if he goes on Saturday, or Jackson opts to easy him back into the lineup with Sunday’s dual against Wyoming.

The Cyclones should also see the return of heavyweight starter Quean Smith, which is another huge boost for the Cyclone lineup. After starting the season with Nick Nolting, the Cyclones had to use true freshman Sammy Colbray at heavyweight in the NDSU dual after Nolting suffered an injury. With Smith and Harrington returning, the Cyclone are close to fielding their full lineup.

Dual Breakdowns

Wrestle Stat Prediction
Iowa State 0-2 (0-2) Northern Colorado 0-1 (0-0) WS Predcition
125 Markus Simmons (DEC) vs Trey Andrews 3-0 ISU
133 #5 Earl Hall (MD) vs Rico Montoya 7-0 ISU
141 Gabe Moreno (DEC) vs Timmy Box 10-0 ISU
149 Chase Straw (MD) vs Ben Polkowske 14-0 ISU
157 Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer (DEC) vs Jimmy Fate 17-0 ISU
165 #19 Dane Pestano (DEC) vs Keilan Torres 20-0 ISU
174 #14 Lelund Weatherspoon (MD) vs Tanner Davis 24-0 ISU
184 Carson Powell vs Dylan Gabel (DEC) 24-3 ISU
197 Joe Teague vs Jacob Seeley (DEC) 24-6 ISU
285 Quean Smith (TF) vs Jack Kuck (DEC) 29-6 ISU

As you can see Wrestle Stat projects this match to be a bit of a blowout calling for a 29-6 win. No offense to the big man, but technical falls don’t usually occur at heavyweight so that match might be a bit of an outlier. The two projected Northern Colorado wins come at the weight were ISU doesn’t have their projected starter, but note that a healthy Harrington is projected to beat Seely. If everything goes according to paper, the Cyclones should get their first dual victory on Saturday.

Moving on to the next dual the Cyclones will head north to face a Wyoming team coming off a big loss to Nebraska this past weekend. Not only did the Huskers put up a big win on Wyoming, but the Cowboys top wrestler, Bryce Meredith, dropped his match 6-2 to Colton McCrystal in a bit of a stunner.

Other notes for this dual are Drew Templeman could give Iowa State a ranked meeting at 133 if he competes against Earl Hall (Moreno was removed from the rankings and should be back once he makes his season debut). Additionally, Branson Ashworth is coming off a solid win over Nebraska’s Dustin Williams who is a fringe top 20-type wrestler.

Wrestle Stat Prediction
Iowa State 0-2 (0-2) Wyoming 0-1 (0-0)
WS Predcition
125 Markus Simmons (MD) vs Gunnar Woodburn 4-0 ISU
133 #5 Earl Hall (DEC) vs #13 Drew Templeman 7-0 ISU
141 Gabe Moreno (DEC) vs #11 Bryce Meredith 10-0 ISU
149 Chase Straw vs Cole Mendenhall (DEC) 10-3 ISU
157 Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer vs Archie Colgan (DEC) 10-6 ISU
165 #19 Dane Pestano vs Branson Ashworth (DEC) 10-9 ISU
174 #14 Lelund Weatherspoon (MD) vs Kyle Pope 14-9 ISU
184 Carson Powell (MD) vs Luke Paine 18-9 ISU
197 Marcus Harrington (DEC) vs Cody Vigoren 21-9 ISU
285 Quean Smith (MD) vs Sam Eagan 25-9 ISU

Wrestle Stat also has this dual going to the Cyclones, with the computer projection even going as far as picking Moreno to upset Meredith. Wyoming should prove to be a little bit stiffer competition than Northern Colorado, so the margin for error will be smaller. Even if Meredith comes out on top at 141, the computer also picked Branson Ashworth to upset Pestano.

The biggest takeaway from this dual could be the fact that Iowa State finally has all of their lower weights back in the lineup. The emergence of Simmons coupled with the return of Hall and Moreno really gives the Cyclones some punch at the top of the lineup. The potential return of Harrington and Smith make this potential dual win go from comfortable into win with ease territory. If this dual goes to paper like above the Cyclones will be sitting at .500 after a rocky start to the year.

By Ross Bartachek (@rossbchek)

Lead Editor of IA Wrestle