AMES — Iowa State wreslting hasn’t had an All-American in two seasons.
Jarrett Degen at 149 pounds was the lone Cyclone to make to the NCAA Championships last season and he made it to the round of 12 — one round short of earning All-America status.
But in the off season, Missouri 197-pound wrestler Willie Miklus decided to transfer back home. The former Southeast Polk prep is a three-time All American and is entering his sixth season as a collegiate wrestler (Miklus suffered a season-ending knee injury in 2016, which allowed him to get a medical redshirt).
“Just from a credential standpoint he brings a lot,” Iowa State coach Kevin Dresser said. “The kind of kid he is, he’s solid, he’s the senior leader of this team, which is unusual for a kid to transfer in and establish some leadership.”
Iowa State has a young team. Seven projected starters are sophomores or younger. The wrestlers have taken to his leadership.
“With our team being so young, (I) feel like I’m an old guy on the team and I’m a sophomore,” 141-pounder Ian Parker said. “Having a guy like Willie is something we didn’t have last year. He’s been there. He’s an All-American three times and he’s a sixth-year wrestler. That guy, you can’t find more experience in college wrestling than that guy. Having that leadership and trust in a guy you know has run the course is a big part of his leadership.”
Iowa State assistant coach Brent Metcalf said the guys on the team jokingly call the 25-year-old Miklus, “Dad” because of his age and experience.
“I just like talking to guys outside and hanging out outside of the room,” Miklus said. “I don’t like yelling at guys in the room, but I do like sitting down and talking one-on-one with people. It’s a more one-on-one leadership style than anything.”
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Miklus’ ultimate goal is to finally break through and win a national title. What does he need to work on to get there?
“I just need to get better on my feet, on top and on bottom,” Miklus said with a grin. “If I do those things, then I should be fine.”
Redshirt sophomore Sam Colbray was the 197-pound wrestler for the Cyclones last season. Since Miklus’ arrival, he’s moved down to 184 and Miklus has taken him under his wing. The two practice together often.
Colbray is a guy the coaches have said has all the talent in the world, he just needs to unlock it. Miklus sees the same thing.
“When that dude decides he really wants to score, there isn’t much stopping him,” Miklus said. “Colbray is really, really good. He’s really tough when he decides to be. If he decides that he wants to score 30 points a match, I think he could.”
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