AMES — Former Waterloo East star Kyven Gadson’s eyes lit up at the mere mention of the immediate future.
The ultra-talented, but injury-plagued Iowa State 197-pounder’s finally cleared to go live — in the wrestling room, if not yet in competition.
“It’s uncharted right now,” Gadson said during Monday’s team media day. “I’m ready to let it fly.”
That won’t be allowed at Saturday’s Harold Nichols Open.
Cyclone Coach Kevin Jackson said it was his decision to keep the former FILA freestyle All-American grounded a bit longer from meets.
“I know it’s been tough on him because he wants to compete so bad,” said Jackson, who enters his fourth season at the helm of the program that groomed him for two world championships and a 1992 Olympic gold medal. “And I don’t want to disrespect (197-pounder) Cole Shaffer in any way. (He’s) our starter right now and he’s obviously going to be pushing forward, trying to win that spot, but Kyven’s a big piece of the program. … I think he brings the intensity and energy to our team that we need.”
The future for Gadson — who’s recovering from shoulder surgery 11 months ago — mirrors that of ISU’s.
Clouded, but potentially bright.
The Cyclones, who feature just two senior starters, finished 35th in the NCAA championships last season.
Jackson’s uncertain about whether his two most touted incoming recruits, John Meeks (133) and Gabe Moreno (149), will red-shirt or compete in Cardinal and Gold this season.
“Our philosophy is to red-shirt freshmen,” said Jackson, whose team returns three NCAA qualifiers in Ryak Finch (125), Luke Goettl (141) and Boaz Beard (184), along with a reigning Big 12 champ in Matt Gibson (heavyweight). “If you’re a freshman that’s capable of being an NCAA champion and you believe that and I believe that and you’re our best guy, then we’ll consider wrestling you.”
Meeks, who went 168-0 at Des Moines Roosevelt and is one of 21 Iowa high school wrestler to win four state titles, was sick Monday, so unavailable for interviews.
Moreno, who finished fourth, third, second and first in the state meet for Urbandale, said he’d prefer to red-shirt, but would do whatever’s best for the team.
Jackson hopes to wrestle him at 149, but he’s a light 149 right now.
“(It’s a) hungry room,” said Moreno, who was coached in high school by his father, Mike, a former ISU All-American. “Just from the mindset of all these people, they’re looking for change. And we won’t accept another season like last year.”
That’s a program-wide mentality, from man-to-man, corner-to-corner.
Sophomores Goettl and Finch, in particular, faced arguably the most grueling respective schedules last season at their weights.
Finch, ranked 16th by InterMat, wrestled six eventual All-Americans.
Goettl beat wrestlers ranked No. 1 and No. 2 during the season, but struggled with consistency.
“You can’t live in the past,” said Goettl, who is ranked 17th by InterMat. “You can’t live in the future. You’ve got to live in today and if you do everything right today, you can do all the stuff tomorrow that everybody wants to do.”
For Gadson, living in today — as in Monday — meant live action.
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