AMES — Two of the most important seniors in Iowa State’s wrestling lineup have only been available for one weekend this season. Jarrett Degen (149) and Sam Colbray (184) both made their season debut last weekend in Fargo, N.D.
The two were nursing injuries during the early part of the season but they are now healthy enough to compete once again.
And it couldn’t have come a moment too soon. No. 13 Iowa State (8-2, 3-1 Big 12) hosts No. 11 Arizona State (4-0) and No. 15 Northern Iowa (4-2, 3-1) in Hilton Coliseum at 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Sunday (ESPN+) for its senior day. The Panthers face the Sun Devils at 1:30 p.m. (YouTube).
Both opponents have ranked wrestlers up and down the lineup that should give the Cyclones a good feel for what high-level foes are like.
“It’s nice to finish off against two really quality teams that will give our guys a really good test and a really good feel for what the second day of the Big 12 Championships or second day of the NCAA Championships might feel like,” Iowa State Coach Kevin Dresser said. “I’m really excited to see how we compete against them.”
In Iowa State’s first dual of the season against a Division I team on Jan. 17 (No. 5 Missouri), the Cyclones were without Degen, Colbray and Marcus Coleman and the freshmen were getting their first feel for a D-I opponent.
The Cyclones lost that dual 31-7.
At the end of Janurary, Iowa State lost to No. 6 Oklahoma State by just one point, 16-15. The Cyclones were still without Degen and Colbray but the freshmen were getting used to what it meant to wrestle at this level.
Now, Iowa State gets to show what its whole lineup can do.
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“I’m excited to see how tough we are and to see our ability to overcome things,” Degen said. “The Missouri dual made us look like we weren’t all put together but in our heads, we knew what we could do. Then the Oklahoma State dual, we were a point away from winning that.
“I think our additions (Degen, Colbray and Coleman) will definitely help but the cool thing is with us being out, our depth has gotten better. It was cool seeing that but I’m excited to see what we can do now that we’re back in there to keep bringing this team up.”
Iowa State was actually supposed to wrestle Arizona State the same weekend as Missouri but the Sun Devils had to drop out due to COVID-19 problems.
That postponement might’ve been a blessing in disguise for the Cyclones because now the full lineup can face another highly-ranked team.
“A lot of things are about timing, especially with injuries,” Dresser said. “Maybe we got a little lucky in this one with the matchups being a little bit stronger now than a month ago. We know that Arizona State is really good and the guys who are just getting back into the lineup will have their hands full. It’ll be a great test.”
If Iowa State is able to pull off back-to-back wins against two ranked teams, it would show Dresser what kind of leadership he has with his seniors finally back on the mat.
“It’s a funny mix right now,” Dresser said. “We have the old men and the young guys. Let’s see if the old men can pull us through.”
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