Iowa State coach Kevin Dresser previews the Cyclones’ outlook ahead of the Big 12 Championships.
Des Moines Register
The Iowa State wrestling team has, tentatively, added another Big Ten Conference opponent and another unique venue to its 2020-21 schedule.
The Cyclones plan to wrestle Purdue on Dec. 20, both coaches informed the Des Moines Register. The date and dual are tentative while Purdue awaits its final Big Ten schedule for next season.
And here’s the best part — the dual will take place at Humboldt High School, where both head coaches, Iowa State’s Kevin Dresser and Purdue’s Tony Ersland, competed in high school.
“It’s a unique opportunity,” Ersland said. “We want to create an environment and help grow the sport. We’re both invested in this.
“It’ll be special and fun, and you’re going to have some good matchups, too.”
Both coaches said that if Dec. 20 doesn’t work, they’re committed to moving to another date.
Iowa State and Purdue have been on the rise in recent years — both were expected to contend for top-10 finishes at this year’s NCAA Championships before the event was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic — which makes the December clash all the more intriguing.
Purdue went 12-5 overall and finished No. 15 in Trackwrestling’s Division I poll this season, Ersland’s sixth in charge. Eight Boilermakers qualified for the NCAA Championships and six will return next season (including Western Dubuque graduate Max Lyon at 184 pounds). Purdue took fifth at the Big Ten Championships earlier this month.
The Cyclones finished 10-5 overall and qualified nine wrestlers for the national tournament, with eight returning for the 2020-21 season. In Dresser’s third season as coach, Iowa State sat at No. 14 in Trackwrestling’s national poll and finished second at the Big 12 Championships for the second year in a row.
The fuel behind this idea came from Bruce Reimers, another Humboldt native and former Iowa State football player who spent a decade in the NFL.
“He found me on Facebook a couple of years ago and said, ‘Hey, you guys should do this, it would be cool,’” Ersland said. “I reached out to Dresser, and hit me up at the end of this season. We went back and forth and got it hammered out.”
The dual will also act as a small homecoming for both coaches.
Dresser won state titles for Humboldt in 1980 and 1981 before going to Iowa, where he won an NCAA championship in 1986. Ersland won state titles in 1991 and 1992 for the Wildcats and also wrestled for legendary coach Dan Gable in Iowa City.
Dresser went on to a successful high school coaching tenure in Virginia, then built Virginia Tech into a mainstay among college wrestling’s elite before coming to Ames. Ersland had stops at Central Michigan, Northern Illinois, Northwestern, the Cyclone Wrestling Club in Ames and at Nebraska before landing with Purdue ahead of the 2014-15 season.
“I think his last text to me was, ‘Hey, let’s do (Dec. 20), so then you can stay home afterward for Christmas,'” Ersland said with a laugh.
This also would not be the first time Iowa State has wrestled at an unusual venue.
In Dresser’s first two years, the Cyclones held a dual at Stephens Auditorium, near Hilton Coliseum. In January, Iowa State faced Arizona State, Campbell and Harvard at Chase Field in Phoenix, home of the Diamondbacks. It was the first college wrestling event held at a Major League Baseball stadium and dubbed “Duals on the Diamond.”
Even more, Humboldt wrestling coach Chad Beaman hopes to schedule a high-school dual beforehand, as an appetizer before Iowa State and Purdue hit the mat. He said he expects a full gym in support of two former wrestlers who are now Division I coaches.
“This whole thing sounds awesome,” Beaman said. “We’re very excited for both coaches. Our gym will be packed that night, and it might even be louder than it normally is at Hilton. I’m excited.”
Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.
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Source: Des Moines Register