Adams Best Possible Ambassador for Wrestling
AMES, Iowa – Former Iowa State assistant wrestling coach Les Anderson remembers the first time he saw Boston University head coach and former Cyclone wrestling great Carl Adams grapple on the mat. Adams, the head coach of the BU Terriers will be in Hilton Coliseum Thursday as Iowa State’s home-opening foe at 7 p.m. As always, his reception by Iowa State fans will be warm. The crowd remembers Adams’ contributions to Cyclone wrestling as a competitor and as an assistant coach.
Carl Adams was a key cog in the most productive time period of the storied Iowa State wrestling program. In his four years at ISU (1969-72), Adams won two individual national championships, was a three-time All-American, a member of three NCAA Championship squads (1969, 1970, 1972) and one runner-up NCAA team (1971).
Former Iowa State assistant coach Les Anderson was on a recruiting trip when he spotted Adams whipping other high school age wrestlers.
“I had gone to see someone else, and I saw Carl,” Anderson said. “I don’t remember who the other guy was now. Carl was quick and aggressive, that is what attracted my attention. I literally followed him into the lockerroom to introduce myself.”
With good reason.
A native of Bay Shore, N.Y., Adams arrived at Iowa State after a stellar prep career at Brentwood High School, where he never lost a dual meet and was the New York State champion his senior year at 157 pounds. Legendary ISU wrestling coach Harold Nichols penciled in the freshman as his 152-pounder in 1969, where Adams compiled a 9-2-1 dual mark and finished fifth at the NCAA Championship. The Cyclones took home the team title that year for the first time since 1965.
“When I came to Iowa State, I met other guys who were really impressive like Jason Smith and my roommate Phil Parker,” Adams said. “It was easy to feel at home. Coach Nichols was supportive. He was not a man of many words but when he spoke, you listened. Iowa State was a good fit and the best possible situation for me.”
Adams won his only Big Eight Conference championship in 1970 (150 pounds), but was unable to place in the top eight at nationals as the Cyclones won back-to-back NCAA team titles. Adams regrouped and held a stranglehold over his weight class (158 pounds) in his final two seasons. In 1971, Adams was 9-2-1 in duals and won his first NCAA title by dominating Oregon State’s Mike Jones 18-5 in the championship match. Adams did not lose a dual match in his senior season (16-0-1) and capped off his second consecutive individual national title with a 7-4 decision against Stan Dziedzic from Slippery Rock. He was one of three Cyclone individual national titlists in 1972 (Ben Peterson, Chris Taylor), as the Cyclones were kings of the mat world for the third time in Adams’ four seasons with the Cyclones.
“Winning two NCAA titles was real special,” Adams said. “But the team championships were just as special to me. To have been at Iowa State when people like Jason Smith, Dan Gable and Chris Taylor were competing gives me a great sense of satisfaction.
The match in which he won his final NCAA title against Dziedzic is fresh in Anderson’s mind nearly 40 years later.
“I kept hearing about Dziedzic, Dziedzic, Dziedzic all season long,” Anderson said. “In the final Carl put two great takedown moves on Dziedzic and that was the end of it.”
After ending his ISU career with a 45-4-4 dual mark and three Midlands championships (1971, 1972, 1974), Adams continued to excel on the mat at the international level while assisting Nichols and the Cyclone staff from 1973-79. Adams won the AAU 163-pound national championship in 1973 and 1975 and placed fifth in the 1975 World Team Championship held in Minsk, Russia. He won a silver medal at the 1975 Pan American Games in Mexico City. Adams, who earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Iowa State, left ISU in 1979 to take his first head coaching job at the University of Rhode Island. After two seasons with the Rams, Adams took over head coaching duties at Boston University, where he is in his 28th year with the Terriers. Under his tutelage, the BU has won 10 conference titles and produced four All-Americans.
“Carl has been an inspiration to me,” Iowa State head coach Kevin Jackson said. “As a teammate, assistant coach and head coach Carl has been the best possible ambassador for Iowa State University and the sport of wrestling. His efforts with youth transcend the sport.”
Adams has authored many books on wrestling and was the inventor of the Wrestling Takedown Machine, Adam, a device used by thousands of high schools and colleges across the country. Adams was inducted into the Midlands Hall of Fame in 1992 and was a 2005 inductee to the Glen Brand Wrestling Hall of Fame at the International Wrestling Institute in Newton, Iowa. In 2005, he was inducted into the ISU Letterwinners Hall of Fame.
The Iowa State wrestling program will recognize Adams’ contributions to the sport before the Boston University-Iowa State dual Thursday in Hilton Coliseum. Cyclone wrestling fans don’t need to see the plaque he’ll receive. They know all this man has accomplished.
“When you watched Carl wrestle, he had talent, the kind of ability you can’t teach,” Anderson said. “He always had great poise on the mat and in how he carried himself.”
There is one other quality Adams possesses that is the biggest part of his legacy. Class.