2004-05 Season Outlook

October 18, 2004

Wrestling is a unique sport. In order for a team to succeed, a group of 10 individuals need to compete at their best. But unlike many other team sports, one wrestler cannot physically help another in the heat of battle. In football, an offensive lineman can make a block for a running back that leads to a game-winning touchdown, but in wrestling the only thing each competitor can do to help his team to victory is to win his match and win it big. The Iowa wrestling team has had that philosophy for many years, and it is no different for the 2004-05 Hawkeyes.

“In order for us to be successful, we have to have a solid, team effort,” explained Head Coach Jim Zalesky. “And in order for that to happen we need to have individuals who are pulling in the right direction and operating on the same page. That goes for everybody – wrestlers, staff, managers – basically everybody that is involved with the program.”

A new coaching staff is in the process of helping Zalesky prepare the best wrestler at each weight class to represent Iowa on the mat. The quartet of assistant coaches are Troy Steiner and Tim Hartung, volunteer assistant coach Mike Zadick and strength and conditioning coach Cliff Moore. They bring a combined total of 13 all-America honors, nine Big Ten individual titles and four NCAA individual titles from their collegiate careers. Steiner, Zadick and Moore all competed at Iowa, while Hartung competed at Minnesota. He is the first non-Iowa graduate to serve as a Hawkeye assistant coach since Michigan’s Mark Johnson joined the staff in 1982-83.

“The new coaching staff has a lot of fire and motivation,” said Zalesky. “They also have a passion for the sport, which is so important. That makes the wrestlers excited to come in and work with them.”

The Hawkeyes experienced success last year, winning the Big Ten team title and placing second at the NCAA Championships. Zalesky was named Big Ten Coach of the Year, qualifying a nation-leading 10 wrestlers to the NCAA Championships and guiding the team to an 11-4 dual mark. Gone from that lineup are NCAA and Big Ten Champion Cliff Moore (141) and all-Americans Luke Eustice (125), Tyler Nixt (174) and Ryan Fulsaas (197). The quartet was responsible for 202 of Iowa’s 399 team points scored in dual competition last year and all four started the last three seasons.

All-American Paul Bradley

Iowa’s returnees from the 2003-04 season are a young, but experienced group. Senior Trent Goodale (133), juniors Paul Bradley (184), Ty Eustice (149), Joe Johnston (157) and Cole Pape (157) and sophomore Ryan Fuller (Hwt.) all qualified for the NCAA Championships in 2004. Bradley is the lone returning all-American. Eustice and Johnson have two seasons of competition under their belts, while Goodale, Pape and Fuller are entering their second.

“We have guys coming back with some limited experience and quite a few newcomers who could give us some spark,” said Zalesky. “How well we do as a team will depend on how prepared those guys are when they step out on the mat. Guys have to steadily improve in order for us have team success.”

According to Zalesky, every position in the lineup is up for grabs. Everyone, even the 11 newcomers, will be battling for a spot.

“We must have competition at every weight class to get the best out of each wrestler,” said Zalesky. “If guys are battling and pushing each other, it makes everyone better.”

Iowa’s newcomers are Michael Bucklin (Colfax, IA), Derek Coorough (Hillsboro, WI), Charlie Falck (Strawberry Point, IA), Matt Fields (Lowden, IA), Mario Galanakis (Greenfield, IA), Luke Lofthouse (Avon, UT), Jacob Neuzil (Riverside, IA), Nate Nicholson (Ottumwa, IA), Dane Pape (Maquoketa, IA) and Alex Tsirtsis (Griffith, IN). Fields was the top-ranked high school heavyweight in the nation last season. The group combined for 16 state titles, nine undefeated seasons and a prep career record of 1,525-167. Pape is also the younger brother of Hawkeye junior Cole Pape..

Here is a weight-by-weight breakdown for the 2004-05 Hawkeyes:

The front runners to fill the spot held by all-American Luke Eustice for the last three seasons are sophomores Lucas Magnani and Jeff Pfaffinger. Magnani redshirted last season after transferring from Brown University. He placed fifth at the E.I.W.A. meet as a freshman. Pfaffinger went 4-5 last season. Junior Matt Morkel and freshman Charlie Falck will also be vying for the spot. Morkel went 11-7 last season, and has a 19-16 career mark. Falck was a four-time state champion for Apple Valley High School in Minnesota, earning the Mr. Minnesota title as a senior. His 213-11 prep career record helped Apple Valley to four state titles.

