AMES — David Carr shook hands with his vanquished opponent, took a deep breath and circled the Hilton Coliseum floor for a victory lap.
Iowa State’s star 165-pound wrestler had earned it.
Carr won by technical fall Sunday, providing the No. 4 Cyclones with much-needed bonus points in a tense 19-15 triumph over third-ranked Arizona State.
“(Strength coach Ben Durbin) said it would be kind of cool if I went and gave some people some high fives after a match, just to get the fans kind of pumped up,” said Carr, a three-time All-American and 2021 NCAA champion. “They paid good money to come sit that close and (it was) to get fired up for the next guy coming out — and (174-pounder Julien) Broderson delivered.”
So did third-ranked Carr, who improved to 11-0 this season in the 17-2 victory over No. 28 Tony Negron. The Cyclones (8-2) won the first five matches of the dual, but lost the final five, as well. The last two — at 141 and 149 pounds — were sudden victory setbacks to No. 10 Casey Swiderski and third-ranked Paniro Johnson.
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“Sometimes you get those ugly W’s and this was an ugly W,” ISU head coach Kevin Dresser said.
But a win’s a win — and Sunday’s was the second over a No. 3 ranked team in the past two seasons. ISU hadn’t beaten a top-three team for 12 years before breaking through with a 20-12 win over No. 3 Oklahoma State last season. So the program’s trajectory continues to trend upward, even if a couple tough individual setbacks Sunday were mild causes for concern.
“It’s early January and we’re all about greater later,” Carr said. “It’s good to beat a good time like this. We’ve wrestled a tough schedule. We’ve wrestled Cornell, Penn State — we’ve wrestled a lot of guys and we still have Okie State, we still have UNI, we still have a lot of good teams to wrestle. So it’s early on. I say learn right now and greater later. I want to see our best version of ourself when we put that singlet on in March.”
ISU completed its run through the top-three ranked teams in the country. The Cyclones lost to No. 1 Penn State, 22-12, and second-ranked Iowa, 18-15, earlier this season, but now are poised to join those team in the top three after Sunday’s victory over the Sun Devils.
“I think our gas tank in places is getting better and that’s what I wanted to do,” Dresser said. “So I see a lot of progress. We’ve got a lot of things we can go fix and that’s kind of nice for a coach sometimes.”
ISU 157-pounder Jason Kraisser started the dual with a convincing 7-0 triumph and Carr followed with his five-point win. Broderson then notched a major decision at 174 and No. 4 Marcus Coleman and No. 5 Yonger Bastida both won by decision to give the Cyclones what proved to be an insurmountable 19-0 lead.
“I think we wrestled hard, but we also learned a lot (about) things to work on,” Kraisser said.
In other words, the biggest victory laps are yet to come for Carr and company — as long as they keep improving.
“We’ve got some star power,” Dresser said. “And when you get them hitting on all cylinders they’re pretty good.”