The Cyclones returned to the top ten this week on the strength of their 21-12 win over then #6 Virginia Tech last weekend. The competition doesn't get any easier this week, as the #7 Oklahoma State Cowboys come up to Ames for the second half of a weekend road trip that began with a 22-10 loss against #3 Missouri on Friday night. This might be the most important dual of the season. On the line are several NCAA allocations, NCAA seeding battles, Big XII bragging rights, and the opportunity for the program to show that they are back in the conversation as a top team.
|Iowa State Cyclones Wrestler
|Oklahoma State Cowboys Wrestler
|UR/#30 Kyle Larson
|#10/8 Eddie Klimara
|#6/6 Earl Hall
|Gary Wayne Harding
|UR/#26 Dante Rodriguez
|#18/18 Dean Heil
|#13/11 Gabe Moreno
|#4/4 Josh Kindig
|UR/#27 Luke Goettl
|UR/#20 Anthony Collica
|#4/4 Micheal Moreno
|#1/1 Alex Dieringer
|#10/11 Tanner Weatherman
|UR/#16 Kyle Crutchmer
|#17/17 Lelund Weatherspoon
|#15/9 Nolan Boyd
|#3/3 Kyven Gadson
|#5/5 Austin Marsden
(Rankings from Intermat // 1/22/15 NCAA Coaches Panel)
125: Once again, Larson will be matched up against a top ten wrestler and asked to not give up bonus points. Larson is very skilled at slowing down matches without getting dinged for stalling and I think he'll be up to the task. If we're going to get the upset, we have to keep this match to a decision.
133: In the flipside of the situation at 125, Hall is going to be looking for bonus points at 133. Harding has not given up a major decision yet all season (though he has been pinned a couple of times) so Hall needs to look a lot better than he did against Virginia Tech and push the action early. I wouldn't mind seeing a gator roll attempt or two either. The six points from a pin would go a long way in this dual.
141: This is a big match for Dante. A win over Heil would push him from a borderline NCAA qualifier into a likely NCAA qualifier, as it would give him a bump in the next coaches panel and keep him on track to be above 0.700 for his D-1 win percentage. Aside from what Dante stands to gain individually, from a team perspective we need to win the toss up matches in order to win the dual, so a win at 141 is essential to keep the score on track for a victory.
149: Kindig isn't unbeatable, and a win would be nice to help out Gabe Moreno when it comes time to determine NCAA seeding. But the higher priority here should be to avoid giving up bonus points. If Moreno keeps this to a decision that is a win for the team.
157: This match is similar to 141, where a win is just as important for the implications to Goettl's NCAA chances as it is for a team win in this dual. Just like Dante, Goettl is on the borderline right now for earning a spot and a win over Collica, who was 20th in the first coaches panel, would give him a nice bump in the rankings and keep him on track for a >0.700 D1 win percentage.
165: Mike Moreno really doesn't have anything to lose here. Dieringer is the commanding favorite for the title at 165 and Moreno will see him again at least once, at the Big XII championships. So while a win would be nice, I'm more interested in just seeing that he can compete with Dieringer and expose some flaws that the staff can pick apart on film in preparation for the an anticipated NCAA finals rematch.
174: At the Southern Scuffle Weatherman faced both of Oklahoma State's 174 pounders and went 1-1 against them. He lost 3-1 to Kyle Crutchmer in what was probably his worst match of the year and eeked out a 10-8 win in overtime against Jordan Rogers. It looks like Crutchmer is going to get the call for the dual and that'll give Weatherman a shot at avenging his loss. Even though Weatherman lost the first time around I think he's the favorite in this match and can pick up a win to keep the team on track for victory.
184: Last season Weatherspoon went 1-1 against Boyd. Losing in overtime in a dual but picking up a 4-3 win at Big XIIs with an NCAA spot on the line. This year Boyd seems greatly improved, with several top ten wins and no bad losses. So despite being ranked only slightly above Lelund I'd consider Boyd to be a heavy favorite. That said, I don't think we've seen the best of Lelund yet this year and a win would be a nice springboard into the last month of the regular season. Barring the upset, it is just important the Lelund not give up any bonus points.
197: Just like Hall at 133, Kyven gets an unranked opponent from Olahoma State and he needs to control the match and score some bonus.
HWT: Quean seems to pick it up a notch when facing opponents from the state of Oklahoma, and last time he wrestled Marsden he kept it close in an 0-2 loss. He'll need to do the same here if ISU is going to keep the upset chances alive.
This could end up being the Cyclones second straight win over a top ten team, but only if things go their way. If Oklahoma State wins all the close matches this could quickly turn in to a long afternoon. Iowa State is only outright favored at 133, 174, and 197. While Oklahoma State is heavily favored at 125, 149, 165, and Heavyweight. But the other three matches, 141, 157, and 184, all could go either way. If we win two of those three matches then it goes to bonus points, where I think ISU has the edge. And if we win all three then ISU can come away with a comfortable 19-13 or so win.
Iowa State will be on the road next weekend to take on the Oklahoma Sooners in Norman on Saturday, January 31st.