Willie Miklus notches a senior day win, but Missouri overpowers Iowa State in season finale
AMES, Ia. — It has been a humbling few days for the Iowa State wrestling team.
Just two weeks ago, the Cyclones were riding high, having defeated Oregon State, 23-14, to secure their 10th dual victory of the season. It marked the first time since 2015-16 that they had reached double-digits in the win column.
But the final two duals of the 2018-19 regular season provided the true tests — against No. 17 Northern Iowa, and No. 6 Missouri. On Thursday, the Cyclones fell to their in-state rivals for a third straight time. On Sunday, they tripped again in a 23-15 loss to the Tigers.
“I knew on paper it was going to be a good dual meet,” Iowa State coach Kevin Dresser said afterward. “I felt like we competed pretty well.”
Sunday’s dual revealed what many already knew about this Iowa State team, which finished the regular season with a 10-4 overall record. These Cyclones beat the teams they should this year, but struggled against their more elite competition.
In the Tigers (16-1), Iowa State saw a team chasing a trophy at next month’s NCAA Championships and a barometer to help measure its progress under second-year coach Kevin Dresser. The end result was another lesson that the Cyclones are closer than they’ve been in years, but still a ways out from competing with college wrestling’s best.
Before an announced crowd of 6,738, both teams won five matches, but Missouri won the dual thanks to bonus points, a necessity for postseason success. At 133, Austin Gomez fell to John Erneste by a 22-6 technical fall. Ian Parker and Marcus Coleman both lost by fall at 141 and 174, respectively.
“Missouri is a bonus-point team,” Dresser said, “and they have a lot of guys who can light it up. They lit us up in a couple of places, and that was the difference today.
“There were a couple of places, like 133 and 141, where we have to learn how to feel funk. I told them, you know, we put schedules together to give you guys a different feel, and Missouri is a different feel than just about anybody out there because they have so much funk.”
Ultimately, Missouri collected more total match points (55-42) and takedowns (12-9) than their Cyclone counterparts on their way to victory. After Iowa State took the first two matches, the Tigers won five of the next six to effectively seal the deal.
Despite their second loss in as many duals, a few Cyclone wrestlers picked up some notable victories.
The dual began at heavyweight, where Gannon Gremmel defeated Missouri’s Zach Elam, 5-3, in overtime. Elam earned a silver medal at the Junior men’s freestyle world championships last summer. On Sunday, Gremmel forced Elam into three stall calls, then scored a takedown in the second sudden victory for his 24th win of the season.
Both Alex Mackall and Jarrett Degen defeated ranked foes at 125 and 149, respectively. Mackall used a first-period takedown to beat 23rd-ranked Dack Punke, 3-2. Degen rebounded from a 4-1 first-period deficit and scored two takedowns and a set of back points to defeat Missouri’s 4th-ranked freshman Brock Mauller, 11-4.
“I needed that one,” said Degen, who’s now 23-5 this season. “I’m ready to go. Looking forward to the Big 12 tournament.”
The night ultimately belonged to senior Willie Miklus, who was honored at the dual’s intermission for senior day. Miklus transferred to Iowa State after five years at Missouri, where he became a three-time All-American for the Tigers. On Sunday, he defeated Wyatt Koelling, 4-0, thanks to a takedown and riding-time. It is his 97th career victory.
“I loved being a Tiger,” Miklus said. “I love being a Cyclone. I love going out there and competing and representing my school. It was emotional, just having my family there, too. It was a bigger deal than I kind of let on and didn’t want to admit to before. It was huge.”
Miklus’ victory closed the dual, and he celebrated with both Missouri and Iowa State fans. It is a night he said he’ll remember forever, but that the season isn’t over yet: The Big 12 tournament is just two weeks away, and for the Cyclones, they view it as another opportunity to showcase their progress.
“We have to get extra excited during this time of the year,” Dresser said. “The guys who get extra excited — I told them, it’s kind of, you play the NFL season all year long, and then you make the playoffs and you kind of start all over and you’re 0-0 again.
“So we’re 0-0 again, and we have a chance to start over and, hopefully, much wiser.”
Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.
No. 6 Missouri 23, No. 18 Iowa State 15
285: Gannon Gremmel (ISU) dec. No. 23 Zach Elam (MIZ), 5-3 (SV2)
125: Alex Mackall (ISU) dec. No. 23 Dack Punke (MIZ), 3-2
133: No. 11 John Erneste (MIZ) tech. fall No. 7 Austin Gomez (ISU), 22-6
141: No. 4 Jaydin Eierman (MIZ) over No. 10 Ian Parker (ISU) by fall, 4:53
149: No. 8 Jarrett Degen (ISU) dec. No. 4 Brock Mauller (MIZ), 11-4
157: No. 19 Jarrett Jacques (MIZ) dec. Chase Straw (ISU), 5-2
165: No. 13 Connor Flynn (MIZ) dec. Logan Schumacher (ISU), 4-2
174: No. 2 Daniel Lewis (MIZ) over Marcus Coleman (ISU) by fall, 2:03
184: No. 14 Sam Colbray (ISU) dec. No. 18 Dylan Wisman (MIZ), 3-2
197: No. 5 Willie Miklus (ISU) dec. Wyatt Koelling (MIZ), 4-0
Rankings from Trackwrestling.