Koree Willer: Chasing Records

Willer, Koree

Iowa State soccer’s Koree Willer’s breakout freshman and sophomore years means a lot of changes for the Iowa State record book.

Here’s where Willer stands right now:

Single season records
Tied 8th- in points in a season (21) in 2014
Tied 4th-Goals in a season (10) in 2014
Tied twice for 4th-Game winning goals in a season (3) in 2013 & 14
Tied 9th- Assists in a season (6) in 2013

Career records
Tied 10th- Career points (35)
Tied 9th- Career goals (14)
Tied 5th- Career game winning goals (6)

The most impressive stat? Willer is only a sophomore and will have two more seasons to move up in the rankings.

Not only has she written her way into the Iowa State record book, she has proven to be one of the top scoring threats in the Big 12. The sophomore currently ranks third in the Big 12 in goals (10), points (21), points per game (1.24) and goals per game (.59). Making her marks even more impressive is the fact that the two people ahead of Willer in goals scored also rank first and second in the Big 12 in shots taken. Willer? Not even in the top 10. Willer has only attempted 35 shots to score her 10 goals. Which means that when Willer takes a shot, there’s a very good chance that it will go in.

Before the season, head coach Tony Minatta mentioned that they would rely on Willer to be a force on the offensive end and that’s a role she’s embraced.

“I definitely felt like I wanted to be someone on the team that could be relied on and I think the goals and all of that came with it,” Willer said. “I came in and wanted to do whatever I could for the team and scoring goals is obviously a forward’s job, so I definitely was looking to do that.”

Last season Willer played a pivotal role on a team that earned a no. 4 seed in the 2013 Big 12 tournament. She led the team with six assists and was third with four goals. After an offseason of workouts and embracing the switch from supporting cast to lead role, Willer was ready to break down Big 12 defenders and lead the Big 12.

“One of the things I have been trying to focus on lately is speed,” Willer said. “You don’t always need the craziest moves in the world and I think I’ve learned that more. You go at them with speed. You do a simple move. It’s a simple thing, left or right, you can go the other way. Just trusting in yourself, I would say for the most part is a huge, huge thing 1-vs.-1.”

After a few games without a goal, Willer got back to her scoring ways this weekend finding the back of the net against both No. 15 Kansas and No. 19 Texas Tech. For someone as accomplished as she is, Willer still see’s flaws in her game that she would like to improve on in order become an even bigger threat.

Not only has Willer been impressive on the field, she’s also excelled in the classroom. She’s a mechanical engineering major who was named to the spring and fall 2013 Iowa State Dean’s List.

“I put a lot of time into school and I want to do as well as I can in that and in soccer too,” Willer said. “I put a lot of importance on education. I think it’s not as intimidating as people think. You’re always going and going, so you always have this level that you’re at. You just do it and you kind of get into rhythm and just get used to it.”

With that strategy she has been at the top of her class both on and off the field. It wouldn’t come as a surprise if she were to succeed in other aspects of life as well. Willer puts in hard work to get where she is and with as much as she’s accomplished so far, there’s more to come.

Iowa State will look towards Willer to put the Cyclones on the board when they take on TCU for Senior Night Friday at 7 p.m. CST at the Cyclone Sports Complex.


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Hoop Bits (10-23-14)

Cooke To Undergo Surgery

Iowa State sophomore Hallice Cooke will head to New York City for a surgery that will repair cartilage tears in both hips. Cooke, who is sitting out the 2014-15 season after transferring to ISU from Oregon State, will have surgery on one hip Monday and the other four weeks later.

For Cooke, the injuries have been ongoing and he has decided to take care of them now during his redshirt year according to Iowa State Athletic Trainer Vic Miller.

The recovery period for the surgery is expected to be six to eight months.

Point Guards Proven In Big 12
When we entered the 2013-14 season, the Big 12 had quite a few teams with a question mark at a very important position. Point guard. The Cyclones had DeAndre Kane at point guard, but it can be argued that ISU played its best ball when Morris was inserted into the starting lineup alongside Kane.

This season, Iowa State, Kansas State, Oklahoma and Texas will not have questions there.

The four teams, all of which are picked second through fifth in the preseason poll, seem to be set at floor general for the future, which bodes well for Big 12 basketball.

Iowa State’s Monté Morris actually started the fewest games (17) of any of the sophomore point guards and we all know the impact he had as a rookie.

