AMES — It’s safe to say Ian Parker’s post-New Year wrestling schedule was, and continues to be, tough.
Iowa State Coach Kevin Dresser said the sophomore from Saint Johns, Mich., needed to be dragon slayer in the second half of the season. So far, Parker has lived up to that moniker.
Parker met two top-15 wrestlers late in January in Oklahoma’s Dom Demas and Oklahoma State’s Kaid Brock.
He beat both of them by decision.
Now, No. 11 Parker gets another pair of highly-ranked wrestlers — this time, they’re both ranked in the top 10.
On Thursday, when No. 11 Iowa State travels to Cedar Falls to wrestle No. 17 Northern Iowa, Parker will need to bring his dragon-slayer mentality to the mat.
He is matched against No. 7 Josh Alber. On Sunday, he takes on Missouri’s No. 3 Jaydin Eierman.
“You have ranked matchups across the board,” Dresser said of the UNI meet. “We’re probably underdogs at 141 (pounds) — we’ve never beaten those guys, so we have a lot to prove at that weight. I think we’ll be really fired up at 141.”
In their matchup last season, Alber beat Parker, 3-2. Parker believes his tough schedule has prepared him for the match.
“It prepares me in the sense that it’s not anything different than what I’ve been doing,” Parker said. “It doesn’t matter who it is — high rankings, tough guy or whatever it is. It’s the same game plan and the same attitude — nothing changes, really.”
While Parker’s match is a big one, the Iowa State-UNI dual features five ranked matchups and at least one ranked wrestler at every weight except 157.
That hasn’t always been the case in recent years. UNI has beaten Iowa State the last two times the teams have wrestled, including a 31-7 win last season in the West Gym.
“UNI is going to be a huge test for us,” Dresser said. “That’s a very, very good team and a well-coached program. They get excited about wrestling Iowa State and Iowa because sometimes I think they take a back seat, which they shouldn’t.
“They have great motivation to come out and compete against Iowa and Iowa State, so we have to recognize that and realize that.”
Dresser shouldn’t have to worry too much about Parker realizing that.
“It’s the end of the season and our team has the two biggest matches it has had and I have the two biggest dual matches I’ve had,” Parker said.
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