Cyclones Host Big 12 Championship Saturday
AMES, Iowa -- Iowa State’s Jon Reader will lead the Cyclones into the Big 12 Wrestling Championship Saturday in Hilton Coliseum. Reader is 32-0 this season and ranked No. 1 nationally at 174 pounds. The climactic moment of the season has arrived and Reader, a two-time All-American, knows it.
“When it’s time to release the lion, it’s time to release the lion,” Reader said.
The Big 12 meet serves as a qualifier for the NCAA Wrestling Championship, March 17-19 in Philadelphia, Pa. Doors open at 9 a.m. CST, with the first round beginning at 10 a.m. Doors will open at 6 p.m. for the finals with action starting at 7 p.m. All five league squads will be in action for the 15th annual event. All-session tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for youth. Morning session tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for youth. Evening session tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for youth.
The entire Championship will be streamed LIVE, including complete coverage of both mats during the preliminaries. Access to the streams will be available via the media portal at Big12Sports.com.
No. 3 Oklahoma State leads the Big 12 Conference in the national rankings, followed by Oklahoma (9), Nebraska (14), Iowa State (15) and Missouri (17). The Cowboys are the defending champion heading into the event, having won a league-leading nine team titles to date. Host Iowa State has won three titles (2007-09) and the Sooners have won twice (1999, 2002). Missouri is bidding for its first Big 12 crowns. Nebraska tied Iowa State for the league title in 2009.
Iowa State head coach Kevin Jackson knows the challenge his team faces.
“When talking specifically about my team, you are throwing out redshirt freshmen and a couple walk-ons, so it’s difficult to compete in a conference like the Big 12,” Jackson said. “We’re talking about Oklahoma State being ranked, Oklahoma is ranked, and Missouri won Midlands. I think that the top teams were (at Midlands) with the exception of Cornell and Penn State, but Missouri walked away with the crown. Missouri did lose a couple dual meets in the conference so it shows the strength of the Big 12 Conference. I think we will do well as a league at the NCAA Championships and affirm the strength of the Big 12.”
Jackson says Reader is the epitome of a coachable athlete.
“More than anyone else on this team and before anyone else on this team, Jon Reader bought into what we were preaching and teaching in the wrestling room,” Jackson said. “I know he wants to go out a winner in Hilton Coliseum. It won’t come easy, a Big 12 title never does.”
The Big 12 has 31 wrestlers currently ranked nationally through all nine weight classes, including 15 in the top 10 and five in the top five. The conference also has the three top-ranked grapplers overall in OSU's Jordan Oliver (133), NU's Jordan Burroughs (165) and Reader (174).
James H. Hilton Coliseum opened its doors on Dec. 2, 1971. Over its 35-year history, the building has been home to the Cyclone basketball, gymnastics, volleyball and wrestling teams and hosted the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championship in 1974, 1979, 1982, 1988 and 1993. The Cyclones hosted the 1999, 2004 and 2006 Big 12 Wrestling Championships and is one of three schools to entertain the league meet at least three times since the conference held the first Big 12 Conference meet in 1997.
Overall, Iowa State has hosted a Big Six, Big Seven, Big Eight or Big 12 conference tournament 22 times, dating back to the first Big Six league tournament in 1933, more than any other school in the meet today.