By Anna Kayser, Photo by Nic Ryder
e’s no question that Drake Ayala has big shoes to fill, having his redshirt pulled and stepping into Iowa’s vacancy at 125 pounds after it was announced that three-time NCAA champion Spencer Lee would be sidelined for the 2021-22 season following ACL surgery.
In the realm of dominant collegiate wrestling – a slate of incredibly dominant Big Ten wrestling and a giant dual vs. Oklahoma State incoming – he’s already no stranger to tough opponents. In his first match ever at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday, Ayala fell to No. 7 Patrick McKee in a tight 8-6 decision.
But, as the recent Hawkeye starting true freshmen know, the success at Carver comes quickly. On Sunday afternoon, it did. Rated No. 14, Ayala defeated Purdue’s No. 5 Devin Schroeder by a dominant and decisive 6-1 decision.
“I wouldn’t say I was really thrown in the fire….”