When discussing the greatest wrestlers in Iowa State history, Tim Krieger’s name will undoubtedly rise to the top. The Mason City, Iowa native was one of the most dominant wrestlers in the nation from 1986-89, garnering two NCAA 150-pound titles, four All-America performances and four individual Big Eight championships. Krieger only lost three times in his competitive career, compiling a 116-3-2 record at 150 pounds.
Cyclone fans saw a glimpse of Krieger’s greatness as a freshman in 1986, when he decisioned and drew with the defending 150-pound NCAA champion Jim Heffernan of Iowa. Krieger was undefeated until he lost two matches in the NCAA Tournament, earning All-America honors as a rookie by placing fifth at 150 pounds. The Amateur Wrestling News named him NCAA Freshman of the Year after his outstanding initial collegiate campaign.
Krieger was undefeated as a sophomore in 1987, going 29-0 en route to his first NCAA championship at 150 pounds. Krieger was one of four Cyclones to win an individual national title that season, propelling ISU to its first NCAA team title since 1977 and ending Iowa’s nine-year run as NCAA champion. The 150-pounder continued to roll his junior season (1988), winning his third 150-pound Big Eight title and staying unbeaten until the NCAA tournament when trouble occurred. Krieger suffered a knee injury during the 1988 tournament, severely limiting his mobility on the mat. Despite the setback, Krieger fought all the way to the finals for the second straight season. Wrestling virtually on one leg, Krieger lost to North Carolina State’s Scott Turner in a 2-1 overtime battle, ending his 56-match win streak.
Krieger returned for his senior season with extra determination and fire after undergoing three knee operations in the offseason. Krieger’s hard work paid off, going out on top by winning his fourth Big Eight championship and second NCAA title, finishing the 1989 season undefeated (30-0) at 150 pounds. Krieger pinned three of his five opponents at the NCAA Tournament, winning the meet’s Outstanding Wrestler Award, the first Cyclone to win the award since Dan Gable in 1969.
Krieger is one of eight wrestlers in school history to earn All-America honors four times and one of three wrestlers in school history to win four conference titles. He was also the first wrestler in NCAA history to earn the No. 1 seed at the NCAA Championship four-straight seasons. His exploits earned him Iowa State Male Athlete of the Year and Big Eight Athlete of the Year in 1989. He is one of six Cyclones in school history to win conference athlete of the year kudos.