It will be interesting to see these players grow and their impact on the league in year two. Here is a quick breakdown of the sophomore studs.

Monté Morris (Iowa State, 6-2, 170, Flint, Mich.)
28.1 mpg, 6.8 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 3.7 apg, 0.7 tpg, 4.79 a/to ratio, 1.3 spg, 43.0 FG%, 40.6 3FG%, 84.7 FT%

Morris may have scored the fewest points of these players, but don’t let that fool you. Morris played a major role in the Cyclones’ offense, which led the Big 12 and ranked fifth nationally in scoring. Perhaps more than any of the other guys on this list, Morris wasn’t needed to score as much because of what was around him. An extremely efficient player, he was truly a floor general for the Cyclones, breaking the NCAA assist-to-turnover ratio at 4.79. I think it is safe to expect the Flint, Mich. native to score a bit more this season, which we got a taste of in the NCAA Tournament when he averaged 13.3 points. He also hit 9-of-11 threes in the Big 12 Tournament and NCAA Tournament.

Marcus Foster (Kansas State, 6-2, 200, Wichita Falls, Texas)
29.4 mpg, 15.5 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 2.5 apg, 2.2 tpg, 1.15 a/to ratio, 0.6 spg, 42.3 FG%, 39.5 3FG%, 73.4 FT%

Foster garnered the most acclaim as a freshman, earning All-Big 12 Second-Team honors. He averaged the most points of the bunch and was a preseason All-Big 12 pick this season.

Jordan Woodard (Oklahoma, 6-0, 182, Arcadia, Okla.)
28.0 mpg, 10.3 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 4.6 apg, 2.1 tpg, 2.17 a/to ratio, 1.0 spg, 35.7 FG%, 37.0 3FG%, 77.7 FT%

Woodard’s 4.6 assists per game led this group and he was second to only Morris with his 2.17 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Isaiah Taylor (Texas, 6-1, 170, Hayward, Calif.)
30.1 mpg, 12.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 4.0 apg, 2.4 tpg, 1.69 a/to ratio, 1.1 spg, 39.1 FG%, 26.3 3FG%, 74.8 FT%

Behind a nifty teardrop floater, Taylor scores many of his points around the basket. He joined Foster on the All-Rookie team last season.

Naz On Georges
When I was interviewing Naz Long for a story on himself, I asked him to tell me about Georges Niang the person. Here was his response about his roommate, teammate and close friend:

“He is the goofiest and most dedicated individual that you could ever meet. He has such a fun side to him and he’s a great person. He can make you laugh all day, but at the end of the day he’s about his business. He is always watching tape at home and we are always talking about practice and the season. We talk about positives, we talk about negatives and it all comes down to the fact that he is a student of the game. He is a grinder and someone that is dedicated to his craft.”

@SethOnHoops Visits The Cyclones
Former Virginia Tech head coach and ESPN college basketball analyst Seth Greenberg visited practice on Tuesday, Oct. 14. His message was simple, you can be successful if you defend as a team. Greenberg pointed out that there is no doubt the Cyclones can score, but great teams defend as a team as well.

Joining Instagram
In case you missed it, Iowa State men’s basketball is on Instagram now (IowaStateMBB). We’ll try to bring you pictures throughout the season, as well as some behind the scenes stuff.

Associated Press Top-25
The Associated Press Preseason Top-25 will be announced on Oct. 31. The last time the Cyclones were ranked in the preseason top-25 was 2005-06 (23). In 1996-97, the Tim Floyd-led Cyclones were ranked ninth in the preseason.

Where do you think the Cyclones will be ranked?

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Mia McAleer: Overcoming Adversity

McAleer, Mia

Adversity in athletics.

Every athlete deals with it. Some more than others. In unique situations, certain athletes are dealt with the adversity of a serious injury that can alter their career in sports. Often injuries can end a career because the difficulties involved in overcoming them. Iowa State redshirt sophomore defender Mia McAleer knows first-hand what it takes to overcome a serious injury and come back better than ever.

McAleer was first struck with adversity before ever coming to Iowa State. Before becoming a Cyclone she would have her first major obstacle to overcome.

“We were at Disney for national league and it was during the first half of the game,” McAleer said. “I was marking this girl who was really good and really fast, so I was trying to do the best that I could. It was off of a punt, the ball got over both of our heads. She got to it first and she was kind of dancing on it. She cut and I went to cut with her and it just went out and I went down.”

