ISU wrestling: Jackson's ISU debut will produce 'smile'
By ROB GRAY ? ? November 11, 2009

Iowa State wrestling coach Kevin Jackson believes returning NCAA champion, 197-pounder Jake Varner, came back from February's World Championships in Denmark stronger, wiser and even better.

That could be bad news for Varner's foes, starting with today's 7 p.m. season-opening dual against South Dakota State at Hilton Coliseum in Ames.

"You really can't match that experience," said Jackson, a two-time world freestyle champion who will make his college coaching debut.

Varner likely will match up against the Jackrabbits' top wrestler Tyler Sorenson, who went 14-4 last season.

"It will interesting to see if the South Dakota (State) kid comes to compete or he comes to stay close," said Jackson, whose preseason No. 2 Cyclones finished third at last season's NCAA Championships. "If he tries to keep it close, it's up to Jake to try to have that point margin at the end of the match and try to do it the way he's been trained to do it."

Varner finished 2-1 in Denmark, branching out in terms of technique and level of competition after a banner 31-2, 2008-09 championship season.

"Back here, you've still got to be on you're A-game, but it brings you along a little farther, I guess," Varner said of competing among the world's best.

Jackson excelled within that elite group many times. Now he'll be back at Hilton - in a suit, not a singlet, preparing others for the type of success he achieved.

"This year is going to be full of firsts and I think to get our season started in Hilton Coliseum with a dual meet in front of our home fans ... definitely there's going to be a smile on my face," Jackson said.

"We're all eagerly anticipating seeing our athletes perform and seeing if they're making those connections that we've been working on for a while now."