Sept. 30, 2005
IOWA CITY, IA –
The combination of depth and experience, on a team, is something coaches dream about. That dream will be a reality for Head Coach Jim Zalesky and the 2005-06 Iowa wrestling team. The Hawkeyes return nine of 10 starters, and six of seven NCAA qualifiers from last season. That number includes Iowa’s four individual all-Americans and two NCAA finalists.
“We’ve got a lot of experience back and have depth at most weights,” said Zalesky. “Last year, guys were just thrown in the lineup because we were thin. That won’t be a problem this season.”
In 2004-05, seven newcomers dotted the Hawkeye starting lineup. Adding to the new faces in the wrestling room were Zalesky’s recent hires of assistant coaches Tim Hartung, Troy Steiner, Mike Zadick and Cliff Moore. Dealing with inexperience, the team put together a 10-5 dual record, a fourth-place finish at the Big Ten Championships and a seventh-place finish at the NCAA meet. It was the first time since 1969 that Iowa did not crown an individual Big Ten Champion, and its lowest finish at the conference meet since 1967.
“Last year we were trying to build off one all-American,” explained Zalesky. “This year we have two returning NCAA finalists, four all-Americans and six guys with NCAA Championship experience. Last year, we didn’t have any starting seniors. This year we could have five or six. There are a lot of guys in this program that have stuck around, stuck with us and want to go out on top.”
The senior trio of Ty Eustice (149), Joe Johnston (157) and Paul Bradley (184) have two seasons of varsity competition and NCAA Championship experience. Bradley is a two-time all-American, while Eustice and Johnston each earned the honor last season. Iowa’s other seniors looking to fight their way into the lineup one last time are Trent Goodale (133), Cole Pape (165), and Adam Fellers (197).
Senior two-time all-American Paul Bradley
Also returning for Iowa is all-American and NCAA finalist Mark Perry, who will be moving up to 174 pounds. Junior Ryan Fuller (Hwt.), who competed in the varsity lineup in 2003-04, also returns and looks to make a run at the spot this season. The sophomore trio of Charlie Falck (125), Alex Tsirtsis (141) and Matt Fields (Hwt.) were three newcomers who earned varsity spots last season. They survived bumpy freshman years, with Tsirtsis and Fields qualifying for the NCAA Championships. But, according to Zalesky, none of Iowa’s returnees should take their lineup spots for granted.
“Nobody has their spot automatically, regardless of past accomplishments,” said Zalesky. “If somebody is competing at a high level, we are going to give them a look. There will be some great battles for starting spots this season. Our main objective to get back on top and win an NCAA title. We are trying to get 10 guys to win NCAA titles or at least be all-Americans.”
The Hawkeyes hope a strong nine-man recruiting class will provide immediate depth throughout the lineup. The class, which was ranked ninth in the nation by Amateur Wrestling News and W.I.N. Magazine, is led by three-time state champion Ryan Morningstar (157) of Lisbon, IA, two-time state champions Phillip Keddy (174) of Vernal, UT, and Chad Beatty (184) of Wilton, IA, and state champions Thomas Magnani (125) of Long Island, NY, Eric Luedke (165) of Colby, KS, and Dan Erekson (197) of Eagle, ID. Luedke, who enters as a junior, was a two-time NJCAA champion for Colby Community College. Keddy pinned 80 percent of his high school opponents, while Erekson stuck 78 percent and Morningstar decked 65 percent.
“With the newcomers, we want to see how they do in competition before we decide to redshirt them,” said Zalesky. “It won’t be like last year when we were forced to use so many new faces. At each weight, the newcomer might be competitive, but they will have two or three guys ahead of them who have been here longer and are going to fight for that position. If it is best to redshirt any of our guys, we’ll do it. If it’s not, we won’t. One thing for sure, we want and need everyone to be training like they are going to wrestle this season and win a national title.”
Senior all-American Ty Eustice
Iowa’s 2005-06 schedule features home duals with Northern Iowa (Dec. 8), Oklahoma State (Jan. 7), Purdue (Jan. 27), Penn State (Feb. 3), Illinois (Feb. 10), Northwestern (Feb. 12) and Boise State (Feb. 17), and road duals at Arizona State (Nov. 26), Iowa State (Dec. 2), Wisconsin (Jan. 20), Minnesota (Jan. 22), Indiana (Jan. 29) and Michigan State (Feb. 5). The Hawkeyes will rejoin the team field of the Cliff Keen/N.W.C.A. National Duals in Cedar Falls after not competing in the tournament the last two seasons. The 2006 Big Ten Championships will be held in Bloomington, IN, and the 2006 NCAA Championships will be held in Oklahoma City, OK.