The damage was done. McAleer had laterally dislocated her kneecap and tore a ligament from her femur. A year prior to the serious injury, McAleer had subluxed her kneecap, which is when the bone goes out and immediately back in. This time, the damage was much worse.

The injury required surgery, but McAleer wasn’t about to let it end her soccer career. She went through rehab and training to get to be back to where she was. McAleer worked her way back onto the field during her senior season only to run into another hurdle. Although she had her injury surgically repaired, she was still in a lot of pain and could not perform at her best.

McAleer met with doctors and Iowa State soccer’s head athletic trainer Amanda Brown before her freshman season to discover what was causing the pain. It was found that as a result of the bio-mechanics of her knee and a cartilage defect caused by the first injury, McAleer would need to have another surgery.

“Essentially what our doctors determined was that her best hope to get back into playing would be to have a patellar realignment surgery,” Brown said.

The goal of the surgery was to move the kneecap inward towards the center of the body so that it would change the angle of the pull of the tendon. By doing this there would be a lot less stress under the kneecap.

McAleer knew that she had the talent to compete for playing time her initial season, but because of the surgery she would have to redshirt her freshman year and commit her time towards rehabbing her knee and getting herself ready for next season.

Sitting out an entire season from playing the sport you love can be hard. Especially when you know that you have the talent to compete, but are being held back by an injury. Luckily for McAleer, she had an entire team and staff supporting her.

“You definitely need support because it’s not something that you can go through by yourself.” McAleer said. “When I had my surgery I got hurt a month before Haley Albert tore her ACL for the fourth time. We kind had the same rehab treatment so honestly having her with me for that first year was pretty amazing. We were always talking about it. It was pretty rough, but it was nice having someone there for me.”

McAleer followed the direction of her doctors and athletic trainer to work hard to be able to see the field again. After a redshirt season full of rehab and work on getting her knee back to playing condition her time had finally come. McAleer recorded 196 minutes her redshirt freshman season, playing a key reserve role for a team that earned a No. 4 seed at the 2013 Big 12 tournament.

Now that she had a taste of action, she wanted more. McAleer sat out spring practices before her redshirt sophomore season for precautionary reasons to not further hurt her knee, but knew that this would be her year to prove her worth and that’s exactly what she’s done. So far this season she has recorded 705 minutes and started the last four games for the Cyclones.

“It’s pretty crazy,” McAleer said. “If you would have told me this time last year that I would be a starter on the team I probably would have laughed a little bit. It’s pretty incredible. I worked really hard to get where I am. I attribute that to my teammates, coaches and athletic trainer. They are all so supportive and I could not have done it without every single one of them.”

She did what many could not. She had suffered a serious knee injury, went through two surgeries and had the patience to sit out an entire season. Many would have quit, but not McAleer.

“I am beyond proud,” Brown said. “I can’t even imagine what she has gone through. I know how much pain she was in her freshman and sophomore years and she pulled through. She stuck with it. I’m just glad that she’s able to play. Seeing her on the field playing well is great to see.”

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Kickin’ It ISU Style

Cole Netten

It really is no secret that Cole Netten inspired me to pen this blog. In case you haven’t noticed yet, Iowa State’s placekicking fortunes have made a dramatic turn with the leg of Netten.

The sophomore is kicking his way into the Iowa State record books and Cyclone fans can rejoice that the All-America candidate has two more years of eligibility remaining.

So without further ado, here is my stab at chronicling the history of Iowa State kickers and where Netten rates among them.


Best season percentage of FGs (minimum 10 FGA)

  1. Jeff Shudak, 1987             20-25 (80.0 pct.)
  2. Bret Culbertson, 2004    8-10 (80.0 pct.)
  3. Alex Giffords, 1982          15-20 (75.0 pct.)
  4. Bret Culbertson, 2005    12-16 (75.0 pct.)
  5. Adam Benike, 2002         17-23 (73.9 pct.)
  6. Ty Stewart, 1993               11-15 (73.3 pct.)
  7. Bret Culbertson, 2006    8-11 (72.7 pct.)
  8. Marc Bachrodt, 1983       8-11 (72.7 pct.)
  9. Cole Netten, 2013            13-18 (72.2 pct.)
  10. Jeff Shudak, 1988             12-17 (70.6 pct.)
  11. Ty Stewart, 1991               12-17 (70.6 pct.)

