Iowa State wrestlers start strong, finish slow in 19-15 win over No. 13 Arizona State

Cody Goodwin
Des Moines Register

AMES — If it is indeed time to adjust expectations for the 2022-23 Iowa State wrestling team, then Sunday’s 19-15 win over No. 13 Arizona State was something of a frustrating experience for the 5,364 inside Hilton Coliseum.

If it isn’t, then hooray, the fifth-ranked Cyclones are now 9-2 this season after beating the Sun Devils for the first time since 2015. Iowa State has now won 34 of its last 40 dual meets under head coach Kevin Dresser. Awesome.

But all indications suggest Iowa State is a trophy-level team this year. Its best lineup has a high ceiling, for one, but also, after Penn State and Iowa, the race for the third- and fourth-place trophies at the NCAA Championships come March is wide open.

So, with that idea in mind, the Cyclones’ win on Sunday was maybe a little underwhelming.

“Sometimes you get those ugly Ws,” Dresser said, “and this was an ugly W.”

Iowa State started hot but ended cold against Arizona State, now 2-2 this season. The Cyclones won the first five matches for a 19-0 lead thanks to three bonus-point wins, then the Sun Devils won the last five — including four by two points or less.

This dual was very much a tale of two halves. It seemed at first that Iowa State might completely obliterate Arizona State, but the Sun Devils countered with some gutsy wins and showed why they are also a trophy-contending team this season.

The Cyclones couldn’t miss in the first five matches, which featured all three returning All-Americans. They scored 24 takedowns and allowed one. Arizona State scored no offensive points in the first three matches and scored just six, total, in the first five:

  • Jason Kraisser won 7-0 over Max Wilner at 157.
  • David Carr scored a 17-2 technical fall over Tony Negron at 165.
  • Julien Broderson recorded a 17-5 major decision over Josh Nummer at 174.
  • Marcus Coleman scored two takedowns for a 6-2 win over Anthony Montalvo at 184. Coleman lost his last two meetings with Montalvo, in 2020, when Montalvo wrestled for Oklahoma State.
  • Yonger Bastida got thrown to his back and was nearly pinned in the first period … then promptly scored eight takedowns in a 23-11 major decision over Jonathan Fagen at 197.

“To be the first one out, you’re setting the tone,” Kraisser said. “That means more than just how I wrestle. That affects the team.”

Iowa State's Julien Broderson, left, takes down Arizona State's Josh Nummer during their 174-pound bout at Hilton Coliseum on Sunday.

In the final five, against the stronger part of Arizona State’s lineup, Iowa State either couldn’t score — which was the case in Caleb Fuessley’s 7-5 loss to Richie Figueroa at 125 and Ramazan Attasaouv’s 8-3 loss to Michael McGee at 133 — or couldn’t finish.

At 285, Sam Schuyler got a crack at Cohlton Schultz, the Sun Devils’ world-class heavyweight and returning NCAA finalist. Schultz scored a first-period takedown and fended off a late Schuyler attack and won 3-2.

At 141, No. 10 Casey Swiderski rallied from down 3-0 to tie it 4-4 with two takedowns in the second period, but gave up an escape to trail 5-4 in the third. Swiderski scored another takedown to lead 6-5, but a locked-hands call forced overtime at 6-6. There, Jesse Vasquez, ranked No. 19, finished a shot on the edge for an 8-6 win.

At 149, same thing. Paniro Johnson scored two takedowns for a 4-2 second-period lead, but Kyle Parco, a two-time All-American, scored a late takedown to lead 5-4 entering the third. Johnson escaped for overtime at 5-5, but Parco converted a low-ankle shot to win, 7-5.

“Mental errors,” Dresser said. “Growing pains. They’re right there. Everybody can see that they’re right there. I see a lot of progress, but we have a lot of things we can go fix.”

Those mental errors can be the difference in winning and losing close matches at the national tournament — and enough of them can be the difference between winning and losing a trophy at the national tournament. Dresser would know. His one trophy-winning Virginia Tech team, in 2016, finished fourth by a single point.

Iowa State coach Kevin Dresser, left, reacts during Sunday's wrestling dual meet against Arizona State at Hilton Coliseum.

The good news is it’s early January. There’s plenty of time to learn from the mistakes that cost Iowa State matches against Arizona State and in other duals from earlier this season — like the 26-6 win over No. 11 Wisconsin, the 18-13 win over No. 3 Cornell, the 22-12 loss to No. 1 Penn State, or the 18-15 loss to No. 2 Iowa.

On top of that, more tests await these Cyclones. They’ll wrestle at Utah Valley next Saturday, then a week off, then seven duals in 20 days, a stretch that includes more trophy-contending teams: No. 4 Missouri (Feb. 15), No. 6 Pittsburgh (Feb. 4), No. 15 Oklahoma State (Jan. 29), and No. 18 Northern Iowa (Feb. 10).

“I’ve been here for a while, and we haven’t beaten Arizona State,” Carr said. “It’s cool to be able to beat Arizona State and beat some of the teams that we’ve been able to beat. We need to keep building, for sure.”

“We’re all about being greater later,” Carr continued. “I want to see our best in March.”

So perhaps it’s time to adjust the lens through which we view this Iowa State team the rest of the way. The Cyclones have the lineup to win an NCAA team trophy for the first time since 2010. The math suggests they can, too. Most important, they believe they can.

But that means the expectations are different now. That means the bar, everywhere, is higher now. That means winning those close matches matters more now. And that means a 19-15 win over Arizona State is good, sure, but maybe not as good as it could’ve or should’ve been.

“Ending that way isn’t what we wanted,” Dresser said, then quickly followed with: “But I hope in the long run, the lessons learned there will be really valuable when we get to the Big 12 and NCAA tournaments.”

Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at@codygoodwin.

No. 5 Iowa State 19, No. 13 Arizona State 15

  • 157: #30 Jason Kraisser (ISU) dec. Max Wilner (ASU), 7-0
  • 165: #3 David Carr (ISU) tech. fall Tony Negron (ASU), 17-2
  • 174: #28 Julien Broderson (ISU) maj. dec. Josh Nummer (ASU), 17-5
  • 184: #4 Marcus Coleman (ISU) dec. #19 Anthony Montalvo (ASU), 7-2
  • 197: #5 Yonger Bastida (ISU) maj. dec. Jonathan Fagen (ASU), 23-11
  • 285: #6 Cohlton Schultz (ASU) dec. #10 Sam Schuyler (ISU), 3-2
  • 125: Richie Figueroa (ASU) dec. Caleb Fuessley (ISU), 7-5
  • 133: #4 Michael McGee (ASU) dec. #23 Ramazan Attasaouv (ISU), 8-3
  • 141: #25 Jesse Vasquez (ASU) dec. #10 Casey Swiderski (ISU), 8-6 (SV)
  • 149: #7 Kyle Parco (ASU) dec. #3 Paniro Johnston (ISU), 7-5 (SV)