Cyclone Wrestling - The Future

The bright future of Cyclone wrestling could come as early as next season. After having one of its best recruiting classes in recent memory, the Cyclones are primed to make some waves and challenge some national powerhouses in the next few seasons. Head coach Bobby Douglas insists on red-shirting freshmen to help them adjust to the demands of college wrestling; otherwise, we may have seen as many as four true freshmen in the starting lineup this year.

After one of its best starts in school history last year, the Iowa State wrestling team has taken some bumps and bruises over the course of the 2005-06 season.  After losing 125-pounder Grant Nakamura for the season to injury and graduating heavyweight Scott Coleman, 197-pounder Trevor Smith and 165-pounder Nick Passolano, the Cyclones were left with plenty of holes to fill throughout the lineup.


Though the season may not have started the same as last year's, the Cyclones have been able to earn consistent points from senior 141-pounder Nate Gallick and junior 157-pounder Trent Paulson.  Nate, from Tucson, AZ, is 27-0 through February 12th and has defeated two-time national champion Teyon Ware twice this year.  Trent, an All-American from Council Bluffs, is ranked second nationally and battled through illness over the holiday break to maintain his stature as one of the team's best.


With Nate and Trent leading the way, an inexperienced Cyclone lineup has made great strides from the start of the year.  Some of the team's inconsistency can be directly related to the youth in their lineup.  Entering the lineup full-time for the first time this year were walk-on sophomore Ben Hanisch, highly touted sophomore David Bertolino, true freshman Joe Curran, and walk-on junior Richard Schopf.  The four grapplers have had some exciting moments thus far but have only combined for 39 wins against 58 losses.  Those four, accompanied by mediocre performances by Aron Scott and Jason Knipp at 149-pounds have some Cyclone fans looking to the future.


The bright future of Cyclone wrestling could come as early as next season.  After having one of its best recruiting classes in recent memory, the Cyclones are primed to make some waves and challenge some national powerhouses in the next few seasons.  Head coach Bobby Douglas insists on red-shirting freshmen to help them adjust to the demands of college wrestling; otherwise, we may have seen as many as four true freshmen in the starting lineup this year.


The Cyclones signed six top wrestling recruits last year, including three in the top ten, and all of them should see the mat next season.  Nick Franthorpe, a rangy 125-pounder from Naperville, Ill., should find himself in the starting lineup to start the season.  In high school, he was a two-time Illinois state champion and a fourth-team Amateur Wrestling News All-American at 119 pounds.


Nick Gallick, Nate's younger brother, and Mitch Mueller should replace Nate and senior 133-pounder Jesse Sundell.  Mueller, from Iowa City, was the 135-pound champion at the National Junior Championships in 2005.  He never finished worse than third at the Iowa High School State Wrestling Championships and was named a sixth-team All-American by Amateur Wrestling News.


Mueller said he was happy to red-shirt this year because it gave him the opportunity to adjust to collegiate wrestling, get stronger and work on his technique.


"[Red-shirting] has helped a lot," Mueller said.  "Being in the wrestling room with Coach Douglas and Cael [Sanderson] has helped me become a better wrestler.  I've worked on my technique a lot and I've learned [a lot from wrestling with guys like Nate]."


Nick, who will look to follow a stellar career by his brother, finished the last three years of his high school career undefeated with 117 victories and ranked third nationally at 125-pounds.  He was the 2005 Arizona Republic Wrestler of the Year and a Wrestling USA All-American.  He will most likely challenge fellow freshman Laramie Schaffer from Winterset for the starting spot at 133-pounds.


Cyler Sanderson, continuing the Sanderson affair at Iowa State, should challenge for the spot at 149-pounds.  He was a four-time Utah state champion, ranked No. 1 at 140-pounds, and was a 2005 first-team Asics All-American.  Thought by some to be the Cyclones' top recruit last year, Cyler will need to beat out Jason Knipp and Aron Scott at 149-pounds next year.


Jake Varner, from the same California high school as Oklahoma State's Nathan Morgan, was a second-team Asics All-American and is the only wrestler in California history to pin all six opponents at the state tournament.  Finishing with a high school record of 159-10, Varner pinned 132 opponents and will look to be a force for the Cyclones at 197-pounds.


