Who: Iowa State vs. Arizona State
Date: Friday, January 6th
Time: 6:30 PM
Location: Hilton Coliseum – Ames, Iowa
Online: Cyclones TV ($)

Sam Janicki - SJanicki Photo
Sam Janicki – SJanicki Photo

Coming off a 12th place finish at the Midlands, Kevin Jackson and his Iowa State Cyclone squad will open their 2017 portion of the schedule at home with a non-conference dual against Arizona State. The Cyclones were able to get medalists from returning All-Americans Earl Hall (133) and Lelund Weatherspoon (174), and also saw true freshman Kanen Storr (141) make the stand in his first trip to the Midlands tournament. These two teams have met on an annual basis for many years with ISU enjoying a great deal of success against the Sun Devils. In fact, last season’s 23-18 defeat was the first time the Cyclones had dropped a meeting against ASU since the 2003-04 season.

With the Cyclones returning to the Midlands it provided us with the opportunity to see three head-to-head matchups between the two teams, and unfortunately for ISU their ASU opponents were able to come out on top with bonus in all three meetings. Nicholas Villarreal and Anthony Valencia earned falls over Gabe Moreno (141) and Dane Pestano (165) respectively, while Zahid Valenica picked up a 11-2 major decision over Weatherspoon in the finals.

Keys for an Iowa State Victory
1. Avoid the bonus losses from the Midlands meetings
2. Pat Downey’s health
3. Colston DiBlasi’s funk

We are switching up the preview format with the “Keys to Victory”. On paper this is a dual matchup that could be decided by just a couple points and when the margins are tight coming into a dual one team or the other is looking for the breaks to go their way. The first key is to avoid repeating the results from the Midlands. While ASU is going to be favored in at 141, 165, 174 if the dual results match the Midlands results it will be handing the Sun Devils an extra seven points. Those types of outcomes could put the dual out of reach for the Cyclones.

We could see John Meeks at 141 instead of Moreno, which could be part of the solution to the first key. Moreno has struggled since his return to injury and had to medical forfeit out of the Midlands. Meeks hasn’t produced a ton of success at 141 for the Cyclones, but his bonus losses stack up a little bit better than his counterpart. Realistically the result at 174 could change too, with Weatherspoon already avenging one of the losses he received earlier in the year, taking out Iowa’s Alex Meyer at the Midlands.

The second key would be the hopeful return of All-American Pat Downey (184) who has been out of the Cyclone lineup since mid-November. Downey would be an instant catalyst for his team, and his ability to score bonus points would be a large boon for the Cyclones in this dual. If his injury is cleared up this would be the first time that the Iowa State could feature it’s full lineup. Downey weighed in and was reportedly ready to go for the Iowa dual in mid-December and with ASU still looking for someone to emerge at 184, this would be an excellent opportunity for Iowa State to post a big win.

The final key to victory has to deal with the funk master himself, Colston DiBlasi (157). With a 16-9 record on the season, DiBlasi has recorded 11 falls (you read the right) and is currently tied with Gabe Dean for the lead in NCAA Division I wrestling (Yup, that’s a fact too). His opponent will be Josh Shields, who is coming off a phenomenal performance at the Midlands where he took third. DiBlasi loves to wrestle in uncomfortable positions and has already made strides this season. In November he lost a 14-2 major decision to Wisconsin freshman Evan Wick, but avenged the loss this past weekend by winning 7-1. If DiBlasi manages to steal a favored win at 157, and with his funk potentially a bonus win, it could be enough to help ISU come out on top in the dual.

**The below projections are the computer generated predictions from Wrestle Stat**

Wrestle Stat Prediction
Trackwrestling Rankings
  Iowa State   Arizona State WS Predcition
125 #15 Markus Simmons (DEC) vs Josh Kramer 3-0 ISU
133 #13 Earl Hall  (DEC) vs #25 Ali Naser 6-0 ISU
141 John Meeks vs Nicholas Villarreal (DEC) 6-3 ISU
149 #24 Chase Straw vs #20 Josh Maruca (DEC) 6-6 TIE
157 Colston DiBlasi vs #7 Josh Shields (DEC) 9-6 ASU
165 Dane Pestano vs #9 Anthony Valencia (MD) 13-6 ASU
174 #8 Lelund Weatherspoon vs #3 Zahid Valencia (DEC) 16-6 ASU
184 #10 Pat Downey (FALL) vs Conner Small 16-12 ASU
197 Marcus Harrington (TF) vs Austyn Harris 17-16 ISU
285 #25 Quean Smith vs #8 Tanner Hall (DEC) 19-17 ASU

All three keys are in play looking at Wrestle Stat’s projections. If DiBlasi steals 157 from ASU the Cyclones should be in a position to win the dual.

By Ross Bartachek (@rossbchek)

Lead Editor of IA Wrestle