First off at 125 pounds Ben Hanisch has worked his way into a .500 record of 10-10 and really is yet to hit his stride as a Cyclone wrestler. His performance has reflected largely like how well the team has performed overall. Hanisch has had some small victories in some early tournaments but has not been able to come through in the clutch like in the Iowa meet where his match with Lucas Magnani was supposed to be one of the "toss-up" matches but Hanisch was handled by Magnani 11-3 for a major decision. Hanisch did have a nice 10-0 major decision over Marcos Orozco of UC Davis and almost came away with an upset of #6 Jeremy Mendoza of Arizona State as he fell 1-0 in Iowa State's trip to Arizona on Sunday. Overall rating on a scale of 1 to 10; a 6.
At 133 pounds Jesse Sundell has definitely been the most improved wrestler since the beginning of the season. After a tough start to the season, Sundell looked like he could be one of the biggest disappointments that has ever filtered through the Cyclone wrestling program but the Midlands Tournament has changed this man and my expectations for him. Sundell (12-8) came into the Midlands with a tough 7th seed and had to wrestle the #2 seed Jason Borrelli of Central Michigan in his quarterfinal match. He pulled off the upset 7-6 and fought his way to the championship bought but lost 9-7 to Cal State Backersfield's Tommy Vargas. "Jesse Sundell made great progress throughout this tournament," said Douglas. "Unfortunately, he was not quite able to pull off the victory. There is no doubt, however, that Jesse is the most improved wrestler on our team right now." Sundell has followed up that performance with an 11-6 win over Moran of Virginia Tech and two pins in Iowa State's Arizona trip. Look for big things from this guy as he heads into the last half of his last college wrestling season. Overall performance; a 7.
There is really not much that you have to say about Nate Gallick (141) because his record says it all, perfect. A perfect 19-0, Gallick has fought his way to his second consecutive Midlands crown with a two overtime victory over 4th ranked Andy Simmons and has already avenged his only blemish of last year from Teyon Ware of Oklahoma State. Gallick knows that nothing short of a NCAA championship would be a disappointment and I see him accomplishing that goal by season's end. Overall performance; a 10.
149 pounds has been a weight that has been decent for the Cyclones with Jason Knipp and Aron Scott recently splitting some time there. Scott (10-5) has shown some promise with two technical falls in his last three matches. This is one of the weights that needs to step up and show us some things if Iowa State is going to make a splash in the NCAA Championships in March. Overall performance; a 7.
Trent Paulson (157) has been one of those core members on this wrestling team that you can usually count on to get the job done when the meet is on the line. Trent is 14-1 and ranked #2 in the nation but has not been able to wrestle since December 18 when he dismantled Cal-Poly's Ryan Williams 15-6. Douglas has not disclosed the reasoning behind Trent's inability to wrestle lately. The Cyclones need this guy at full strength for their stretch run so it's good for him to rest up and be 100% healthy. Overall performance; a 9.
Travis Paulson (165) is another one of those core members that have been solid all season for the Cyclones. Travis (21-1) came into the Midlands Tournament as the #1 seed but stumbled to a 3rd place finish and gave up his only blemish of the season. The 8th ranked wrestler has quickly bounced back with three wins after the Midlands which included a 3-1 win over 10th ranked Patrick Pitsch of Arizona State. Travis is much better then the 8th best wrestler at 165 pounds and he will have a chance to prove that this weekend at the National Duals in Cedar Falls. Overall performance; a 9.
David Bertolino at 174 pounds is a wrestler with great potential but just has not shown all that he is capable of. Bertolino (11-7) came through with a nice pin of Arizona State's Alex Pavlenko to help Iowa State come through with a big win over the Sun Devils on Sunday. This is the kind of stuff that the Cyclones need from him and can get from him but he needs one thing, consistency. Overall performance; a 6.
Kurt Backes (184) is a wrestler that I believe is on the edge of greatness but just needs that one big win to spark him on to a great season. Backes (11-3) was handed his first loss of the season when Paul Bradley of Iowa took him down 8-4 in a close, questionable match but he has bounced back with a big pin over then 6th ranked Ryan Halsey of Cal Poly. If the 6th ranked Backes is going to start rolling toward the NCAA Championships now is the time to pick up the pace and sweep through the National Duels. Overall performance; an 8.
Joe Curran (197) is a talented true freshman but he has wrestled like a true freshman through the first half of this season. Curran (10-9) has recorded big wins over 5th seeded Joe Dennis of Cleveland State in the Midlands Tournament and Adam Fellers of Iowa. He has put himself in some precarious positions that he has paid for with some tough losses. This guy has some great potential and can only get better as he works with Cael Sanderson in the wrestling room. Overall performance; a 6.
The HWT class was a known tough spot coming into the season and those low expectations have stayed low. Richard Schopf has struggled through a 2-10 season so far but still has time to reconcile some of those losses because there is a lot of wrestling to be done. Schopf just has not had that fire and intensity that you would like to see out of him but Douglas and Sanderson will do their best to get that fire lit. Overall performance; a 3.
This Iowa State team has done really what was expected out of them so far this year because of their youth but expectations should get higher if Trent Paulson can get healthy and some of the younger guys will start to use the experience that they have gained so far this year. This team has what it takes to make a difference in March but the standard has to be set with those core veteran wrestlers finishing out the season on top and the younger wrestlers following the example.