This is a pivotal year for the Iowa State Cyclones head coach Kevin Jackson. Jackson has assembled a talented lineup filled with wrestlers who could make deep runs in the NCAA tournament, as well as an excellent coaching staff. However, come time for nationals, if the Cyclones fail to deliver on their potential, I would have to think that Jackson would see his job security erode quite a bit.
Leading Iowa State in 2014-2015 is senior 197 pounder Kyven Gadsen. Gadsen has placed 4th and 6th in the last two NCAA tournaments, and at certain points last year enjoyed the top ranking in the nation. A championship run from Gadsen, which is very possible, could vault Iowa State back to its historic place among the nation’s truly elite wrestling programs.
Two other Cyclones who earned All American status in 2014 also return. 165 pounder Michael Moreno proved that he wrestles best when the bright lights are on him by finishing fifth at the NCAA tournament, and 125 pound freshman Earl Hall made good on his blue-chip prep credentials by earning 8th place.
If Iowa State wants to crack the top ten, it not only needs Gadsen, Moreno and Hall to replicate last year’s results, but it will also need big performances from other parts of its lineup.
Two wrestlers in particular will make the difference for Iowa State: 141 pounder Vincent Meeks and 174 pounder Tanner Weatherman. Meeks came out of high school as a top-rated recruit, had a disappointing freshman campaign, red shirted last year and returns to the lineup this year looking fulfill his enormous promise. Weatherman, on the other hand, has performed well in the last two years, finishing excruciatingly close to All-American status in both 2013 and 2014. I don’t see Weatherman cracking the top 5 at 174, but he has a great shot at 6th place.
The remainder of Iowa State’s young but solid lineup could also contribute much-needed points to the team’s total in March, though I’m hesitant to predict any major individual production.
Once again, thanks to the help of Earl Hall at D1collegewrestling.net, we have a tentative lineup for Iowa State.
125-Kyle Larson (So)
133-Earl Hall (Jr)
141-John Meeks (So)
149-Gabe Moreno (So)
157-Daniel Woiwor (Fr)
165- Blayne Briceno (Fr)
165-Michael Moreno (Sr)
174-Tanner Weatherman (Jr)
184-Lelund Weatherspoon (So)
197-Kyven Gadson (Sr)
285-Quean Smith (So)
Team Point Breakdown
Earlier I predicted that Gadsen would win it all so I’ll stick by that. Assuming he gets bonus points in the process, he would earn 24 team points by himself. I think the points earned by Hall, Moreno, Meeks and Weatherman would more than double this total, and the rest of the team could add another 8 or so points for a grand total in the mid to high 50s.
On a personal note, I’ve always got the impression that Jackson and the members of his staff were good people, and for that reason I’ll admit that I’m pulling for this team a bit this year. So if I’ve been generous with my predictions, you can understand.
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