Wrestling Weekend That Was: Iowa State takes center stage

Various happenings in wrestling for Nov. 24-26

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Thanksgiving Day is done and all those leftovers are dwindling or being replaced with the first batches of cookies or peanut brittle for the holiday season. Wrestlers had to watch their weight over the holiday with a smattering of events over the last weekend.

Cyclones take center stage

Iowa State wrestlers Kanen Storr and Jarrett Degen take a theater class together, so they may have felt a little more comfortable acting up when the Cyclones hosted 22nd-ranked Rider at Stephens Center — the school’s performance arts auditorium — on Sunday. The redshirt freshmen earned two of the Cyclones’ five wins in a 22-15 loss in front of 1,345 fans at the alternative venue.

When Storr stepped on stage, he was greeted to the bright lights he might experience in any future acting. He couldn’t see the crowd, but heard the fans during his 11-6 victory over Tyson Dippery, one of two Rider wrestlers to win in a lopsided loss to Iowa two days earlier.

“It was a fun experience,” Storr said. “The noise was really amplified.”

Degen, a transfer from Virginia Tech, added, “I liked it. It was fun.”

College wrestling has ventured outside the box to draw fans. They have tried to attract fans with the setup in hopes to hook them on the action. The standard was set when Iowa hosted Oklahoma State at Kinnick Stadium for Grapple on the Gridiron, which drew 42,287 fans. Other Iowa schools have done it. Upper Iowa held an outdoor dual named “Showdown at Sundown.” Cornell College hosted Simpson for “Ash Park After Dark” for a dual on the Rams’ football field. Buena Vista’s “Dinner and a Show Dual” included a three-course candlelight dinner before a victory over Nebraska Wesleyan.

First-year coach Kevin Dresser seemed pleased with the turnout, calling it a good start before expressing his appreciation to administration for approving the event.

“I think it was cool,” said Dresser, who did something similar at Virginia Tech. “As this program gets better, I think seats get fuller.”

Banking on cash

Iowa sophomore Cash Wilcke is off to an impressive start this season. He is 4-0 with two major decisions this season, following Friday’s 16-3 thumping of Rider’s Ethan Laird. It was the third time he’s hit double-digit points in a match.

“It was awesome,” Wilcke said. “I felt good. I got to my offense right away and built up my riding time. Then, I felt him crumple a little bit and that’s when you start building your lead.”

Sixth-ranked Wilcke looked in control the entire time, which is improved from a year ago when he lacked mat or match awareness in close matches with ranked foes. Wilcke, considered by many as one of the most athletic people on the team, overcame that thanks to a strong finish that left him a win away from the podium.

“I was right there last year,” Wilcke said. “Going from not being a guy in the tournament to the round of 12 made my confidence jump up. It showed I can hang with those guys and not only hang but beat those guys.

“I used that confidence this offense and got a lot more offense, built up my tempo and pace.”

Lewis wins world gold

United World Wrestling held the U23 World Championships this past week. Richie Lewis, of the Scarlet Knights Wrestling Club, won gold at 154 pounds. It was USA Wrestling’s first world title in the newly formed event. Lewis has an Iowa connection. He was a two-time NJCAA All-American for Iowa Central in 2014 and 2015.

Iowa had plenty of representatives. Hawkeye Wrestling Club member Sam Brooks also competed at 189. Former Ballard prep Rachel Watters and former Eddyville-Blakesburg prep Megan Black, the only female state medalist, wrestled in women’s freestyle earlier in the week. Watters went 1-1 at 165.

Former Waterloo East champ and ISU NCAA champ, Kyven Gadson, won gold at 213 at Henri Deglane Challenge on Saturday in Nice, France. He beat Micah Burak in the finals.

The International competition is a good reminder that Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City will be the site for the 2018 Men’s Freestyle World Cup. The best teams in the world will compete in dual competition April 7-8.

l Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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