Big 12 Conference - One True Champion
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AMES, Iowa - Iowa State wrestler Boaz Beard is coming off what may have been his most impressive win of the year Sunday, as he upset Oklahoma State's Chris Chionuma, the No. 10 ranked wrestler in the country at 184 pounds. Beard is hoping that his dominant performance in the 8-2 victory over Chionuma is just the tip of the iceberg.

"It boosts my confidence a little bit," Beard said. "Beating good competition is always a positive influence on your confidence and this is a good time of the year to be beating ranked opponents, as we prepare for Big 12 duals and the national meet. That was an important win for Big 12 seeding."

With the victory on Sunday, Beard moved to 8-4 on the year, including a 3-0 mark in Big 12 competition, making it clear that he will be a factor to compete for a Big 12 championship. However, when Beard, a redshirt junior, is asked about his goals for March, he doesn't stop with a Big 12 championship.

"I want to be the Big 12 champion and I want to be a national champion," Beard said. "That's all I want to say. I want to be a national champion. I'm not going to set my sights any lower. I will need to string together five of the best matches I've ever wrestled."

While Beard is currently ranked 15th nationally at 184 pounds and would probably be considered a dark horse by most pundits. Iowa State head coach Kevin Jackson said that Beard possesses everything necessary to make his dreams a reality.

"He has the skills, the speed and the technique to be successful," Jackson said. "If he wrestles to his true potential, the sky is the limit for him. I don't think anybody in the country wants to wrestle Boaz Beard in March. We have found that Boaz needs to be challenged to be at his very best and I think my staff has figured out ways to challenge him."

While Beard works toward his goals for the future, he is also just happy to be back in the sport of wrestling, a sport he almost gave up for good just a few years ago. Beard left wrestling electing to play baseball at Emporia State for the 2010-11 school year. He chose to return to Iowa State, and wrestling, the following year. While Beard was glad to be back, he soon found that the sport of wrestling had a rude welcome back party in store for him.

"I just got beat up a little bit last year and I was hurt quite a bit," Beard said. "It took a mental and physical toll on me to get back into the groove of wrestling. Baseball just wasn't the same type of training and the same type of wear and tear on your body as wrestling. I jumped right back into it and I wasn't ready for it at the time."

Now that Beard has re-acclimated himself to wrestling, he can look to have break-out second half of the season. Following his upset of Chionuma, Beard will be faced with another elite opponent on Friday in UNI's Ryan Loder, who is currently ranked No. 6 nationally.

"(Loder) is one of the top ten wrestlers in country," Beard said. "He's really good. He's a big, strong guy and he scrambles hard so I'll need to wrestle my match and not let him dictate the kind of match it's going to be."

Beard and the rest of the Cyclones will be in action on Friday at 7 p.m. to take on UNI. Friday will also mark the Beauty and the Beast event, in which the Iowa State wrestling team and gymnastics team will be competing simultaneously in Hilton Coliseum.

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