Senior Trent Goodale is one of four seniors on the squad, and the only one with varsity experience. He placed seventh at the 2004 NCAA Championships and posted an 8-18 record. Junior Mario Galanakis transferred in after competing for Ellsworth Community College the last two years. He compiled a 74-9 record at 133 pounds at Ellsworth, placing third at the Junior National tournament as a sophomore. While Galanakis is a newcomer, he brings some collegiate experience to the mat and will challenge Goodale. Senior Gabe Rukala and redshirt freshman Ruben Chavez will also battle for mat time.

The Hawkeyes will have a large hole to fill with Cliff Moore’s graduation. The three-time all-American and two-time Big Ten champion was 33-2 last season and ended his career on a 20-match winning streak. The likely replacements are senior Ned Shuck or freshmen Alex Tsirtsis or Derek Coorough. Shuck went 4-4 last season. Tsirtsis was a four-time state champion for Griffith High School, compiling an undefeated career mark of 236-0. Coorough was a two-time high school state and conference champion at Hillsboro High School.

Junior Ty Eustice

Junior Ty Eustice is the front runner with two seasons of experience at 149 pounds. He went 54-19 those two seasons, placing second at the Big Ten Championships as a redshirt freshman and third last year, but has failed to place at the NCAA Championships. Challengers include sophomores Alex Grunder and Brett Stedman, and redshirt freshman Brad Medchill. Grunder went 5-3 last season, while Stedman posted an 0-3 mark and Medchill went 4-4 competing unattached.

Johnston has wrestled here the last two seasons, going 33-15 as a redshirt freshman and 27-11 last season. He placed fourth at the Big Ten Championships in 2004 and fifth in 2003, but has not placed at the NCAA meet. His biggest challenger will be junior Cole Pape, who is moving down from 165 where he posted a 12-9 record last year. Pape will not be available until after the first of the year, as he recovers from surgery. Other challengers include sophomores Oleg Polyatskiy, Ben Stedman and Joe Uker, and freshman Nate Nicholson. Polyatskiy went 7-1 last season, while Stedman posted a 4-6 record and Uker went 9-7.

Junior Joe Johnston

Redshirt freshman Mark Perry is the leading contender. He went 4-0 and won the Northern Iowa Open competing unattached last season. Zalesky said Perry had a good redshirt year and can score from any position. Some of the 157-pounders may move up to challenge or provide depth.

The Hawkeyes have another hole to fill with the graduation of all-American and three-year starter Tyler Nixt, who went 36-3 last season. Senior Adam Fellers has been in the program for three years and has a good shot to make the lineup. Freshman Luke Lofthouse may drop down to challenge or provide depth. Lofthouse was a three-time state champion and Utah state wrestler of the year for Mountain Crest High School.

Bradley is the frontrunner here, going 26-11 last season. He placed second at the Big Ten Championships and fourth at the NCAA meet. He and Moore also led the team in pins (6) last year.

This is another weight where an inexperienced wrestler will have to step up and replace a successful graduate. Ryan Fulsaas turned an up-and-down career into second-place finishes at the 2004 Big Ten and NCAA Championships. It’s up to senior Major Ennen or true freshmen Michael Bucklin, Luke Lofthouse or Dane Pape to step forward. Ennen has been in the Hawkeye program for three years, but has yet to see time in the varsity lineup. Bucklin won one state and three conference titles at Colfax-Mingo High School, going undefeated as a senior. Pape won four conference titles for Maquoketa High School.

Sophomore Ryan Fuller returns from an 18-19 season and a seventh-place Big Ten finish last year. He will be challenged by freshman Matt Fields and sophomore Chad Barkalow. Fields was regarded by many as the top heavyweight in the nation as a high school senior. He was a two-time state champion at North Cedar High School, going undefeated as a junior and senior. Barkalow went 4-4 last year while competing unattached.