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Iowa State wrestling: David Carr ‘on the hunt’ for a national title after bump up to 165
3-time All-American faces a new challenge this season
AMES — The second setback of Iowa State standout wrestler David Carr’s college career could have momentarily broken him.
It came in the second round of last March’s NCAA Championships and forced Carr, the then-reigning national champ at 157 pounds, to embark on a grueling series of wrestlebacks to simply have a chance to take third.
Carr, of course, won all seven of those consolation matches to notch his best possible finish — and this season the three-time All-American will face a new challenge and opportunity: A bump up to 165.
“It feels pretty good,” said Carr, who will represent the U.S. at 74 kilograms at the Oct. 17-23 U23 World Championships in Pontevedra, Spain, before setting his sights on another college crown. “I can eat a little bit more, so it’s pretty nice.”
Carr’s competitiveness fits perfectly into a Cyclone wrestling room rippling with proven veterans and talented freshmen.
Fellow 2022 All-Americans Marcus Coleman (184) and Younger Bastida (197) join Carr among the headliners, but true freshmen such as 141-pounder Casey Swiderski and 149-pounder Paniro Johnson also are in prime contention for starting spots.
ISU head coach Kevin Dresser said there are 20 freshman wrestlers on his team competing to make an impact sooner rather than later.
“So there’s strength in numbers and these guys happen to be pretty darn good wrestlers,” said Dresser, whose team is ranked 10th nationally by InterMat. “They’re very competitive, the whole group.”
Swiderski, a four-time Michigan state champ, turned heads by beating Ohio State recruit Jesse Mendez, 10-4, in a pre-NCAA Finals exhibition match last March and is confident he can begin competing for championships for ISU now.
“If my aspirations are to win four national titles, then I’ve got to do it right now,” Swiderski said. “That’s the plan.”
Carr’s been helping. Swiderski and the nation’s No. 3-ranked 165-pounder have been scrapping occasionally, sharpening each other’s skills despite the 20-plus pound weight difference.
“He doesn’t get tired,” Swiderski said. “His hands are always gonna be on you and it’s tough to be able to stay going forward, because he’s just coming at you. And you get tired. I am a little smaller than him, but I don’t care. I don’t care if you’re bigger than me. I’m here to win.
“Obviously it’s David Carr, but you’re gonna get tired, he’s gonna take you down, but you’ve got to figure it out. Keep getting up.”
That’s what Carr did after Oregon State’s Hunter Willits ended his 55-match win streak and hopes for a second straight national title last March. Now with the bump up and weight class comes heightened competition nationally and internationally for Carr. And he’s primed for the challenge.
“I’m the one going on the hunt,” he said. “I’m hunting down the No. 1 guy. It’s a little bit different than being the returning national champ. It’s like, ‘OK, you’ve got to get back to work. You’ve got to be the hunter.’ So I kind of like that.”