AMES — Iowa State wrestling went into Carver-Hawkeye Arena last season and lost by mere inches — literally.
Coach Kevin Dresser was happy with how his team wrestled in a 19-18 loss, but he said Iowa State went there to win.
Now, No. 12 Iowa State hosts No. 2 Iowa at 2 p.m. Sunday at Hilton Coliseum.
“Everybody around wrestling got excited because we competed well but when we got back on that bus, we didn’t get what we came to do,” Dresser said. “You like to win when you compete that hard. It’s the same thing this weekend, we need to compete really hard so that when we step back in the locker room, we feel good about our effort from all 10 guys.”
Like last season, to even have a chance, the Cyclones need to win all of the toss-up matches and they’ll need to sprinkle in a few upsets.
Iowa State 149-pounder Jarrett Degen is 2-0 against Iowa’s Pat Lugo. While his record is good, both matches have been incredibly close, including a match that went to tiebreakers last season in Iowa City.
“If you’re going to beat Jarrett Degen, you better be able to go hard the whole time,” Dresser said.
“In both situations, Degen was behind and he came back and won. When you sign up for Jarrett Degen, you better be ready to wrestle. Lugo is a great competitor and a great athlete. We’ve made a couple of adjustments that can help us, but at the end of the day, you have two good guys battling.”
What separates No. 6 Pat Lugo from other wrestlers in the eyes of No. 4 Degen?
“He wears black and gold,” Degen said. “That’s the only thing that sets him apart from any other wrestler in the nation.”
At 157 pounds, Iowa State freshman David Carr will get his first true test in No. 2 Kaleb Young.
“When you’re a freshman, you have to earn your keep,” Dresser said. “He gets a chance to earn his keep. His opponent was a high All-American last year. He’s a quality guy but if you win the match, you climb the rankings.
“(Carr) just likes that challenge all the time. He likes big-time matches — that’s why he came to Iowa State. He’s in a big-time match.”
Carr is trying to keep his emotions in check, but he recognizes the opportunity in front of him.
“It haven’t gotten too crazy excited yet,” Carr said with a smile. “But I know once I step into Hilton, that’s a crazy and magical place. There’s a lot of legacy in that building.
“Any time I can wrestle in front of the fans I know I’m going to give it all I’ve got. I’m going to wrestle as hard as I can.”
The dual on Sunday features a ranked matchup at almost every weight, and while Iowa is favored, the Cyclones put the Hawkeyes on notice last season and they want to finish that job this season.
“It boils down to how bad you want to beat somebody,” Dresser said. “If you really, really want to beat someone, you figure out a way to get it done.
“It’s a good test for us. You want to put yourself in big-time environments against top-10 guys. I tell our guys that’s why you go to college. It’s fun to walk around campus on Monday when you beat a top-10 guy.”
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