ST. LOUIS, Mo. — Before the opening session of the NCAA Division I wrestling championships Thursday, Kevin Dresser found himself in an unusual spot.
Dresser, who was named Iowa State’s new head wrestling coach last month, was standing outside waiting to get inside the Scottrade Center with all the other ticket holders.
“I’m waiting in line just like everybody else” Dresser smiled. “It was different (watching from the stands).”
Dresser, a Humboldt native and a former Iowa national champion, left his highly successful Virginia Tech program to replace Kevin Jackson at ISU. He knows work needs to be done to return the Cyclones to national prominence.
ISU qualified just three wrestlers and scored one point before all three were eliminated with the Cyclones tied for 57th place. It was just the third time since 1962 ISU has not had an All-American.
That came on the heels of a 1-12 dual season that cost Jackson his job.
“Obviously, there is work to do right now and I don’t want to take anything away from the three kids who competed this weekend,” Dresser said. “We have to go back to work and that means all underclassmen who are listening to this interview need to be ready to go on Monday morning.”
Dresser talked about changing the culture in Ames, but said first he’s got to evaluate the overall program.
“We’ve got to figure out what is wrong first, figure out what we need to fix and start fixing things,” Dresser said. “We had a great team meeting a week and a half ago. I think (the athletes) are excited. They were listening and that is what you have to do.
“I wasn’t preaching a lot, but you have to start preaching and serving the Kool-aid and so they got their first dose of Coach Dresser’s Kool-aid and we have to keep feeding it to them and keep feeding it to them and keep feeding it to them and make it a part of who they are.”
Dresser feels he has more to start with than he did at Virginia Tech, where he had to recruit better talent into the program before he could start worrying about national finishes. He believes the Cyclones are a lot closer to the top than the 57th-best team in the country.
“Next season should be my goal and I said that when I got hired at Virginia Tech,” Dresser said of finishing in the top 10. “We have a lot more to sell at Iowa State than what we did 11 years ago at Virginia Tech. Iowa State has tradition to sell.”