Big 12

Where Does Iowa State Go After Best Season In 15 Years?

Where Does Iowa State Go After Best Season In 15 Years?

Iowa State had its best season since Kevin Dresser took over the program. What can the Cyclones do for an encore?

Apr 3, 2024 by Kyle Klingman

Iowa State has plenty of reasons to feel good about the season that was. The Cyclones won the Cliff Keen-Las Vegas Invitational, the Collegiate Duals, and the Big 12 Championships. That’s on top of a 13-2 dual record and a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Championships.

“I felt like we made some good steps,” Iowa State coach Kevin Dresser said.

The Kevin Dresser Era At Iowa State

YearDual RecordBig 12 FinishNCAA FinishNCAA placersNCAA Qualifiers

Reflecting On Last Season

Iowa State continues to make gains following a 45th-place finish at the 2018 NCAA Championships during Dresser’s rookie year with the Cyclones. Dresser-led teams have had no fewer than eight NCAA qualifiers since his second season. 

“We improved again,” Dresser said. “I feel like we’ve made progress every year and that’s always the goal — especially when you come to a program and you’re starting over again. I think we were 57th (at the 2017 NCAA Championships) when we got here and we finished fourth this year — and I think we could have gotten a little bit higher.”

2024 NCAA Championships

WeightNameNCAA PlaceNCAA recordTeam Points2024-25 status
125Kysen TerukinaDNP1-20.5Returning
133Evan Frost6th4-39Returning
141Anthony Echemendia5th4-213.5Returning
149Casey Swiderski 7th4-27.5Returning
157Cody ChittumDNP1-22Returning
165David Carr1st5-022.5Graduated
174MJ GaitanR123-24.5Returning
184Will FeldkampDNP2-24.5Graduated

285Yonger BastidaR122-25.5Returning

Dresser’s Keys To Progress

“I think we’ve got a bunch of guys who are coachable in the practice room,” Dresser said. “I think we got better in practice and usually when you get better in practice you get better when you compete. 

“We still have some young guys who need to make some good strides in wrestling. They need to get better at wrestling but their work ethic and desire to get better at wrestling was really good. The team fed off each other as we got to the end of the year. The effort at practice was pretty consistent this year.”

What We Know About The 2024-25 Season

Iowa State has several key pieces returning next season, but Dresser isn’t sure where they will fit — yet. David Carr leaves the biggest void following a brilliant career that included four top-three finishes and a pair of NCAA titles. 

“I can’t tell you what next season will look like but we’re still in the middle of the portal season,” Dresser said. “I can tell you one or two weights but that’s about it.”

Dresser provided more than that. Here are four starters he projects will be in the line-up next season.

125: Kysen Terukina, Senior
133: Evan Frost, Sophomore
174: MJ Gaitan, Sophomore
285: Younger Bastida, Senior

What About The Other Weights?

Casey Swiderski, Cody Chittum, and Paniro Johnson have redshirt seasons. Anthony Echemendia competed at 141 but wants to move up to 149. Johnson missed last season due to gambling allegations, so he will likely fit into the line-up somewhere.

“We have to figure out 141, 149, and 157,” Dresser said. “We don’t know what’s going to happen at 165, 184, and 197, either. We have some guys we’re looking at who are coming to visit us in the next week or so. The portal business is still hopping.”

Who Will Iowa State Redshirt?

The Cyclones can’t sit everyone but Dresser is leaning toward redshirting Swiderski, which opens the door for Echemendia at 149. 

“We have the Frost brothers and we have Zach Redding in there,” Dresser said. “We have some really good depth from 133 up to 165.”

Playing The Portal Game

Iowa State won’t know a tentative line-up since the transfer portal is wide open. Dresser needs to fill holes left open by graduating seniors and weights lacking experience. 

“You have to play the game to be a top-five team,” Dresser said. “Unfortunately, you have to play the game if you have some inexperienced holes that you need to fill. You have to be somewhat aggressive. If you don’t, someone else will. 

“We do it a little differently. We wait until the kids get in the portal and then we reach out to them. We don’t reach out to them before they get into the portal and try to push them into the portal like quite a few Big Ten teams have decided to do recently.

“They have to earn their spot. Sometimes it’s just a matter of a young kid not being ready to go. If you want to be competitive, the philosophy is you have to have someone who is competitive at all 10 weights. 

“Last year, Evan Frost wasn’t ready to get in and score points for us. He needed another year in the cooker. We have some young guys who might need another year in the cooker and maybe an older guy can step in. Maybe a Tate Naaktgeboren (184) wasn’t ready to go this year so that’s why Will Feldkamp was great to have.”

Almost A Trophy Team

The top four teams used to receive trophies at the NCAA Championships, but that changed to three this season as a cost-saving measure. That means Iowa State’s fourth-place finish was a year too late. 

“It’s just my history with the NCAA,” Dresser said. “I get frustrated by the things they do and the decisions they make and I’m usually vocal about it. We get fourth and the guy who is pretty vocal about it doesn’t get a trophy, so it’s my fault. I’ll take the blame.”

Was Yonger The Difference?

Iowa State was four points away from finishing second. Heavyweight Yonger Bastida entered the NCAA Championships seeded second with an undefeated record but did not place after dropping a 6-4 match to Michigan’s Lucas Davison in the quarterfinals. A podium finish by Bastida may have pushed the Cyclones over the top. 

“I think he looked past Davison who was ready to go,” Dresser said. “You either have the hunter or the hunted mentally. I think he proved when he’s the hunter he’s really good. He got a takedown and stopped wrestling. 

“I always say there’s a curse when you go to the NCAA tournament undefeated because you’ve never had to wrestle back after a loss. He didn’t handle it very well. He wasn’t mentally the same guy Friday night as he was the other rounds.”

Dresser On Next Season

“I think we could have a really good team,” Dresser said. “We need to get a little more experience at a couple of weights. This summer will be about getting better at wrestling. I think we got the tough guys. I think we have the athletes. I think we have to get better at wrestling. 

“It’s not rocket science. You have to pull the trigger, get a takedown on Friday and Saturday at the NCAA tournament and you have to be able to get away on Friday and Saturday. That sounds easy but at a high level when you get to Friday and Saturday those guys don’t give away takedowns or escapes.”

“Coaching will always be about development. The recruiting process is so much different. You’re still trying to develop a sixth-year guy. The best part of my job is watching kids develop. Some people like the portal business because there’s the excitement every spring but you don’t get guys as long as you used to and sometimes that’s frustrating.”