Dave Zabriskie, a heavyweight former Cyclone assistant Chris Bono said was the steal of the class, should provide a one-two punch with Varner at the heavy end of the weight classes.  A New Jersey state champion at 215-pounds his senior year, Zabriskie is an under sized heavyweight but said his quickness will be a big advantage for him.


"I would like to see myself around 235 or 240 pounds by next year," Zabriskie said.  "I'll almost never wrestle a guy that weighs less than me.  I'll use my quickness as a strength and I need to use it to my advantage in all of my matches."


Though he said he's trying to gain weight, the 225 pound Zabriskie said it's a lot harder than most people think.


"I've been working just as hard as everybody else," he said.  "There are high expectations for me.  I wrestle hard everyday to try to meet those expectations.  I wrestled [at 215 pounds] in high school so there was a big jump to college.  Right now I'm about 225 pounds.  I'm slowly gaining -- it's harder than you think."


Zabriskie said he loved Iowa State and opportunity for him here.  He also said his relationship with the other freshmen encourages him for the next four years.


"I definitely felt the atmosphere [at Iowa State] was pretty nice," he said.  "I think it is easier to keep your goals in line in a place like this.  It's peaceful and I like it here.  [The freshman] are all best friends.  We're all pretty close and you can see that in the practice room.  We all eat together and hang out almost every night."


In addition to the talented crop the Cyclones pulled in 2005, the 2006 class will keep Cyclone wrestling at the top for year to come.  Though the Cyclones inked only three signatures, one name stands out as possibly the next great Cyclone.


Jon Reader, a 152/160-pounder from Davison, Mich., will have a year to grow under the guidance of Douglas, Cael, and Trent and Travis Paulson before taking over in the middle of the lineup.  Ranked 11th overall by Intermat, Reader showed he can already wrestle at a college level – taking second at the Harold Nichols Open.  Reader wrestled Trent in the finals, losing 10-6.


Possibly a little under-sized, Centerville's T.J. Sebolt will suit up in a Cyclone singlet.  Iowa's all-time leader in career victories is ranked 50th overall by Intermat and is ranked No. 1 in Iowa at 130-pounds.  Sebolt, who has been dominant in Iowa, was named to the 2004 ASICS Tiger All-American first-team at 103 pounds.  Fellow All-American team members included:  Oklahoma State's Coleman Scott and Nathan Morgan, Minnesota's top-ranked 149-pound freshman Dustin Schlatter and Illinois' Mike Poeta.


Mark Kist, a 112-pounder from Eagle Grove, will try to work his way into the 125-pound position in the next few years.  After finishing 42-0 his junior year, Kist started his senior year ranked No. 1 at 112-pounds in Iowa, third nationally by Amateur Wrestling News, and 139th overall by Intermat.  Kist will need to add plenty of bulk to his frame and if he does, he could be a serious force for the Cyclones.


Overall, Bobby Douglas and his staff have done a great job with national recruiting over the last two years.  Between the two classes, only three wrestlers have come from within the state and five of the nine were ranked in the top 15 nationally.  Though the future looks promising, the Cyclones' current freshman will have a heavy load to carry when they fill over half of the lineup.  Next year may be a storied year for the program as they return 2005 All-American Trent Paulson at 157-pounds, 2004 All-Americans Travis Paulson at 165-pounds and Kurt Backes at 184-pounds and 174-pounder David Bertolino.


If the up and coming Cyclones struggle next year, however, they could be looking long and hard to find replacements for both Paulson brothers and Backes – all who graduate after next season.  With so many highly regarded wrestlers with more accolades than most others, Cyclone fans should be excited to see the team hit the mat next season.


Unofficial 2006-07 Projected Starting Lineup:

125     Nick Franthorpe        Freshman

133     Nick Gallick              Freshman

141     Mitch Mueller           Freshman

149     Cyler Sanderson       Freshman

157     Trent Paulson           Senior

165     Trent Paulson           Senior

174     David Bertolino         Junior

184     Kurt Backes             Senior

197     Jake Varner             Freshman

285     Dave Zabriskie          Freshman

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