When a player starts producing sound statistical averages, it forces our athletics communications staff to do a little digging for research. No complaints here, because this is where he get to learn about the past. And despite a common notion that the Cyclones have been snake-bit with their kickers, this is a chance to prove to everyone that ISU has been blessed with outstanding performers at that position in its history.

As Iowa State play-by-play man John Walters says often, “Cole Netten has it stuck on automatic.” In fact, he is perfect, drilling all eight field goal attempts to lay claim as one of just six kickers in FBS to not miss a field goal this season with seven or more attempts.

If Netten keeps this pace up, he will have a great chance to break the single-season school record (minimum 10 attempts). Notice Bret “Shaggy” Culbertson’s name appears three times on the single-season percentage list. Also, Jeff Shudak was a freshman in 1987 when he drilled 20-of-25 field goals. Not a bad debut for arguably the best kicker in school history.

Best career percentage of FGs (minimum 25 FGA)

  1. Cole Netten, 2013-                          21-26 (80.8 pct.)
  2. Adam Benike, 2002-03                   23-31 (74.2 pct.)
  3. Jeff Shudak, 1987-90                      58-79 (73.4 pct.)
  4. Bret Culbertson, 2004-07              38-55 (69.1 pct.)
  5. Rick Frank, 1985-86                          22-33 (66.7 pct.)
  6. Ty Stewart, 1991-94                        44-68 (64.7 pct.)
  7. Alex Giffords, 1979-82                   43-68 (63.2 pct.)
  8. Jamie Kohl, 1995-98                        37-59 (62.7 pct.)
  9. Reggie Shoemake, 1970-71          21-34 (61.8 pct.)
  10. Grant Mahoney, 2008-11              39-66 (59.1 pct.)

Netten is already the most accurate field goal kicker in school history (25 or more attempts). He’s currently at 80.8 percent, nipping Adam Benike in second-place at 74.2 percent. Benike is the only Cyclone placekicker to make an All-Big 12 First-Team, accomplishing the feat in 2002.

Shudak has the record for most first-team all-conference selections, earning All-Big Eight First-Team in 1987, 1988 and 1990.

Jeff Shudak was a three-time First-Team All-Big Eight pick.

Jeff Shudak was a three-time First-Team All-Big Eight pick.


Consecutive Field Goals Made

11- Jeff Shudak, 1988-89
11- Cole Netten, 2013-14
8- Ty Stewart, 1993
8- Marc Bachrodt, 1983
7- Grant Mahoney, 2010
7- Jamie Kohl, 1996-97

When Netten made his first eight field goal attempts to begin 2014, our office started to wonder what the Iowa State record is for consecutive field goals made. Netten, who drilled his final three attempts of the 2013, had mounted a nice little streak of 11 consecutive makes.

We didn’t have records for this, so we looked it up. After going through every box score the above list is what we came up with.

Once again, not shocking to see Shudak’s name at the top of this list with Netten. Ty Stewart, who was a First-Team All-Big Eight kicker in 1993 and 1994, had an outstanding 1993 season and is best remembered for drilling four field goals in ISU’s 19-10 upset win over No. 7 Nebraska in 1992.

In The Clutch

Let’s call it like it is. A kicker is best remembered for what they do in the clutch, whether that is a fair assessment or not.

The ability to make kicks when the game is on the line is what most fans will recollect about their kicker. Netten further solidified his legacy by drilling a 42-yard field goal with 0:02 seconds left to defeat in-state rival Iowa, 20-17 in Iowa City.

It was a big time kick and just the first game-winning, last-minute field goal by a Cyclone since Shaggy made his mark against the Hawkeyes in 2007 when he tied the school record by connecting on five field goals, including the game-clincher with 0:01 seconds left.

Who has the most last-minute game-winning/tie-saving field goals in school history? It’s Shudak with three and Rick Frank is second with two.

