AMES — When Iowa State wrestling coach Kevin Dresser was putting together this season’s schedule he had a take-all-comers approach.
It’s how NCAA Division III teams like Loras and Wartburg were on the schedule early in the season. And it’s why Iowa State is wresting NJCAA power Iowa Central and NCAA Division II standout Lindenwood on Saturday in Hilton Coliseum. Iowa Central is ranked sixth among the nation’s junior colleges, Lindenwood fourth in D-II.
On top of the two non-Division I teams, the Cyclones are hosting perennial Big 12 power Oklahoma State on Saturday as well.
“We have to feel them,” Dresser said. “It’s always good to feel the best guys, and they’re obviously the best guys. We have to fight hard all day.”
Oklahoma State has a wrestler ranked at every weight, but may be out a few starters. No. 1-ranked Daton Fix (133 pounds) is supposed to be out until February and No. 5 Kaid Brock (141) and No. 12 Wyatt Sheets (157) have been in and out of the lineup in the early part of the season.
Iowa State also still is dealing with its own injury concerns.
Jarrett Degen (149), Sam Colbray (184), Joel Shapiro (184) and Marcus Coleman (197) have all been out to begin the season and Cam Robinson (149) was injured early in the season.
“The good news is they’re all closer,” Dresser said. “We’re going to weigh in all of them and then we’ll probably make some game-time decisions. If I had to make a decision today (Thursday), I’d probably say no. But they have been progressing in the practice room. But I’m super sensitive about putting them out there in this type of environment too early.
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“We worked hard to get them back, their weight is good and their shape is good. I just don’t know if they’ve had enough mat time yet. All those guys can wrestle really well and we need them long term.”
In the meantime, the rest of the starters will have to hold down the fort.
Isaac Judge (165) will be tasked with wrestling Oklahoma State’s No. 4 Travis Witlake.
“I’m just excited to get to compete against that level of wrestler,” Judge said. “He’s probably going to be the No. 1 guy at the Big 12s and I just want to feel that because I haven’t felt that yet.”
Judge started the season slowly with an 8-6 loss to former Iowa State teammate and Wartburg wrestler Zane Mulder, but was able to beat Oklahoma’s Jake Stiles, 4-1, in Iowa State’s last dual.
Judge wrestles with No. 3 David Carr (157) at least once a week in the room and wrestled him almost daily in the summer. Judge believes the competitions against Carr in the room will help prepare him for Witlake.
“I like to think of it like if I can hang with David, I can hang with anybody,” Judge said. “Witlake is going to come out and try to rip my head off, so I’m going to be there and I’m going to be in his face and make it as tough as I can.”
Oklahoma State wrestles at Northern Iowa at 1 p.m.