Iowa State Cyclones

Toughness is key for Iowa State, UNI wrestling against Oklahoma State

Cowboys travel to Cedar Falls, Ames for Big 12 duals this weekend

Iowa State head wrestling coach Kevin Dresser watches action during a dual against Iowa at Hilton Coliseum in Ames on Su
Iowa State head wrestling coach Kevin Dresser watches action during a dual against Iowa at Hilton Coliseum in Ames on Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

AMES — One of the most storied programs in college wrestling is making its way through Iowa this weekend.

Oklahoma State wrestles UNI at 7 p.m. Saturday and then travels to Ames to wrestle Iowa State at Hilton Coliseum at 2 p.m. Sunday.

It’ll be the first time since head coach Kevin Dresser has been at Iowa State that Oklahoma State has made the trip north to wrestle the two Big 12 Conference opponents.

Oklahoma State isn’t one of college wrestling’s best programs just by being talented — the Cowboys are also tough. It starts with legendary coach John Smith.

“We get one of the most storied programs and one of the best coaches to ever go down in the history of college wrestling in our place on Sunday and that’s exciting,” said Dresser, who is trying to build Iowa State back up to a national power. “Hopefully it’s exciting for our 10 guys, too, because 10 guys have to carry the program on their shoulders and wrestle in a great meet. Oklahoma State is wrestling great right now so it’s a great opportunity.”

Dresser believes Iowa State has the talent to do great things once again. But he’s not sure whether or not his guys are tough enough.

“Kids this day and age want to be coachable when it’s convenient and when they feel good,” Dresser said. “They don’t want to be coachable when they don’t feel good.

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“I’m an old guy and it was different when I was going through it. When the coach said to do something, you did it. It was hard and it was painful but you didn’t question it.”

Dresser isn’t just referring to extra push-ups or pull-ups, it’s about making the tough life decisions, too.

While every other student at Iowa State can eat fast food, eat candy or go out on a Friday night, he wants his guys to resist those things.

“If you don’t do those things right, you can’t be your best,” Dresser said. “You have to marry those details and that’s a hard marriage — it really is.

For the first time in a while, Oklahoma State is vulnerable. The Cowboys are ranked No. 8 and have a few spots in their lineup where the Cyclones and Panthers could match up well.

Oklahoma State will still be favored but there are opportunities for the two Iowa schools to pull an upset.

“In order to do something you’re not supposed to do — on paper we’re not supposed to beat Oklahoma State — you have to want something really, really bad,” Dresser said. “Hopefully that desire will force these 10 guys to do the right things all week long and set themselves up for success when it gets tough. And it will get tough that last period. We need to feel good enough and be tough enough to finish that last period of the match and get our hand raised.”

And if Iowa State doesn’t get the win, Dresser isn’t taking the blame.

“This generation wants the success and they want to read about themselves on Twitter but then when you call them out on something, you’re the bad guy,” Dresser said. “Well guess what? I don’t mind being the bad guy because we need to understand that it’s on us.

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“I’m not going to get up here on Sunday if we lose — unless it’s blatantly something my fault — and say, ‘We got beat and it’s on me as a coach.’ That’s crap. It’s not on me as the coach. It’s on 10 guys.

“I was a wrestler once, too, and when we lost, you didn’t hear (Dan) Gable say in one press conference, ‘It’s my fault the team got beat.’ No. He put it on us. They put it on us to the point where when you walked off the mat and you didn’t do a good job, you could expect another workout within 45 minutes of the dual meet being over. And you didn’t question it. We need to have a little more of that.”

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