Last-minute FGs to win games/save ties

2014- Cole Netten vs. Iowa, 20-17 (42 yards, 0:02)
2007- Bret Culbertson vs. Iowa, 15-13 (28 yards, 0:01)
1991- Ty Stewart vs. Rice, 28-27 (40 yards, 0:32)
1990- Jeff Shudak vs. Kansas, 34-34 (53 yards, 0:18)
1990- Jeff Shudak vs. Missouri, 27-25 (36 yards, 0:14)
1987- Jeff Shudak vs. Kansas State, 16-14 (39 yards, 0:46)
1986- Rick Frank vs. Kansas, 13-10 (33 yards, 0:05)
1985- Rick Frank vs. Vanderbilt, 20-17 (34 yards, 0:03)
1983- Marc Bachrodt vs. Kansas, 38-35 (47 yards, 0:03)

Rick Frank made two last-minute game-winning FGs in his Cyclone career.

Rick Frank made two last-minute game-winning FGs in his Cyclone career.

The Last-Second Field Goal That Didn’t Make The List

The above list is missing a last-second field goal by Rick Frank against Missouri in 1986. Frank booted a 25-yard field goal with 0:02 seconds left to give the Cyclones a 37-14 victory….yes, a 37-14 victory.

So the question must be asked. Why would Frank attempt a field goal in the closing seconds with a 20-point lead?

Former athletics communications director and current director of programmer for Cyclones.tv Tom Kroeschell explains.

“Rick wasn’t expecting to be called,” Kroeschell said. “He ran out there and kicked it. He was definitely surprised.”

What precipitated former Cyclone head coach Jim Criner’s decision was what occurred during the week leading up to the game.

“Missouri head coach Woody Widenhofer had made some type of an allusion that he was closing his practices because he was worried that ISU was going to spy on them. The ISU coaching staff took that as an insult,” Kroeschell said.

“After Rick’s kick and the game was over, some of the Missouri coaches came over toward the ISU coaches and had a few words for them. Basically it was a week-long standoff between the two coaching staffs.”

Alex Giffords was an All-Big Eight kicker for the Cyclones from 1979-82.

Alex Giffords was an All-Big Eight kicker for the Cyclones from 1979-82.

Kickers Being Kickers

Kickers have always had the reputation of being a little flaky. I guess it’s in their DNA. If you haven’t had the opportunity to meet Netten, however, you would soon find out how well-respected he is among his teammates in the locker room.

Another outstanding quality of Netten is that he doesn’t take himself too seriously and has a great sense of humor. This tweet confirms that.

I was told a wonderful story recently by former ISU sports information director Kirk Hendrix on Alex Giffords, ISU’s all-conference kicker from 1979-82. Giffords was one of ISU’s first international student-athletes, growing up in Mexico before moving to Tucson, Ariz., for his senior season in high school.

A first-team all-Big Eight kicker in 1980, Giffords was also one of ISU’s first soccer-style kickers. When his career was over, a Cyclone fan asked Giffords if he could help coach his son’s football team.

Giffords simply replied, “I don’t know anything about football. I just kick football.”

Kickers being kickers.

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REIGNing From Three

“Good! Another Wellmark 3-pointer!”

For fans of the Iowa State women’s basketball program, the trademark call of play-by-play man Rich Fellingham has become synonymous with ISU’s style of play under head coach Bill Fennelly. The Cyclones are not afraid to fire away from beyond the arc.

The 3-pointer is one of the most emotionally-charged plays in basketball. It can swing momentum, build confidence and bring fans to their feet. While the announcement of a made 3-pointer echos through the rafters of Hilton Coliseum, fans wave their 3-point cards as the spirit squad tosses souvenirs into the stands.

During thREIGNing from threee Fennelly Era (1995-present), the 3-pointer has not been a one or two-year wonder, it has been central to Iowa State’s rise and stay in the women’s basketball ranks. Unsurprisingly, Iowa State has been the premier program in the country when shooting, and making, the ball from deep.

That’s right, Iowa State ranks first among ALL NCAA Division I schools in 3-pointers per game (7.82), 3-pointers made (4,745) and attempted (13,296) in the last 19 seasons.

It’s not just attempting 3-pointers that sets ISU apart from the rest, it’s the makes. Iowa State ranks fifth in all of Division I in 3-point percentage (35.69) since 1995-96. Couple that with ranking first in 3’s per game, made and attempted, and you can’t find a better university to root for or play for if you’re a fan of shots from long range.

Another compelling note: Iowa State has knocked down 4,745 trey’s to UConn’s 4,220, who sits in second for 3-pointers made since 1995-96. Even more impressive to the Cyclones netting 525 more 3-pointers to second-place UConn is the fact that they did it in 97 fewer games.

