AMES – Kanen Storr’s decision to transfer from the Iowa State wrestling program might’ve been a blessing in disguise for the Cyclones.
Storr’s transfer was announcedlast Tuesday, five weeks away from the Big 12 Championships.
“I look at it like this,” associate head coach Mike Zadick said. “I’m not married, but if I had a girlfriend or if I was married and I came home and she put a nice plate of dinner on the table and was in love with another man, it probably just wouldn’t work. It was a situation where you can’t be half in and in love with something else. That’s where we’re at and when we’re trying to change the culture and get going in the right direction – the sooner the better. Decisions were made and we wish him the best.”
Ian Parker, who was at 133 pounds, bumped up to 141 pounds to fill the hole Storr left last weekend. He wrestled three-time NCAA qualifier Mike Longo of Oklahoma and two-time defending NCAA Champion Dean Heil of Oklahoma.
He beat both of them.
“He’s probably the best guy for the weight,” Zadick said. “It’s not like there was a step back for us. It was kind of new and improved and we just have to build off of that. It’s somebody in the room, working, who wants to be a part of this program and believes in the coaching staff and you guys got to see it. We kind of knew it and saw what the potential was.
“Did we think he’d go this weekend and knock off a two-time national champion – which I was pretty excited about, I think it’s the first time this program has knocked off a national champ in like 10 years.”
It was eight years. The last time an Iowa State wrestler beat a national champion was in 2010 when Dave Zabriskie beat Missouri’s Mark Ellis.
“You don’t just get lucky and knock off a two-time national champion,” Zadick said. “There has to be an unbelievably strong mind when you step on the mat that you believe in yourself and your ability and in what you’ve been doing – not just going out and wrestling and get lucky. He believed in it, went out and executed what he’s been talked to about and built up and it worked.
“That to me is pretty powerful from an overall program standpoint. Just from the standard of where we were nine months ago, to now, a guy can step on the mat and think he can beat a two-time champ and then go beat him.”
Parker’s move up means Markus Simmons is the guy at 133 pounds for Iowa State. The coaches have liked Simmons’ ability, but he needs to buy in a little more.
Coach Kevin Dresser said Simmons has a tendency to cut corners when cutting weight.
“He’s been hearing the same message from us since he’s gotten here, but now that you get the nod and you have that spot, you can’t just turn on the switch and it’s all there, it’s a course of preparation over time,” Zadick said. “He’s had it, but he hasn’t had it right. Now he’s getting showcased in the limelight at 133 and there is no corner cutting and there’s no easy way of doing it. You just have to face it head on and you’ll see change in the kid – he just needs his hand held a little bit.
“Once that catches fire and he gets in the grove of that, he has a lot of potential, he has a lot of high-side to his wrestling, it’s just that sometimes you fight the human nature that wants to go the path of least resistance. Right now, with balancing academics and all of that, you have to get it smoothed out.”
Losing a high-level wrestler like Storr isn’t easy for a program, but for Iowa State, it might just turn out ok.
“It’s random that the timing was that way, but for the long-term of the program, it’s a great thing,” Zadick said.