ISU Wrestlers Ready to Make Impact at World-Level
AMES, Iowa - When it comes to the international scene of wrestling, Iowa State has always been well-represented. The Cyclones have boasted World and Olympic champions in the past. ISU currently has three wrestlers of past and present looking to continue that trend.
ISU head coach Kevin Jackson, the former U.S. freestyle head coach (2001-08) and 1992 Olympic gold medalist, would like to put a large, "Cyclone" stamp on the national freestyle arena.
"My experience as a former Olympic coach and World Team coach and coach Bono's experience as a three-time World Team member are aiding these wrestlers," Jackson said. "With the help of the Cyclone Wrestling Club, we are continually working to have a national training site in Ames."
Senior Cyclone 165-pounder Jon Reader is the 2010 University World Team Trials champion at 74 kg (163 pounds). The two-time All-American will be competing at the University World Championships Oct. 24-30 in Torino, Italy. Reader has had success at the freestyle level before. He was the 2009 Pan-Am Games silver medalist, and spent part of last summer honing his skills in Poland.
Incoming freshman Ryak Finch won the 2010 FILA Junior World Team Trials at 55 kg (121.5 pounds) without losing a single period in four matches. The future Cyclone was a three-time Arizona state champion and concluded his high school career with a record of 208-2. Finch will be representing the country at the FILA Junior World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, July 20-25.
Former Iowa State three-time All-American Travis Paulson (74 kg) will be making his first appearance on the U.S. World Team. Paulson dropped only one period through five matches en route to winning the 2010 World Team Trials. Paulson, who hails from Council Bluffs, defeated an Olympian and the 2010 U.S. Open champion in his bracket. The senior-level competitor will be representing the U.S. at the World Championships Sept. 6-12 in Moscow, Russia.
While all three Cyclones have seen success, Jackson believes there is still room for improvement.
"I think they all can get better going into the World Championships, when you are talking about wrestling the Russians, Iranians or other countries that have wrestled freestyle their whole lives," Jackson said. "Normally it takes around three years to make that transition from folkstyle to freestyle wrestling, and these guys have to do it in a short period of time to really give them a chance to be gold medalists."
With the great success that current and former Cyclones are having in different world-level competitions, Jackson is confident that more top-level talent will continue to make its way to the Cyclone wrestling room.
"One of the goals for the Cyclone wrestling program, without a doubt, is creating a strong freestyle basis to show kids that we have the pieces in place that would allow them to become World and Olympic champions," Jackson said. "I think the best wrestlers in the country not only want to be NCAA champions, but also World and Olympic champions. If you have all of the necessary pieces in place, it makes your university more attractive for student-athletes coming out of high school."