AMES — Before his mid-season move down to 174 pounds, the last time Sam Colbray weighed 174 pounds was in seventh grade.
His first collegiate match as a true freshman was at heavyweight before he redshirted. Every subsequent season, he moved down a weight class.
Iowa State head coach Kevin Dresser said he decided with Colbray to make the mid-season descent because he felt like Colbray could contend for a national championship at 174.
Colbray had some shrinking pains (or whatever the opposite of growing pains is) in the beginning. He took losses to top-10 wrestlers Anthony Valencia of Arizona State and Joe Smith of Oklahoma State. While those losses hurt, the real eye-opener was a loss to unranked Brandon Martino of Fresno State.
“After you get smacked in the mouth you can’t sulk,” Colbray said. “You have to come back and figure out what the issue is and solve it.”
Last weekend, Colbray put it all together and beat then-No. 10 Anthony Mantanona of Oklahoma.
On Saturday and Sunday, Colbray will have a chance to build off his first signature win at 174 as Iowa State hosts West Virginia at 7 p.m. Saturday and Northern Iowa at 2 p.m. Sunday.
UNI’s Bryce Steiert is ranked No. 5 and will be a good test for Colbray. Not just in terms of his wrestling ability, but to make sure he’s maintaining his weight the right way.
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“It’s about living close to your weight and training close to your weight,” Dresser said. “That’s where he had some problems in January. He can’t be double-digits over one day and be 5 over the next day — your body doesn’t know what’s going on. Consequently, when you get in a dog fight, you don’t have much fight left in your dog and it’s hard to get it done.”
Colbray will need to be feeling his best, too. Steiert is known for his stamina.
“It was just a matter of getting used to the weight,” Dresser said. “The Oklahoma win was a good win for him but more importantly, he felt good. We have to keep building off of this. The guy he has on Sunday (Steiert) has a gas tank and a half and he’s going to come at him. It’s a great test for Sam.”
Colbray believes he is ready for the test.
“I’m excited — not worried,” Colbray said. “I’m Sam Colbray — I’ll perform. I’m sure he’s ready as well so we’ll so when the matchup comes. I know he’s a brawler and he won’t back down. I’m ready for that.”
Dresser believes his Iowa State team, not just Colbray, is about to turn a corner. Freshman phenom David Carr is 50-50 for the duals with a minor injury but he believes the rest of the team is finally putting it together.
“This team is on a path to peak at the right time,” Dresser said. “We’re not there yet, but we’re close. When we get into March, we can make a really good run.”
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