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CEDAR FALLS — Iowa State Coach Kevin Jackson doesn’t have fond memories of the Cyclones last trip to the West Gym.
He recalled the hot and sticky atmosphere of Northern Iowa’s small and older venue, not to mention the home crowd breathing down the Cyclones’ necks.
Jackson expects more of the same when he returns 16th-ranked Iowa State to face in-state rival UNI Friday, starting at 7.
“We’re looking forward to wrestling in that environment,” Jackson said at Monday’s weekly media conference. “It’s a hostile environment, but we always talk about being ale to embrace any kind of environment you wrestle in. If you can’t compete well in that environment, it’s going to be difficult to compete in the Big 12 Championships or NCAA Championships.”
UNI Coach Doug Schwab joked about bringing extra heaters at his weekly media appearance, asking if that move would be legal. He said other coaches have said they like competing in the intense and intimate surroundings.
“It’s a hostile environment but it’s a fun environment, though,” Schwab said. “We love the environment and atmosphere.”
The Panthers posted a 24-13 victory the last meeting in the West Gym between the two programs, which was in 2014, when UNI recorded an unbeaten dual record.
“It wasn’t good,” Jackson said of that dual. “I think a couple of our guys did not wrestle to their potential,” Jackson said. “I think they may have upset one or two of our guys.
“It wasn’t a good experience for our team, but I think we bounced back the next year and beat them pretty well (24-12).”
Both teams have had their share of adversity this season. Iowa State NCAA qualifier Gabe Moreno and UNI’s two-year Jarrett Jensen had their seasons end prematurely due to shoulder surgery. Schwab was asked how the teams match up.
“It depends on who we have healthy,” Schwab said with a laugh. “They have some guys injured, too.
“The one thing about injuries is the other team doesn’t care. Whoever steps out there, you have to be ready to wrestle. If we are wrestling our third- or fourth-string guy, that guy is expected to go out and compete a certain way.”
The Panthers (3-7) have four ranked wrestlers, while the Cyclones (8-5) have two and Big 12 Wrestler of the Week Lelund Weatherspoon, who has been in the 184-pounder rankings previously.
UNI’s seventh-ranked 125-pounder Dylan Peters recently returned from injury. He won his last match by fall, pinning Ohio University’s Shakur Laney in 1:55. He actually won two matches last weekend.
“It was great to get Peters back in the lineup,” Schwab said. “I like where he’s at. I don’t care if he has a big brace on his leg. If you let him get to your body you’re probably going to be in trouble.”
Ranked wrestlers match up at two weight classes. At 133, Iowa State’s eighth-ranked Earl Hall will face No. 15 Josh Alber. The Cyclones’ Tanner Weatherman, ranked ninth, will face No. 13 Cooper Moore at 165. Iowa State has won three total matches — two at 133 and one at 165 — between those ranked competitors.
“I know those are matches they’re looking to reverse from earlier this year,” Jackson said. “It’s important for us and for our guys to wrestle to their true ability.”
Schwab said you can discard team and individual records in a series like this one.
“I think you throw some things out,” Schwab said. “You expect some things that aren’t supposed to happen to happen in a rivalry match.”
Jackson said he knows what the Cyclones are in store for when they take the mat with the Panthers. On the mat, Iowa State might have an advantage in more weights but you actually have to go out and earn the wins.
“We know exactly what they are going to be putting out on the mat,” Jackson said. “We know what the matchups are. We feel like we should be favored in quite a few matches, but you have to go out and make it happen. It doesn’t matter if you’re favored or not. You have to go out and wrestle.”
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