The Cyclones have netted an average of 7.82 3’s per game since Fennelly arrived, which is 0.99 3’s per game more than Villanova (6.83), which ranks second in all of Division I during that time.

Iowa State has not wavered in its 3-point prowess over the years, netting over 200 3’s in a season 16 times where over 170 schools in DI have never had aREIGNing from three season with over 200 3-point makes.

In addition to all the impressive notes above, we can’t forget about THE STREAK. Iowa State also owns the NCAA’s longest streak for 3-pointers made. The Cyclones have netted one from deep in 612-straight games and counting.

Under Fennelly, the 3-point shot has become iconic. Some of the most memorable moments in school history revolve around a 3-point shot. Take Megan Taylor’s 3-point buzzer beater to upset No. 9 Texas in 1997, ISU’s 3-point barrage vs. UConn or Alison Lacey’s game-saving three against Michigan State to send ISU to its second Elite Eight.

Iowa State history is filled with incredible long-range shooters like Heather Ezell, Taylor, Kelsey Bolte and Stacy Frese. The current Iowa State roster also shows no sign of stopping the trend, with shooters like Brynn Williamson, who already ranks 10th in Iowa State history in career 3-pointers (182), Kidd Blaskowsky, Jadda Buckley and freshmen Nakiah Bell and Emily Durr.

Iowa State is branded in large part by what takes place beyond the arc, and that’s OK.

So, it seems, in the world of NCAA women’s basketball, Iowa State truly is REIGNing from three.

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An Informal Wrestling Preview

2014-15 Preview Pic

Official practices are underway, preseason rankings are coming out and the buzz surrounding the upcoming collegiate wrestling season continues to rise. With the Cyclones set to open the season Nov. 1, here’s a look at what’s ahead for the Cardinal and Gold.

The Coaches
This season marks Iowa State wrestling head coach Kevin Jackson’s sixth at the helm and the fifth for assistant coach Travis Paulson. Jackson has coached Cyclone wrestlers to three NCAA individual championships, 10 All-America accolades and seven Big 12 individual titles.

The Cyclones added a pair of new faces to the coaching staff over the offseason in Trent Paulson and Angel Escobedo. Each coach on staff competed for the United States World Team, making Iowa State one of, if not only program with four former World Team members. You can read more about the Paulson and Escobedo hirings here.

Who’s Back
Iowa State returns the bulk of its starting lineup from a year ago, including three All-Americans, six NCAA qualifiers and two Big 12 Champions.

Michael Moreno, Kyven Gadson, Tanner Weatherman and Lelund Weatherspoon all return to the Cyclone lineup after 25+ win seasons in 2014.

Michael Moreno, Kyven Gadson, Tanner Weatherman and Lelund Weatherspoon all return to the Cyclone lineup after 25+ win seasons in 2014.

The Cyclones bring back eight of their 10 starters from a year ago, leaving open weights at 125 and 157. Of those eight starters, Michael Moreno (31), Kyven Gadson (30), Tanner Weatherman (25) and Lelund Weatherspoon (25) each won at least 25 matches last season. All six of the Cyclones’ 2014 NCAA qualifiers return to the lineup in M. Moreno, Gadson, Weatherman, Weatherspoon, Earl Hall and Gabe Moreno.

The only returning starters not listed above are Luke Goettl, a two-time NCAA qualifier, and Quean Smith, who picked up a pair of wins over ranked opponents last season.

In terms of production, the Cyclones return their top six point scorers in M. Moreno, Gadson, Weatherman, Weatherspoon, Goettl and Hall. Five returning wrestlers notched six or more pins in 2013-14, with Gadson and M.  Moreno leading the way with 13 bonus-point victories (major decisions, tech-falls and pins).

Kyven Gadson and Michael Moreno are two of nine returning wrestlers nationally to post back-to-back, 30+ win seasons.

Kyven Gadson and Michael Moreno are two of nine returning wrestlers nationally to post back-to-back, 30+ win seasons.

Gadson and M. Moreno boast two of the NCAA’s best résumés. The Cyclone seniors are two of just nine wrestlers in the nation to win at least 30 matches and earn a spot on the NCAA All-America podium in both of the past two seasons. The duo makes Iowa State one of just five programs nationally to return multiple wrestlers with back-to-back All-America seasons.

