ISU wrestling: Small things can have big payoff, says Jackson
By ROB GRAY ? email@example.com ? November 3, 2009
Ames, Ia. ? Iowa State wrestling coach Kevin Jackson mentioned two dates during Tuesday's media day at the Lied Recreation Center.
First: The Nov. 12 season-opening dual meet against South Dakota State at Hilton Coliseum.
Second: The always-hyped Dec. 6 matchup with defending NCAA champion Iowa at home.
But reverse that order when assessing the meets' respective importance.
"We'll all try to play it down, the Brandses (Iowa coach Tom and assistant Terry) will try to play it down, anybody that surrounds these programs will try to play it down a bit," said Jackson, the two-time world freestyle champion, 1992 Olympic gold medalist and first-year Cyclone coach. "But we all know it's a Cy-Hawk Hy-Vee Series for a reason, because Iowa vs. Iowa State means something."
Jackson, who took over a squad that finished third in last season's NCAA Championships from Cael Sanderson, has brought something different to the Cyclones' wrestling room - an unwavering expectation that technique remains flawless from whistle to whistle.
Not that Sanderson didn't demand spot-on execution.
It's just that Jackson makes technical matters a point of emphasis, and his wrestlers have taken notice.
"We've been on coach Jackson's plan this preseason and right now during the season and so far I feel great and its working great," said fifth-year senior and 141-pounder Nick Gallick. "I feel the whole team has improved greatly throughout the preseason and I think everyone's wrestling better than they were over the summer."
Jackson said his plan centers on what's done outside of meets and behind the doors of the wrestling room.
If his guys compete properly and hone precise skills in there, it will show to the public.
"We're trying to teach complete wrestling, to wrestle in every situation, every position," Jackson said. "I think from a tactical standpoint, we want to be aggressive. We want to score points in that first period.
"That first period being a three-minute period, we believe as a staff that it's unacceptable to go 0-0 in a three-minute period."
Gallick would have difficulty accepting another so-close run at the NCAA Championships. He finished third last season after beating the top two seeds along the way.
Gallick, along with Iowa State's lone returning national champ, 197-pounder Jake Varner, stands No. 1 in his class in the W.I.N. preseason rankings.
"Being so close, you get a little taste of the feeling, but you don't quite get it," Gallick said. "You're close enough to kind of feel what it feels like, but far enough (away) that you don't actually feel it."
Varner feels the Cyclones can produce multiple national champs this season.
Iowa State returns five all-Americans: Varner, Gallick, Nick Fanthorpe (133), Jon Reader (165), and David Zabriskie (heavyweight).
"That's my goal for myself, for the team - to win it as a team," said Varner, a two-time runner-up at 184. "Whatever I can do to help these guys win, I'll do."
That begins Nov. 12 against the Jackrabbits and winds toward March, including, of course, Dec. 6, when Jackson will lead his group of wrestlers before a charged crowd of 15,000 against the Hawkeyes.
"I'm sure I'll feel some butterflies, but as far as pressure to win - I can't go out and wrestle for these guys," said Jackson, whose team has lost four straight times to Iowa. "All I can do is train them. They've got to go out there and perform and wrestle the way they're capable of wrestling in order for us to have success."
Ticket sales: Iowa State announced Tuesday it had set a new record for wrestling season ticket sales at 1,348. The university sold 1,313 in 2007.
Season tickets are on sale for $50. Call (888) 478-2925, or (515) 294-1816 for more information. Fans can also e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
MEET THE 2009-10 CYCLONES
125: ANDREW LONG, redshirt freshman; Three-time state champion for Creston/Orient-Macksburg High School.
or 125: ANTHONY VALLES, redshirt freshman; Won New Jersey high school state title at 130 pounds in 2008.
133: NICK FANTHORPE, senior; 21-6 last season, competed in third NCAA championships. (or Valles; see above)
141: NICK GALLICK, senior; 35-5 last season, ranked No. 1 in this year?s W.I.N. preseason rankings.
149: MITCH MUELLER, senior; 24-9 last season, finished one victory short of all-America honors in 2008-09.
157: NATE CARR JR., junior; 13-6 last season, 2007 junior college national champion at Iowa Central.
165: JON READER, junior; 30-8 last season, two-time all-American at Iowa State.
174: DUKE BURK, senior; 19-9 last season, 2-2 at NCAA championships last season.
184: JEROME WARD, sophomore; 22-12 last season, NCAA championships qualifier
197: JAKE VARNER, senior; 31-2 last season, defending national champion at 197 pounds.
HWT: DAVID ZABRISKIE, senior; 34-4 last season, two-time all-American with the Cyclones.
or HWT: ERIC THOMPSON, redshirt freshman; Two-time state champion for Waverly-Shell Rock High School.
IOWA STATE RUNDOWN
LAST SEASON: 15-3 dual meet record, tied for first in the Big 12 Conference meet, third in NCAA Championships.
COACH: Kevin Jackson, in his first year as a head college coach, but served eight years as national freestyle coach for USA Wrestling. Won two world freestyle championships and the 1992 Olympic gold medal.
STRENGTHS: Iowa State returns eight of its 10 NCAA qualifiers from last season, including 197 champion Jake Varner, who also competed in the World Freestyle Championships, and Nick Gallick, who took third at 141.
CONCERNS: After the Harold Nichols/Cyclone Open Nov. 14,
Iowa State takes to the road in nine of its next 11 events, including road bouts at Northern Iowa (Dec. 19), Minnesota (Jan. 3), Oklahoma (Jan. 22), and Oklahoma State (Jan. 24).
NOVEMBER 12: South Dakota State, at Ames, 7 p.m.; 14: Harold Nichols (Cyclone Open) Ames; 21: Omaha Open.
DECEMBER 6: Iowa, at Ames, 6 p.m.; 19: at Northern Iowa, 2 p.m.; 29-30: Midlands Championship, at Evanston, Ill.
JANUARY 3: at Minnesota, 2 p.m.; 9-10: NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals, at Cedar Falls; 16: Illinois, at Ames, 7 p.m.; 22: at Oklahoma, 7 p.m.; 24: at Oklahoma State, 2 p.m.; 31: at Cornell (N.Y.), 1 p.m.
FEBRUARY 7: at Arizona State, TBA; 14: Missouri, at Ames, 2 p.m.; 21: Nebraska, at Ames, 2 p.m.
MARCH 6: Big 12 championships, at Norman, Okla.; 18-20: NCAA championships, at Omaha, Neb.