Here is a weight-by-weight look at the 2005-06 Iowa Hawkeyes:
Falck and junior Lucas Magnani battled for the lineup spot early last season, with Falck prevailing. Falck posted a 14-11 season record, going 7-5 in dual competition. Magnani went 9-5, placing at the Spartan Classic, Kaufman-Brand Open and Midlands Championship. Providing depth will be Magnani’s younger brother, Thomas. They are one of Iowa’s four sets of brothers on this year’s roster.
With 2005 NCAA qualifier Mario Galanakis not returning to the team, senior Trent Goodale brings the most experience to the lineup. He posted an 8-18 overall record in 2003-04, placing seventh at the Big Ten Championships to qualify for the NCAA’s. Senior Gabe Ruhkala, sophomore Ruben Chavez and freshman Daniel Dennis will provide tough competition, as well as strong depth.
Tsirtsis went 22-12 in his rookie campaign, placing fifth at the Big Ten Championships. The sophomore placed sixth at the Midlands and posted a 9-6 dual mark. Redshirt freshman Derek Coorough will provide depth.
Sophomore all-American Mark Perry
Eustice looks to enter his fourth season at 149 for the Hawkeyes. His career record of 83-26 includes a 29-7 overall mark last season. The 2004 Midlands Champion won 19 of his first 20 matches, posting a dual mark of 12-3 and going 6-2 in conference duals. He led the team in overall wins (29) and placed third at the 2005 Big Ten Championships. His fifth-place finish at last season’s NCAA Championships earned him his first all-America honor. Juniors Alex Grunder and Brett Stedman will provide competition and depth.
Johnston will be entering his fourth season at 157. He earned his first all-America honor in 2005, when he placed second at the NCAA Championships. Johnston also placed third at the Big Ten meet. His overall season record of 26-8 included an 11-4 dual record and a 5-3 Big Ten dual mark. He scored 47 team points in dual competition, which ranked second on the team. He was named Iowa’s Big Ten Outstanding Sportsmanship award winner for wrestling. Johnston brings an 86-34 career record to his final Hawkeye season. Junior Joe Uker, sophomore Brad Medchill and freshman Ryan Morningstar will back up Johnston.
With Perry moving up to 174, there will be a tough battle for the 165-pound spot. The frontrunner is senior Cole Pape, who wrestled at 165 during the 2003-04 season, posting a 12-9 mark and placing sixth at the Big Ten Championships. Juniors Oleg Polyatskiy, Brett Stedman and Eric Luedke will be close behind. Redshirt freshman Jacob Neuzil and freshman Rick Loera will also be in the battle.
"Nobody has their spot automatically, regardless of past accomplishments," said Zalesky. "If somebody is competing at a high level, we are going to give them a look. There will be some great battles for starting spots this season. Our main objective to get back on top and win an NCAA title. We are trying to get 10 guys to win NCAA titles or at least be all-Americans."
Head Coach Jim Zalesky
Perry moves up to fill the spot vacated when sophomore Luke Lofthouse embarked on a two-year Mormon mission to Africa in July 2005. Perry posted a 27-5 overall mark last season, going 12-2 in duals and posting a team-best 7-1 mark in Big Ten duals. He also led the team in pins (6) and team points scored in dual competition (51). In his first season in the lineup, Perry won a Midlands title and was runner-up at both the Big Ten and NCAA Championships. Brett Stedhman, Loera and freshman Phillip Keddy will provide depth.
Bradley enters his third and senior year at 184. The two-time all-American went 24-9 last season, posting a 10-5 dual record and 4-4 Big Ten dual mark. He also placed fourth at the Big Ten Championships and fifth at the NCAA meet. Sophomore Dane Pape moves down from 197 to compete for mat time. Freshman Chad Beatty will also provide depth.
Dane Pape started the 2005 season here, but senior Adam Fellers moved up from 174 and competed most of the dual season. Despite the 23-pound deficit, Fellers went 4-14 and placed eighth at the Big Ten Championships. After a summer to bulk up, he will be the frontrunner. Freshmen Dan Erekson and Justin Neuzil will also compete.
Sophomore Matt Fields posted a 24-12 record in his first season with the Hawkeyes, going 10-5 in duals, 4-4 in Big Ten duals and placing fifth at the Big Ten Championships. But jenior Ryan Fuller, who went 18-19 and placed seventh at the Big Ten meet in 2003-04, isn’t about to go down without a fight. Junior Chad Barkalow and redshirt freshman Michael Bucklin will provide depth.