With the season quickly approaching it’s a good time to take a look at the preseason rankings and likely lineup combinations for the wrestlers. The Cyclones return last year’s starters at 125, 133, 157, 174, and HWT as well as three more members of last year’s varsity team who are moving down one or more weights. In fact, if you include part time starters from prior seasons 149 pounds is the only weight where the wrestling staff expects a completely new face to take the mat. So this season’s lineup will look pretty familiar when they take the mat in Hilton.
The Cyclones will kick off the season next Friday, Nov 4th with a dual against South Dakota State. To tide you over in the meantime, here’s Coach Jackson’s thoughts from Media Day via trackwrestling.
Iowa State returns NCAA Qualifier Kyle Larson at 125. Larson is unranked by all three services. However, ISU took in a transfer at this weight from Purdue during the offseason. That transfer, Joe Marmelojo, hopes to challenge Larson for the 125 starting spot. They’ll be wrestling off for a spot in the lineup at this evening’s intra-squad meet at Leid. Additionally Markus Simmons, who was expected to be at 133, is in the process of cutting down to 125 and should be a strong contender to take this spot later in the season if he’s able to successfully hold the weight.
Earl Hall was expected to leave Iowa State after last season to make room for Markus Simmons at this weight. But he was given an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA and will start the season ranked 5th by all three services and Simmons has decided to try to make 125 rather than spend this year on the bench. So instead, look for Nathan Boston to move down from 141 and push Hall for the 133 spot.
The NCAA is requiring Hall to miss the first few meets as part of their decision to give him eligibility this year so it will be interesting to see whether Simmons or Boston gets the call to fill in at 133 while Hall waits to become eligible.
Gabe Moreno is reported to be attempting to make the cut back down to 141 for his senior season and is ranked 14th by Intermat at this weight. However, it doesn’t sound like he’ll be making the weight to start the season so John Meeks will likely hold down the spot until Moreno is ready to take the mat.
Flowrestling and The Open mat have Moreno ranked 17th and 16th, respectively, at this weight as their rankings came out before Moreno’s plan to cut down was announced. Assuming Moreno is able to make the cut to 141 this weight will likely either be manned by freshman Chase Straw or from someone like John Meeks moving up from 141.
Last season Logan Breitenbach and Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer both spent time in the lineup. Rodriguez-Spencer will likely start the season as the 157 starter as Breitenbach is reportedly recovering from a staph infection but once he becomes healthy it might be another season of the two of them splitting time. Neither he nor Breitenbach is ranked to start the season.
With Tanner Weatherman graduating and Patrick Downey dropping to 184, NCAA qualifier Dane Pestano is intending to make the drop to 165 for the season. He’ll be challenged for the spot by freshman Colston DiBlasi. Neither are ranked to start the season but if Pestano is able to hold the cut and stay effective look for him to start showing up in the rankings by midseason.
The Cyclones return All-American Lelund Weatherspoon at this weight. Lelund spent most of last season ranked in the teens but had a very successful NCAA tournament that ended with a spot on the awards podium. The ranking services all seem to agree that his performance in March wasn’t a fluke and The Open Mat has Lelund ranked 6th to start the year while both FloWrestling and Intermat have him 7th.
All-American Pat Downey will be returning to his natural weight of 184 pounds this season and is ranked 6th by Intermat, 7th by Flowrestling, and 9th by The Open Mat to start the season. 184 is a stacked weight this season but it should be fun to see what a healthy Downey can do when not wrestling up a weight.
Marcus Harrington had a short and disappointing season last year before eventually losing the starting spot to Downey. However, when looking back at his season after the fact it turned out that he had some really nice wins over ranked wrestlers and that most of his losses were to guys who ended the season ranked. The ranking services noticed that and Flowrestling has him tagged at 17th to start the season while Intermat and The Open Mat both put him at 19th.
Quean Smith spent last season once again not quite breaking through to become a ranked wrestler and that’s reflected in his lack of a ranking in the preseason. It’s worth noting here that even though Smith is listed as the only “probable starter” in ISU’s preseason wrestling notes he will not be wrestling in the intra-squad meet on Friday. Instead the heavyweight match will be between freshman Nick Nolting and Alex Silberstein. Since the intra-squad meet schedule doesn’t officially note which matches are exhibition and which matches are wrestle-offs this may or may not indicate that we could see a new face at HWT this season.