Cyclone Family Well-Represented


I'm really looking forward to the World Team Trials this weekend for a few reasons. This will be my first time attending a Freestyle/Greco competition. The winners will represent the United States later this year at the World Wrestling Championships. I couldn't have picked a better opportunity and since this is being held in Ames, I can hardly wait for the weekend.


The second reason for my excitement is because it will be an opportunity to watch some former Cyclones compete in Hilton again. My guess is most after having completed their eligibility at ISU never thought they would get a chance to wrestle in Hilton again.  The majority of the former Cyclones haven't been gone from ISU very long, and they have already made names for themselves at the next level.


Here's a quick look at the former Cyclones who have qualified:


Matt Azevedo (55 kg) wrestled at ISU during the 2000-2001 season, having transferred from Arizona State. He was a 3 time NCAA qualifier. He is currently an Assistant Coach at Cal Poly. He has continued to climb up the U.S. National Rankings the past couple of years and is currently ranked #2.


Zach Roberson (60 kg) capped his final season at ISU by winning a National Title at 133. The four times Kansas state champion and 3 time all American finished his career with winning 106 matches which tied him for 23rd on the ISU all time career wins list. Zach finished 2nd during the initial Real Pro Wrestling season, he is currently ranked 5th in the National Rankings. 


Chris Bono (66 kg) has already qualified for the finals this weekend by virtue of winning the US Nationals title earlier in the year. The current ISU Assistant was a 3 time all American, finishing 5th as a sophomore, 1st as a junior and 2nd in his senior campaign. His 130 wins rank him 5th on the ISU all time wins list. Named the NWCA Assistant Coach of the Year for 2001-2002, Chris is trying to become a 3 time World Team qualifier, having previously won in 2001 & 2002. He is currently ranked 1st in the U.S. National rankings.


Joe Heskett (74 kg) finished his final season at ISU by claiming his 1st National title. The four time all American had finished 2nd the previous 2 years, and claimed 3rd place honors in his first season. The four time academic all American and 3 time Big 12 Champion is also an Assistant Coach at Cal Poly. Joe is currently ranked 3rd. I was looking forward to seeing him wrestle this weekend, but unfortunately an injury may keep him from competing this weekend.


Nick Passolano (74 kg) is a fairly new to the National Freestyle scene after just completing his final season with Iowa State. The four time NCAA qualifier opened some eyes by finishing 5th at the 2005 U.S. Senior Nationals. His only setbacks were to 2nd and 3rd place finishers. Probably most remembered by some for his 38 second pin in the dual win over Iowa 2 years ago, his recent showing in Las Vegas has earned him a current U.S. National ranking of 6th. 


Zach Thompson (96 kg) has been competing in Freestyle since his graduation from ISU in 2001. He finished his career as a two time all American, garnering a runner up finish his junior year. His 122 career victories rank him 11th all time at ISU. He is also currently on the ISU staff as the Director of Wrestling Operations. He is currently 6th in the most recent U.S. National rankings.


Mark Knauer (96 kg) is competing for a spot on the Greco Team. He finished his career at ISU with 72 wins. He was a 3 time NCAA qualifier, and named to the all Academic Big 12 team all 4 years. He qualified for the Trials by finishing 7th at U.S. Senior Nationals, and is currently ranked 7th.


Former Cyclones aren't the only reason I am looking forward to heading to Ames. We also have a few current Cyclones competing and it is exciting what these young men are accomplishing at such an early age on the National scene at this level. Although it's a different style, the experience they are gaining should carry over as they continue on with their collegiate careers.


Here's a quick look at the current Cyclones who have qualified:


Nate Gallick (60 kg) is 2nd in the most recent Rankings and is trying to qualify for his 1st Sr. National Team. Nate has followed up his 2nd place finish at the NCAA Nationals by wrestling well in Freestyle events. He won the Sunkist Invitational, and placed 2nd in Las Vegas at Sr. Nationals. He was a member of the U.S. team at the 2003 World FILA Junior Championships. The 2 time Big 12 Champion and 2 times all American will be a senior next year.


Travis Paulson (74 kg) qualified for the weekend by winning the Northern Plains Regional. A relative newcomer to Senior Freestyle competition, the 2 time NCAA qualifier & 1 time all American will hopefully gain some experience for the future. The former 3 time Iowa State champion will be a junior next year.


David Bertilino (84 kg) qualified for the World Trials by finishing 7th in Las Vegas. The former Amateur Wrestling News prep all American and 2002 AAU Junior Olympic Gold Medallist should be able to gain some experience that he can carry over next year into his sophomore season and beyond at ISU.


My final reason I'm really looking forward to the weekend may sound a little strange, but I think it's understandable. During football season, when the weather is great, the tailgate is as much a part of the game day experience as the game itself. Spending time with friends and family, and then watching ISU compete is something I really enjoy. As a fan of the wrestling program at ISU, I get some of those same feelings as I do on football Saturdays. I anticipate seeing friends I've known, and new friends I've met while following the team throughout the years. It's always great to see and talk to family members as we come together to cheer on their sons or brothers. I show up ready to cheer them to victory, knowing that isn't always going to happen. It seems like a roller coaster ride sometimes, but win or lose, we do it together.


The wrestling program at ISU is a "family", and it starts with the coaching staff and the wrestlers. It includes their families and it goes all the way down to the fans. Wrestlers may come and go, but one thing is certain, the Cyclone in them remains and I'm looking forward to seeing both the past and current Cyclones compete again this weekend win or lose.  


I plan on doing my part to hopefully bring some "Hilton Magic" to the Cyclone "Family" members who will be trying to qualify for the U.S. World teams in either Freestyle or Greco. There are still tickets available to watch our Cyclones and some of the best wrestlers in the World compete. Hope to see you there. 



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