“Traditionally, we’ve had a very strong field at the Harold Nichols Open,” Iowa State head coach Kevin Jackson said. “I think it’s one of the strongest preseason tournaments in the country. When you have a large contingency from Iowa, Nebraska, UNI, Illinois and Wisconsin, as well as the local schools, it’s a very strong tournament and one at which you will be tested.”
More than 20 Cyclone wrestlers will be taking the mat Saturday for their first action of season. Iowa State enters the tournament with five ranked wrestlers in this week’s InterMat polls, all of whom will be wrestling Saturday. Cyclone heavyweight Matt Gibson is Iowa State’s highest ranked wrestler, coming in at No. 14. Gibson, a senior, will be looking for a strong start to the season after being crowned a Big 12 champion last year.
Jackson believes that this weekend’s tournament can be a springboard for not only Gibson, but the entire squad.
“For all of our guys, this could be the start of a big year,” Jackson said. “If you perform well in early tournaments and early matches, it takes your confidence to another level. This is an opportunity to get on a roll early.”
Four Iowa State freshmen that will be taking the mat Saturday will be looking to build on titles they won at last weekend’s Kaye Young Open. Kyle Larson (133), Gabe Moreno (149), Lelund Weatherspoon (165) and Tyler Swope (HWT) all won titles at the Kaye Young Open.
Moreno, a freshmen out of Urbandale, Iowa, was dominant at the Kaye Young Open, going 4-0 at the tournament. Moreno recorded three pins in his first three matches, all of which came in the first two minutes of the first period. In the championship match at 149, Moreno beat fellow Cyclone, sophomore Luke Swalla, by a score of 4-1.