Lineup Changes
Kyle Larson looks to be the guy at 125, coming off of a 2014 campaign that saw him post three top-5 finishes. Larson posted an overall record of 18-8 last season and was 3-2 in dual competition, notching nine bonus-point victories. The West Des Moines native also won two tournaments during his redshirt year.

John Meeks is coming off a redshirt of his own and will take over at 141, bumping G. Moreno to 149 and Goettl up to 157. Meeks went 11-1 last year while wrestling unattached, finishing third at the Harold Nichols Cyclone Open and taking home the title at the Kaye Young Open. Meeks scored in double figures in over half of his matches not decided by fall and scored bonus points in five matches, scoring two pins, two major decisions and a tech-fall.

A spot is also up for grabs at 157, where the starter will likely be decided by performance in the opening tournaments of the season. The starting spot may be between Goettl and redshirt-freshmen Blayne Briceno and Daniel Woiwor. Briceno was a three-time Fargo All-American and 2013 Greco national champ at 145. Woiwor, a two-time Minnesota high school state champion, notched two top-five finishes last season while wrestling unattached.

Members of the incoming freshman class have already taken home some big hardware in their prep careers. The class of Marcus Harrington, Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer, Nathan Boston, Logan Breitenbach, Dante Rodriguez and Ryan Schuman have collectively captured six national titles, 15 state titles and earned 10 All-America honors.

The trio of Harrington, Rodriguez-Spencer and Breitenbach saw a lot of success at this summer’s USA Junior National Championships in Fargo, North Dakota. You can read about that here and here.

The freshman crew will likely all use a redshirt except for Boston, who could work his way into the mix at 125.

Also new to the lineup this year is Dusty Jentz, who transferred to Iowa State this year from Luther College. Jentz was a four-time place-winner at the Wisconsin High School State Championships and was the state champion his senior year at 182 pounds. Jentz has wrestled at 174 and at 165 over the past two seasons.

Following the Cyclones
Be sure to keep up with the Iowa State wrestling team on Twitter and Facebook, and follow the season on Cyclones.com. Also, be sure to check out our schedule to see when and where we compete.

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Naz Long

There is being clutch.

And then there is being CLUTCH.

Dependable in crucial situations according to Dictionary.com.

Naz Long according to Cyclone Nation.

It wasn’t the first time as a basketball player that Long had hit big shots. While playing in Peach Jam at the 17U level, Long hit a game-winner against a Marcus Paige led All-Iowa Attack team.

He also sent a game against Georges Niang’s BABC squad to a second overtime with a floater over his future college roommate. Long is quick to point out that Niang’s squad won in the second overtime, so he owns the bragging rights.

For Long, who came to Iowa State as a combo guard but played primarily at the point his first season in Ames, it’s about making plays and doing whatever he is asked to do.

“Really, I feel like I can play either spot. I’m comfortable with that,” Long said. “I’m a junior, I know the offense and the defense and anything Coach Hoiberg wants me to do I feel like I can do that.”

That’s Naz Long in a nutshell.

A positive teammate, and now, a leader.

“I like to consider myself a leader because I am a third-year guy. Coming into my junior year, I can say that I’ve been through the ups-and-downs with this team. From the Ohio State loss to the Big 12 Tournament title, I’ve seen the lowest of lows and the highest of highs in basketball. I definitely think I can help the freshmen and first-year guys.”

Long is one of 10 children. He learned early how to adapt, how to get along. It has helped him in the team setting.

“I definitely think having a family like that is like being on a team,” Long said. “Being the middle child, I feel like I have a connection with all of my siblings. I can relate to everyone because I’m not too young or too old. On all the teams that I have been on I’ve been able to relate to a lot of people. It is a knack I have and coming from a big family probably helps with that.”

He lives on a number of simple beliefs, including the power of positivity.

How does one hit his last three 3-pointers, including the game-tying one with 50 seconds left in the third round of the NCAA Tournament after starting 1-for-5? By being positive, that’s how.

“Even when things aren’t going great on the court, you’ve got to find a way to be positive. I play with a lot of emotion, but I don’t want people to see me down.”

Long will surely be counted on even more this season. He knows he won’t sneak up on anyone.

He’s prepared himself diligently, hoisting more than 700 makes per day this summer. He’ll ride the values taught to him by his parents in Mississauga, Ontario.

He’ll lead. He’ll be positive. He’s ready.

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