ISU looks tough
Ryan Young - The Daily Iowan
Issue date: 12/7/07 Section: Sports
PrintEmail DoubleClick Any Word Page 1 of 1 Last weekend in Minneapolis, the Iowa State wrestling team pulled off the highly unlikely.

Upsetting then-No. 1 Minnesota, 18-13, in Williams Arena, the Cyclones seized the national top spot while spoiling the Golden Gophers' hunt for an unbeaten season.

The last time Iowa State stood No. 1 was December 1999; Cyclone head coach Cael Sanderson was on the verge of claiming the 184-pound national championship for the second-consecutive year.

But on Dec. 9, Sanderson's grappling corps shifts from one extreme to another when Iowa State (6-0) meets Iowa (4-0) for the 73rd time since 1911.

The Hawkeyes have dominated the all-time series, 54-16-2. The Cyclones haven't managed to beat Iowa since 2004, when they edged out a 19-16 victory in Iowa City.

"Everyone knows this is a big match," Sanderson said. "It's something we've been looking forward to for awhile. These guys are excited about the opportunity."

Boasting a sophomore class that includes six wrestlers ranked nationally in the top 15, the Cyclone lineup has remained steady with four second-year grapplers possessing perfect records.

Sophomore Jake Varner leads Iowa State. Unbeaten and slotted atop the 184-pound standings, Varner scored a 3-0 decision in his latest matchup with Minnesota senior Roger Kish - the previous No. 1 in the weight class.

Additionally, sophomores Nick Fanthorpe (133), Cyler Sanderson (157), and David Zabriskie (heavyweight) are also unbeaten and rank fourth nationally in their respective weight classes.

The only questionable weight class for the Cyclones is at 174 pounds, where senior Aron Scott and sophomore Chris Pursel stand as the probable starters. Scott (2-2) lost, 9-2, in his bout with Golden Gopher Gabe Dretsch, while Pursel (5-3) hasn't competed since Iowa State faced Rider University on Nov. 16.

"I think we're pretty balanced," Sanderson said. "We know Iowa has a really great team. I mean, it always does. [The Hawkeyes] have a great coaching staff, and they're going to be ready for the dual, so we just need to be ready and excited to go."

Meanwhile, 165-pound Hawkeye Mark Perry hasn't been a name uttered in the Cyclone locker room, and even with Perry's absence from the meet, Sanderson's lineup hasn't changed since his team's last triumph.

"That's a good idea though. I didn't think about that," the Cyclone coach joked about amending his lineup. "It's pretty consistent. We have a few weights where we're moving a few guys around, but for the most part, we're pretty set."

After the 24-6 trouncing Iowa State received last year in Iowa City, Sanderson said, the intrastate rivalry is motivation, given the powerhouse history of both programs.

"[A win] would mean a lot for us," he said. "Win or lose, we're going to move forward. It's just a game.

"But it's more fun to win than lose."

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