Mayfield A Leader For Cyclone Wrestling
AMES, Iowa - When Iowa State head wrestling coach Kevin Jackson is asked about the turnaround his squad has made from the 2011-12 season until now, there are many factors he points to. He mentions the dedication of his staff and improved health among the student-athletes. One person Jackson made sure to single out as a key though, was fifth-year senior Max Mayfield.
"It hurt us not having Max on the team last year," Jackson said. "That concussion that put him out was tough. He was one of the original Iowa Staters that saw us when we were at the height of our competitiveness."
Mayfield, who only appeared in two matches last season due to injury, is the longest tenured current Cyclone, having arrived on campus in 2008 under former head coach Cael Sanderson. The Davenport, Iowa native spent his initial collegiate season redshirting as the Cyclones went on to a third-place finish in the NCAA Championships.
Mayfield was entering his redshirt freshman season when Jackson became his head coach. Jackson said Mayfield's attitude in that first year was crucial.
"Max trusted us from day one," Jackson said. "When I came in here, he was one of the athletes that really turned it over. He bought into our system right away."
It has been that attitude that has allowed Mayfield to play such an important role, both on and off the mat, in the Cyclones' resurgence.
"I was here with a lot of the names that all Cyclone wrestling fans remember like Jake Varner, David Zabriskie, Jon Reader and Nick Fanthorpe," Mayfield said. "Then I've been here in some of the tough times when we haven't been doing so well. I prided myself these last couple years on trying to be a leader that some of these guys can look to and show them the direction we need to go. I try to help them through some of the experiences that I've had."
Jackson also rattled off the list of names of those that have accomplished great things in the Iowa State wrestling program during Mayfield's time. However, he added that Cyclone fans should remember Mayfield's name as well, as one that was key in bringing back Iowa State wrestling.
"He has really seen the top-end of our program," Jackson said. "He's also seen the valley. He saw what we lost when we didn't have a recruiting class for, really, two years. Now we're on the other side of that and he has been a tremendous part of it. He's the ideal leader because he's on time and he does everything he's asked to do. He tries to enforce the rules and the commitment that the coaching staff expects."
Freshman Gabe Moreno, Mayfield's sparring partner in practice at 149 pounds, said that the senior's leadership and influence in the wrestling room is undeniable.
"He's a real leader," Moreno said. "Sometimes it's vocally, but more so in how hard he works in practice. He leads by example. He has been here through all the ups and downs of recent memory for Iowa State wrestling. He knows how things have been and how they are now and how they need to be for us continue on the right path."
Mayfield's impact on the program is one that cannot be measured simply in wins and losses. He has helped bring back an attitude and a swagger that did not always exist. There is no better example of this than what Mayfield said when asked about his goals and the goals of the team.
"If you're an Iowa State wrestler, your goal has to be a national championship and that's the end of the story right there," Mayfield said. "We all knew we had potential as a team, but at this point in the season, a lot of these guys have started to realize that potential. We have guys out there wrestling hard for seven minutes, and as a program, that's what we need."
Mayfield, who graduated in 2012 with a degree in computer engineering, is now working his way toward a master's degree in business administration. Although this is his final year of eligibility, Mayfield said he hopes to be around the program next season to continue to help his team.
"I've been a part of this program for the past five years," Mayfield said. "I want to see these guys do well so I'm sure I'll still be around to help them. Even if it's just giving them support, I'll do whatever I can for the team."
Mayfield is currently coming off a 7-2 victory over Eastern Michigan's Michael Shaw, moving his record to 10-10 on the season as he seeks an NCAA tournament bid.