AMES — Iowa State must fill a 133-pound hole in the lineup caused by the medical retirement of Austin Gomez.
The Cyclones will likely turn to freshmen Zach Redding and Ramazan Attasauov to replace the NCAA qualifier.
Iowa State Coach Kevin Dresser addressed the possible role Gomez could still play with the team and his possible successor as a starter during the team’s virtual media day Wednesday.
Gomez missed last season due to the effects of a concussion and had received a medical hardship waiver. Unfortunately, a recent concussion forced him to step away from competition permanently.
“Obviously, losing Austin was tough news for us this week,” Dresser said. “Once he got a concussion a couple weeks ago, I pretty much saw the writing on the wall. You only get so many of those and you’re done.”
Gomez reached the round of 12 at the national tournament with a 24-7 record as a freshman, posting 11 bonus-point victories.
The developments were disappointing but not a surprise to the Cyclones. Big 12 champion and returning 141-pound All-American Ian Parker said Gomez informed the team before the social media announcement. He said it is something he didn’t want to see happen to his teammate.
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“I love Austin Gomez,” Parker said. “I wish the best for him. That guy was one of the hardest competitors I ever had in the room at Iowa State. I was very blessed to be on the team with him. I’m blessed to have him still in our room, helping coach and get guys ready.”
Redding is a two-time New York state champion and four-time medalist for Eastport-South Manor High School in Manorville, N.Y. He was the 119th-ranked overall recruit in the Class of 2020.
Attasauov, originally from Nalchik, Russia, was a two-time Massachusetts state champion for Wayland High School. He was 21-8 during his redshirt season last year and was a U23 national champion.
“I’m excited to see what they have,” Parker said. “I think they both will be really great options for us at 133, for sure.”
Redding won the opening wrestle-off. Another is set for Thursday. The results might force a third one next week. Redding will be the No. 1 guy against Wartburg on Sunday at Hilton Coliseum.
“We’ve got some competition at weights,” Dresser said. “At 133, I really like the guys we’ve got there.”
Dresser said Gomez remains a valuable asset to the program. He is expected to graduate in May and will determine what is next.
“I hope he stays,” Dresser said. “I’m sure he will. He’s been to practice ever since this happened and I challenged him to take some of these young guys under his wing. He’s got a lot of knowledge and he’s very wise in the sport of wrestling, so I think he can be a really good mentor. That’s what we’re asking of Austin Gomez.”
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David Carr ready to entertain
Big 12 champion David Carr was already one of the most exciting Cyclones to watch. His ability to score points and high pace highlighted his 18-1 redshirt freshman season that garnered first-team All-America honors at 157 pounds.
With the season opener against Wartburg Sunday, Carr said he has been working on hand-fighting and scrambling situations. The Junior World champion has focused to expand his offensive repertoire, which already caused opponents fits.
“I’ve been working on some fun moves,” said Carr, who placed sixth at the U.S. Senior Nationals at Coralville’s Xtream Arena in October. “You’ll just have to see at Hilton, but I’ve been trying some new stuff, trying to make myself more versatile, more entertaining.”
Carr is ready to wow anyone that sets eyes on his matches. It’s more about stockpiling points and dominating foes than just wins.
“I want to score lots of points and I want to do it in a fun and entertaining way,” Carr said. “I want to have as much fun as I can when I’m wrestling and make it enjoyable for you guys to watch.”
Healthy Jarrett Degen
Redshirt senior 149-pounder Jarrett Degen has battled his share of shoulder injuries the last two years. The two-time All-American suffered a torn labrum and then dealt with his shoulder popping out of his socket.
Degen underwent shoulder surgery before elective surgeries were canceled during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. He is healthy and ready to go, looking to improve last season’s third-place Big 12 Conference finish and 16-4 record.
“My shoulder is feeling really good,” Degen said. “We took eight months instead of six months, an extra couple months to make sure it was strong and healthy, so that’s feeling good.”
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